After the Sunderland game on Monday, Jurgen Klopp looked a frustrated figure. I completely support and agree with the points he made in his post match interview. Liverpool played 2 Premier League matches in less than 48 hours. This allowed very little preparation time for the match and does not provide an adequate rest in between the fixtures. I was not overly surprised that the match ended in a draw. I do not think it is fair that the rest times are different for different teams. For example Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton have had shorter breaks than Chelsea. Commercial reasons and television are of course the main reason for this. Football has to take the priority to drive improvement.
England is the only top league in Europe to not have a winter break, and yet the FA wonder why we are playing catch up to the rest of Europe in terms of football progression. Of course this is not the only reason, however, the culture here in England does not support top level elite football. Sometimes I wonder whether the country really wants to learn modern football or whether showcase drama is the priority. The differences between English football and Europe have been highlighted by top coaches recently, including Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
In terms of the Sunderland game, I cannot fault the effort of the players. There can be no direct comparisons and Klopp stated he had no idea what to expect of the players. The statistics suggested Liverpool should have won the game, to have 15 shots on target and score onky two is questionable. Daniel Sturridge looked clinical, with six shots, all on target, and a well taken goal. Adam Lallana covered the most distance in the Premier League twice over the New year period (a combined 26.1km), a testament to his impressive work ethic. Liverpool led twice and strung together 605 successful passes. However, it proved to be a frustrating result with Vito Mannone stopping the reds on many occasions.
Liverpool can feel hard done by for events during the game also. Yes, it was a handball by Sadio Mane for the second penalty, however, this situation would not have happened if it wasn’t for an unjustified free kick bejng awarded moments before. I did not see a loss of momentum, the performance looked a little jaded, similar to Manchester City and Arsenal, who also had little time to rest in between fixtures. This may seem like a missed opportunity now, but as time goes on, it could turn out to be a good point during a physically demanding period of the season.
Written by Ben Wade