Jurgen Klopp “drafting” return to ‘awful’ scene as Liverpool duo face reliving agony

Jurgen Klopp “drafting” return to ‘awful’ scene as Liverpool duo face reliving agony

Liverpool has experienced some remarkable lows this season, but one stands out more than any other.

On Saturday, when the Premier League resumes, Jurgen Klopp and his team will have an opportunity to demonstrate their subsequent improvement when they return to the scene of the crime.

If the 3-0 loss at Brighton three weeks earlier had left Klopp battling to remember a worse game during his managerial tenure, he didn’t have to wait long before having to react to even more desperate defeat.

The loss by the same scoreline at struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers in early February highlighted everything that was wrong with Liverpool last season, from a leaky defense, a lack of aggression, a poor start – Wolves were 2-0 up after 20 minutes – to a lackluster midfield and a misfiring attack.

“The beginning is terrible, then it’s normal, and then it’s fantastic,” said Klopp after the game. “I’d love to see the final score if we played that way when it was 0-0. But currently it’s always “if, if, if.” I can no longer bear to hear it, but such is the circumstance.”

Liverpool had conceded more goals in the Premier League than in the entirety of the previous season with 18 games remaining, illustrating why they were closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League qualification places.

And having lost 3-1 at Brentford the previous month, it was the first time in nearly 11 years that Liverpool had lost three consecutive away league games.

It was, however, the low point of the Reds’ decline from title contenders to mid-table stragglers.

Certainly, there were significant roadblocks in the form of a wretched 1-0 loss at Bournemouth and a dreadful 4-1 loss at champions-elect Manchester City. Those two, however, are Liverpool’s only Premier League defeats in 22 games since. Six draws and fourteen victories have resulted in a points total of 48, surpassed only by City.

Obviously, a great deal has changed since the early-year voyage to Molineux. It was the last time Naby Keita played more than 45 minutes for Liverpool before leaving on a free transfer in the summer. Of the other two starting midfielders, Thiago Alcantara has since made just four substitute appearances and suffered another injury setback last month, while Stefan Bajcetic has only just returned to the bench after more than four months out.

Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo, and Ryan Gravenberch are expected to compete with in-form Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones for a starting spot in Liverpool’s engine room.

The Wolves defeat was also the last time Cody Gakpo started on the left flank, the Dutchman transitioned into a false nine position in the following game where, with one or two notable exceptions, he has been a regular. In contrast, Darwin Nunez’s recent victory over Aston Villa was only his second start as a center forward after leading the attack at Molineux.

But perhaps the most intrigue will encircle a pair that is unlikely to change. With Virgil van Dijk serving an additional one-match suspension for his reaction to being sent off against Newcastle United, and with Ibrahima Konate’s fitness uncertain after missing the last two games, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are available to partner at center-back. Matip opened the scoring with an own goal and Gomez was partially responsible for all three Wolves goals in February, but they were impressive when partnered together against Villa last time out.

Due to the anticipated absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gomez is on standby to play right back regardless of Konate’s availability.

Saturday is the ideal opportunity for every player who was involved in that humiliation seven months ago to demonstrate how far Liverpool has come since then, both individually and collectively.

Jurgen Klopp “drafting” return to ‘awful’ scene as Liverpool duo face reliving agony

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