The first in an occasional series detailing Arsenal's rivals so read on for:
Is the Kop under the Klopp curse?
Suppose you look at Liverpool's numbers across competitions. In that case, you will notice that they have qualified for the UCL knockouts and are just 4 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League table. What those numbers won't tell you is the lacklustre fashion in which they have gone about getting those points.
Virgil van Dijk has never looked himself, Trent Alexander Arnold has been comical in defence, and the club has no shortage of injuries across positions. Despite being only one of 3 Premier league forwards to rack up more than ten goals, Mo Salah has looked barely good either (not to forget that Salah had zero goal contributions in the Reds' 9-0 thumping of AFC Bournemouth).
In summary, even on days where they have taken the 3 points home, those with Liverpool tickets have yet to have an entertaining performance to enjoy-bar the Bournemouth game. The club's performances have been starkly contrasting to what they achieved the previous season with the same team; 2 wins away from a coveted quadruple.
Jurgen Klopp relegated FSV Mainz in his 7th year at FSV Mainz. Jurgen Klopp didn't secure UCL qualification in his 7th year at Dortmund. And guess what? Jurgen Klopp is in his 7th year at Liverpool.
Whether the German's 7th-year curse is to strike Liverpool is arguable, but one cannot simply ignore the majesty of his work at the red half of Merseyside.
He took a bits-and-pieces team that was not even a Europa contender and signed players who barely had a reputation-most as them dropouts off other top clubs- before they signed for Liverpool within the club's financial constraints and built a monster. 1 Premier League title, 1 UCL title, and 3 UCL final appearances in 7 years is no small feat. The progress has been immaculate.
However, Klopp has been criticized for his decisions about the players. The contract extension of an ageing James Milner came under a lot of criticism, questioning if the midfielder's extension was based on "loyalty points", a claim only being strengthened with the kind of performances the ex-Man City player has been putting in.
Jurgen Klopp has barely had any personnel change since his Premier League winning season. On the contrary, rivals Man City has continuously reinforced their reserves with proven talent and continued to reign supreme in England. Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are the ageing or injury-laden players the manager is accused of not moving on from.
With a largely unsatisfactory season unfolding for Liverpool, the direction where the club heads in terms of staff and player recruitment remain undisclosed.
Formation Change. The tweak Liverpool needed?
Liverpool's injury woes have repeatedly haunted them this season, especially in the midfield niche. The lack of a clinical midfielder on the left side has added much to the woes of the reds. Hence, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp overloaded the midfield with a 4-4-2 formation putting his preferred 4-3-3 out of favour.
With the change never really manifesting anything particularly or viewing pleasure for those with Liverpool tickets, opponents quickly played through the Liverpool midfield. However, the German's astute technical prowess was proven right as their left flank delivered the match-winning assist vs Ajax.
It was Jordan Henderson's assist that made the difference. Henderson, however, has been heavily criticized across Liverpool fan circles for his repetitive injuries that keep denting the Reds' armoury,
Despite that, Manchester United Legend Paul Scholes believes that Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson should start whenever the midfielder is in full fitness.
Scholes commented in the aftermath of the England international's pivotal assist with the outside of his left foot, which Mo Salah netted home. It was undoubtedly the most fitting way for Henderson to make his 250th appearance as the leader of the reds.
Salah reigns supreme
Only a few weeks ago, Jurgen Klopp discussed trying to create a configuration that would put both Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah in the centre of the field while also giving Salah a higher chance to score goals, a combination, those with Liverpool tickets will be licking their lips to witness.
The Liverpool manager added, "We are still developing this kind of system, and we have to figure out how it is ideal for the individual game."
The Reds' opportunity to attempt something new was vs Ajax. And as has been the case so frequently over the previous six seasons, Salah ensured to live up to Klopp's faith in the new strategy.
Because of the Egyptian's high standards, it's simple to ignore the brilliance of his audacious goal, which decisively swung the match in Liverpool's favour.
Salah rumoured to be having a lacklustre season, has now scored ten goals, joining Harry Kane and Erling Haaland as the only Premier League players to reach double digits in all competitions. His exquisite pass for Harvey Elliott to score in a second straight Champions League game was also his fifth assist, and that's 15 goal contributions across 17 games.
With his goal, Salah now trails Steven Gerrard's Liverpool record of 41 goals in European tournaments by just one. The Egyptian King keeps getting beckoned by history.
According to reports, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool are interested in the Anderlecht center-back Zeno Debast. The Belgian international is a highly talented player, and Liverpool is keeping an eye on his development in anticipation of possibly looking into signing him at some stage in the future. If signed, the wunderkind is sure to impress those with Liverpool tickets.
When spotting the most outstanding young talent in the league, the Reds have a solid track record, and Zeno appears to be a player to keep an eye on in the years to come. Debast has earned two senior international caps for Belgium this year, and they will likely be the first of many.
The Belgian centre-back is probably not needed in the Reds' starting lineup right now, but it won't be long until they consider finding a long-term successor for Virgil van Dijk.
Virgil van Dijk had a distinguished career at Liverpool, but at age 31 and with the team's dismal start to the season, he is beginning to appear to be past his prime, a fate you would have never expected to arrive this soon if you were one with Liverpool tickets.
The Belgian defender presently has a deal with Anderlecht through 2025 after signing a new one earlier in the summer. Still, it is anticipated that after making his debut for Belgium at the international level, he will be offered new terms.
Despite having started fewer than 20 games in his career, he received a call-up to the Belgium senior squad last month and made his Nations League debuts with both Wales and the Netherlands.
In addition to rumoured interest in AC Milan star Sandro Tonali, Liverpool is now being linked with a deal for Newcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimaraes.
UCL Round of 16 draw
On Monday, November 7, the Champions League's round of 16 draws will take place at Nyon. Liverpool defeated AFC Ajax 3-0 at Johan Cruijff Arena to advance with one match remaining in the first round of the knockout phase.
The last-16 draw, which will take place at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon at 11 am GMT, cannot pair Jürgen Klopp's team with Napoli or other Premier League clubs as per UEFA regulations.
The two-legged ties are planned for February and March of 2023.
Each of the eight group winners is paired with a runner-up and must play the second leg at home in the seeded last-16 draw.
With Liverpool now in the UCL Knockouts, Liverpool tickets are selling out rapidly. Hence, official retail sites might not be your go-to option. Official reseller sites will help you source Liverpool tickets.