Ian Wright thinks Liverpool chasing Manchester City for the Premier League title in the last few seasons has ‘taken its toll’ on Jurgen Klopp’s side, explaining why they are struggling so much this campaign.
Liverpool came within one point of their first Premier League trophy in 2018-19. They only lost once in the league all season as they finished on 97 points, but it was Pep Guardiola’s men who were left celebrating after picking up 98.
The following year, Klopp guided Liverpool to the crown as City fell well behind. This was Liverpool’s first ever Prem triumph and their first league title in 30 years.
But it has been all City since then. They resumed their status as English champions in 2020-21, finishing ahead of Manchester United as Liverpool came third after a plethora of defensive injuries.
Liverpool got back in contention last season thanks to a brilliant run in the second half of the campaign. However, history repeated itself as they finished just one point off City, who lifted their fourth Prem title in five seasons.
Liverpool are already out of this year’s title race, having won just eight of their 18 league outings so far. Consecutive defeats to Brentford and then Brighton have seen the Reds fall to ninth spot. They are behind both of those teams, as well as Marco Silva’s Fulham.
It will now take a mammoth effort for Liverpool to get into the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. They must make up 10 points on Manchester United, who are flying under Erik ten Hag. There will also be competition from Newcastle and Tottenham.
When analysing Liverpool’s 3-0 loss to Brighton on Match of the Day, Wright explained how they have gone from being an ‘unbelievable’ side to one that is ‘very easy’ to play against.
Liverpool well below previously ‘unbelievable’ standards
“We’re talking about a Liverpool side that was unbelievable in terms of the pressing up front and the midfield backing up, then they’re winning the ball high,” Wright declared.
“When we look at how far they are off people, you feel like they’re not getting close enough. I feel like it’s very tough for them.
“Those seasons chasing City down, I think that has taken its toll. Especially still trying to play the high line when you ain’t getting midfielders close enough to other midfielders to stop them from playing that ball over the top or playing that ball through the lines. It just seems like it’s very easy to get through at the minute.”
Wright analysed how the Liverpool midfielders are not giving their defenders as much protection as in previous years. They are failing to press their opponents quickly enough. And this is allowing passes to send attackers in behind the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip.
Liverpool’s usual midfield trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago look way off the level they have previously produced. It is clear that a couple of new players need to arrive at Anfield to revitalise the position.
Of course, there has been plenty of speculation about who Liverpool may capture. They are interested in landing Jude Bellingham, although a Premier League star could be a more viable option.