Barca inspiration after Bournemouth blip; keep calm over Karius

Ian Watson

Dave Tindall calls for calm after Liverpool blew it at Bournemouth, with a jaunt to Barcelona and the visit of West Ham the perfect way to bounce back.

There’s a general consensus that this 2016/17 season is going to be an exciting ride for Liverpool.

So, rather than be gobsmacked that we twice threw away a two-goal lead at a mid-table side (Bournemouth are 10th), perhaps the bigger surprise is that we had to wait until December for it to happen. Then again, there has been so much good stuff this season that many of us were in shock at the final whistle.

The doubters have highlighted Bournemouth 4 Liverpool 3 as evidence of a recurring theme and that this happens to us a lot. But is that correct? Would rare, isolated incident be nearer the truth?

What does the gap between examples have to be? All Liverpool fans will tell you with a glazed and regretful look in their eye that the last case of capitulation was the 3-1 Europa Cup final defeat against Seville in May.

That was seven months and 19 games ago.

Jurgen Klopp: Still pained by Liverpool's loss to Sevilla

At that frequency, it might happen again once or maybe twice this season.

Don’t read too much into Dean Court capitulation

Before we get written off as mentally weak or having a soft underbelly and all those type of phrases, Liverpool have already held off fightbacks from Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester, West Brom and Crystal Palace in the Premier League this season.

There was potential for wobble in all those games when the opposition found the net to either pull within a goal or draw level but we held firm or kicked on again to take 15 points out of 15.

So what was different at Bournemouth?

Firstly, they deserve credit. Eddie Howe made brave substitutions (outflanking Jurgen Klopp dare I say) and the ball broke their way on a couple of occasions, a reward for positive intent that often benefits Liverpool so let’s not class it as luck.

Secondly, Joel Matip wasn’t there to keep us cool. He’s missed three Premier League games this season and the stats in those matches are startling. We’ve lost two of those (our only defeats) and conceded a whopping nine goals. There seems an obvious cause and effect when the elegant Cameroonian is absent.

Loris Karius Liverpool

Thirdly, our goalkeeper is still finding his feet. Many have jumped down Loris Karius’ throat after he couldn’t hold Steve Cook’s hopeful but planned injury-time pot-shot and allowed Nathan Ake to prod home the loose ball.

But what were we doing allowing Cook the time and space to shoot. Why did no-one react quicker when the ball rebounded from Karius’ grasp? And why did James Milner turn into Alberto Moreno and give away a penalty when we were cruising at 2-0?

It was a collective calamity at the back, not the sole responsibility of a rookie German goalkeeper.

Time for a measured response

The reaction to such a defeat should never be those extremes of knee-jerk panic or bad-day-at-the-office shrug.

The sensible middle ground is to look at what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

For Klopp, that doesn’t mean panic buying although some activity in the transfer window is expected. Instead, it will be a case of working on the faults in training and, one of his greatest assets, sprinkling more self-belief.

And yet, it may do no harm to have a rethink about rotating the current squad we have.

It needs to be said that Lucas Leiva is present more often than not when things go wrong like this. He’s partly exonerated as he isn’t a natural centre-back but it seems strange that the Brazilian midfielder has jumped the pecking order when the steadier hand of Ragnar Klavan might have been better in this fixture.

Dejan Lovren: Insists Liverpool can play even better

Secondly, Dejan Lovren has been much improved this season but, crucially, that’s when he’s had the calm and imposing influence of Matip alongside. When Lovren has been asked to lead the defence in difficult situations, he’s come up short.

Lovren still has the shirt but if interest in Virgil van Dijk is cooling for now, perhaps Klopp is seeing good things from Joe Gomez, who is working his way back to full sharpness.

That’s for further down the line so let’s deal with the here and now and say thank-you for Matip’s recovery and thank-you to the fixture list for throwing up West Ham (at Anfield) as our next opponents.

Happy to host Hammers

Slaven Bilic looks a broken man at the moment, admitting that his team lack intensity not just in matches but in training too. That’s a bizarre admission as it’s basically saying he can’t motivate them any longer.

Slaven Bilic: Hails West Ham atmosphere

After a 5-1 home loss to Arsenal, coming up against a Liverpool team stung by Sunday’s loss spells big trouble.

Klopp will want a big response and I fully expect him to get one in front of an Anfield crowd keen to show they’re up for it after a ticking off from the charismatic German against Sunderland for displaying wavering belief.

Nou Camp motivation

One other interesting, motivational trick this week was Klopp taking the first-team squad off to Barcelona for warm weather training.

Part of that trip involved a visit to the Nou Camp to watch Barca thump Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-0.

liverpool-at-the-nou-camp-barcelona

“This is where we should be boys,” you can imagine Klopp telling the squad whilst waving his arms around as the Champions League music piped out. Hopefully a bit of Spanish sun and watching Messi strut his stuff can generate another layer of positivity.

Third in the table having scored more goals than anyone is still a good place to be.

Arsenal haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine matches, Man City are all over the place at the back and surely teams will start working out how to find holes in Chelsea’s three-man defence sooner rather than later.

No need to panic after one messy defeat Reds fans. Let’s all channel our inner Joel Matip and keep calm.

Dave Tindall