Former Liverpool player and manager Graeme Souness believes that Liverpool’s lack of consistency this season has added a nervy edge to the build-up to their clash against table-toppers (ugh) Manchester United this Sunday.
“I think for the first time Liverpool will go into the game nervous,” Souness told Sky Sports.
“For the last two years it has been non-stop plaudits for them, and correctly so because the football has been magnificent. But that has not been there this season, consistently. That’s why they’ve dropped points you wouldn’t have imagined them to”, he added.
“When they are at their best they bully teams, especially high up the pitch. But I don’t see that consistently this year.
“United are going there as a group of players feeling like they can get a result. If they do that, it adds to their momentum.
“If you’d have asked me at the start of the season if United would be facing Liverpool at this point of the season three points ahead, I would have said that isn’t going to happen. But we’re in the most unusual of unusual seasons that I can remember, but fair play to United, they’ve played with a dogged determination and crawled themselves right into the fight.”
He also pinpointed Virgil Van Dijk’s absence as the cause for Liverpool’s current woes - a point that is debatable considering the positive results that the Reds have churned out with the likes of Fabinho deputizing at centre-back frequently.
Souness said, “Liverpool are searching for consistency, and that was one word you’d have attached to them for the past three years. Their consistency levels have been fantastic, and that’s why they’ve won some big trophies. But this year they are scratching around, and I think you can directly trace it back to losing Virgil van Dijk early on. They’ve lost Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, dropped Fabinho back in there, and the general disruption of what was a very set group of players.
“If you go back to the start of the season and you sat down with Jurgen Klopp and asked: ‘Who is the one player you don’t want to be injured for a lengthy time this season?’
“Some people might say Mane. Others might say Salah. But I think they’ve got goals in the team. But you haven’t got anyone to replace Virgil van Dijk. He is the glue that keeps everyone together at the back.
“So going back in recent history, I don’t think there has been a better time for United to be going to Anfield. This is as good as it will get for them. They will go there believing they can get a result.”