The entire football world is wondering – what is wrong with Liverpool.
Their form is swinging from one extreme to another and they are unrecognisable from the team that came to be feared for being ‘mentality monsters’.
Their game against Bournemouth saw them plummet from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The team went from the high of a historic demolition of Manchester United to being embarrassingly beaten by lowly Bournemouth.
Despite a record-breaking triumph just six days earlier, Liverpool were unable to sustain their momentum and produced a lifeless and error-strewn display on the south coast.
Manager Jurgen Klopp admitted that the game was “pretty much the opposite of what we wanted to show” and acknowledged that it was a “massive knock” for the team. However, this inconsistency is not out of character for Liverpool’s turbulent season of transition.
On their day, Liverpool is capable of beating anyone, having defeated Manchester City, Tottenham, and Serie A leaders Napoli.
However, they have also suffered losses to Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Brentford, Brighton (twice), Wolves, and Bournemouth.
The team is two-faced and sometimes shows both of its sides in quick succession, such as when they squandered a dazzling 2-0 lead to suffer a damaging 5-2 defeat against Real Madrid.
This season marks the first time since 2010-11 that Liverpool has failed to win away against all three of the promoted clubs.
The 2-2 draw at Fulham on the opening weekend was followed by October’s dismal defeat at Nottingham Forest.
Both of these games shared a 12.30pm kick-off time, a slot that players do not relish. However, there are no excuses for Liverpool’s lackluster performance against Bournemouth.
Klopp had given his players two days off after the United match, and they had three days of preparation before flying south and staying at the Bournemouth Hilton.
Klopp had repeatedly warned his team not to underestimate their relegation-threatened opponents, and the team had won the previous seven meetings between the clubs by a combined score of 28-1.
However, after a promising opening 20 minutes, Liverpool’s fragility became apparent, and they wilted after Bournemouth took the lead.
Defensively, Liverpool had shown a significant improvement in a run of five successive Premier League clean sheets.
However, they were collectively vulnerable against Bournemouth, with Virgil van Dijk and both full-backs regressing.
Diogo Jota made an impact off the bench and Cody Gakpo kept driving Liverpool forward, but it was all so disjointed and never convincing.
They got what they deserved.
Klopp now faces a daunting trip to face European champions Real Madrid, with the added pressure of overturning a 5-2 deficit.
Despite the odds being against them, Liverpool has the ability to both thrill and dishearten in equal measure.
The team is difficult to assess, given that so many personnel are regularly lurching from one extreme to another. While they cannot be relied upon, they cannot be completely written off either.
Liverpool’s inconsistency this season highlights the challenges that come with transition and adapting to new circumstances.
While they have enjoyed historic victories, they have also suffered embarrassing losses, and it remains to be seen how they will fare in the remainder of the season.
Klopp and his team will need to regroup and address their fragility if they hope to retain their Champions League status and compete at the highest level.