It has been two weeks since an emphatic 4-0 victory over Arsenal before the international break and this time it was Liverpool on the receiving end of a thrashing.
Returning positively to Premier League action straight after an international break has often proven problematic for Liverpool in recent seasons. Such breaks cause an untimely disruption to the rhythm of the season and more often than not, a few players return with injuries to add to the problems.
This time, Jürgen Klopp was lucky to have a fully fit squad returning to Merseyside ahead of three Premier League games, two Champions League games and the third round of the League Cup in what is a hectic month for the Reds. Six games in 21 days.
With only three to four days to prepare for a trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City, the curse of the international break hit and the system fell to pieces. Liverpool were in fine form since the end of last season. A win against Middlesbrough on the final day of the season secured a top-four place and set the Reds up for a successful summer.
That momentum continued into the season and, despite a poor result away to Watford, Liverpool picked up the pace in both the Premier League and the Champions League before the inconvenience of the international break.
It’s no excuse, however. After a positive start in which Liverpool were causing City problems, the Reds handed them a goal on a plate. Then the game hinged on the sending off – Liverpool were still in the game until that point. For me, Sadio Mane made an honest attempt for the ball and was not hell-bent on injuring an opponent. Jon Moss showed the red, Sadio was off and Liverpool rolled over with just 10 men.
Liverpool were all over the show defensively and everyone was crying out, once again, for a new centre-back. I absolutely hate being so negative and always try and find the positives from each game, but unfortunately there were very few to take from Saturday’s game. Simon Mignolet made a few good saves, but ultimately Liverpool were battered with five goals, which could have been seven had two not been flagged offside.
An embarrassing show for Liverpool, who will need to pick up the slack and look to Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez on Wednesday night. Philippe Coutinho may also be considered as the Reds cannot afford another big loss to mess with their morale.
It’s not the end of the world, as many made out following that loss, but a lot of work needs to be done in training if Liverpool are to avoid another disaster like this. Squad rotation is inevitable with the amount of games they have, but Klopp will need to consider bidding for a centre-back in January if he wants his side to seriously challenge for silverware this season.