28 January 2017

Liverpool 1-2 Wolverhampton

Stearman 1'
Weimann 41'
Origi 86'

Should we be reactionary when a Liverpool side with a ton of changes and a ton of kids and a ton of players who haven't really played together lose?

Yes, yes we should.

Because that was hilariously bad. And it's not for the first time this month, no matter the Liverpool XI. In isolation, it's almost excusable. In the context of the winter of our discontent, it's absolutely infuriating.

Liverpool are almost certainly completely out of the title race, out of the League Cup, and now out of the FA Cup after three consecutive home losses in seven days. To Swansea, Southampton, and Wolverhampton. After not losing at home for more than a year.

The last time Liverpool lost three in a row at home was September/October 2012. That was to Arsenal, Manchester United, and Udinese. This lot's a bit different than that lot.

Incidentally, Liverpool's next three home games are Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal.

We can do this entire review with comparisons to previous failings.

Liverpool conceded early, as against Burnley. Liverpool conceded unnecessarily, after being pressed and giving the ball away (Lucas) and committing a dumb foul (Moreno). Liverpool conceded from a set play, with Stearman arguably, marginally, but probably never getting that call offside. Liverpool conceded from the first shot on-target.

An early concession allowed the opposition to sit deep even more comfortably, preventing a Liverpool side which dominated possession from coming anywhere near breaking through. As we've seen in almost every single match this month.

Liverpool conceded a second on the counter-attack, giving the ball away in the final third then hilariously exposed. As in the aforementioned Burnley match. As happened for Swansea's third a week ago. As happened for Southampton's added aggregate gloss three days ago.

Liverpool failed to put a single shot on-target in the first half for the second time during this three-match losing streak – as against Swansea – restricted to four shots despite almost 80% possession, with three of the four from outside the box.

And despite changes – Coutinho for Randall at halftime, switching to three at the back; then Sturridge for Firmino; then Can for Ejaria – it was more of the same in the second half. Finally, a first shot on-target on the hour mark, an easy 30-yard slow roller from Coutinho. A second from Sturridge 15 minutes later, a similar position with a similar outcome. 41 minutes of unsuccessfully ambling face-first into a brick wall then starting over. 13 of 20 Liverpool shots coming from outside the box, 11 of 14 before Origi finally scored. As we've seen against etc. etc. etc.

Yes, there was a glimmer of unwarranted and unwanted hope in the 86th minute, Origi from Sturridge's header across goal following a corner. Another set play goal. Liverpool are still limited to two open play goals in eight 2017 matches, both from Firmino against Swansea. And Origi nearly had a second a minute later, after a scramble following another corner, denied by Burgoyne's kick save.

And that was that. No more chances, with Wolves killing the clock efficiently. Another loss, this probably the most deserved. None except I guess Ben Woodburn coming out of this fiasco with any credit, although at least Coutinho livened up Liverpool's attack a little bit. Multiple players coming out of this fiasco with a ton of criticism, especially Randall, Moreno, and Lucas – admittedly three who don't often feature, but the full-backs exposed and harassed on multiple occasions and Lucas doing Stereotypically Bad Lucas.

Less than a month ago, halfway through the league campaign, Liverpool had scored the most goals in a single half-season in their history. It was Liverpool's fourth-best points total after 19 games, Liverpool's joint-fifth best goal difference.

And now we're here. With one win in eight matches in 2017, a narrow 1-0 win thanks to a set play against League Two Plymouth. Three draws – Sunderland, Plymouth, and Manchester United – and now, three consecutive losses. To Swansea, Southampton, and Wolves. Swansea. Southampton. And Wolves.

It will probably get better, as the fixture list eases, as players return to fitness and form and the African Cup of Nations ends. When Liverpool get one, they'll probably get two and then three. But right now, it's getting worse. Every game. So, sure, it was a reserve line-up, but the rot continues and the rot worsens. The reserve line-up and the rot feature the failings we've seen time and time again this month.

And there are no signs of abating or improving.

And Liverpool host the runaway league leaders in a little more than 72 hours.

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