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Liverpool’s inability to beat Swansea at home verifies they aren’t ready for the title.

Monday 23rd January 2017
The Liverpool fans have been very vocal in their confidence this season, believing this season held fruit for them. Although a shock loss to relegation-threatened Swansea City has left the club's ambitions for the season in real flux.
Jürgen Klopp has certainly re-energized Anfield in short time he's been with the club. He's also successfully sifted through the personnel and made a real fist of those he's got; as well as acquiring stars like Mané, Wijnaldum and Matip who have injected a lot of flexibility into the full squad.

It's just not enough, though. Despite the positive strides, the club still finds it difficult to maintain a level of consistency. January continues to be an increasingly difficult month for the club. Last season they were in an identical situation. Still in both cups; at the expense of playing replays and it leading to a capitulation of league form to start the calendar year.

Last year it was an unnecessary extra game against Exeter City, this year Plymouth Argyle. The added strife this year was that failing to win the first game meant that they were subject to a 600-mile round trip to the south coast of Devon. Both replays were arguably down to Liverpool's disrespect to the opposition.
They won this game on the south coast but could have done without the trip.

In the game against Plymouth, Klopp, famously named Liverpool's youngest ever starting line-up. Whether it was an intentional dig at the opposition or not, it was felt. The youngsters failed to get the job done; and since then the side has struggled, only winning the replay at Home Park. All their other games haven't seen Liverpool win since the turn of the year. Most importantly, conceding late on at Old Trafford to drop two points, and this latest loss to Swansea City will hurt.

Given that the South Wales team started the weekend at the bottom of the table with very limited success so far this season – Liverpool was largely expected to win in front of their home crowd. As previously documented this wasn't the end result; as Paul Clement's side upset the Mersey Reds.

Klopp went on record after the game and stated that senseless defending was a core reason for the loss. Reports on the game document the primary culprits were Lovren and Klavan, both of which have stemmed debate throughout the season. It's fair comment to say that the team are missing out on key signing Joël Matip at the back. The former Schalke man was embroiled in a scandal with the Cameroonian national side where he refused a call-up. FIFA became involved and placed a ban on the defender playing for Liverpool. The ban was only relinquished a few hours before the match, and henceforth wasn't part of the starting line-up. He did, however, make a brief cameo in the dying seconds of added time.

Although speaking of absentees, the club is without arguably their best player this campaign. Signing from Southampton, Sadio Mané has hit the ground running for the Reds. Although unlike Matip, he's gone to Gabon to represent his country in the African Cup of Nations. He's Liverpool's top scorer and has continued his form for Senegal, as he's currently tied as the competition's top scorer. Considering the club's current fixture congestion across three competitions, there's not a worse time to be without their talisman.
There's a real good reason to miss him, he's always in the right place at the right time.

In the space of just six days, Liverpool will play three games. Their home leg of the league cup against Southampton, the visit of Championship side Wolves in the FA cup and then at the end of it all; a harrowing prospect of playing Chelsea. Whilst they defeated the South-West London club earlier in the campaign, this isn't the same Liverpool. They couldn't enter this title-hope dependent fixture any worse. Trials and tribulations of two cup games and fresh off a loss to bottom of the league; will not lend any fortune to Liverpool when they play Chelsea. Should they have seen Swansea off; the cup games would not look so ominous. Klopp now faces a real dilemma. Go for broke with the cups and try to restore (some kind of) glory to the club, or rest his keys players in said games and try to beat Chelsea. The problem with the latter is, he's done that several times before and he's no come out the other end smiling.

Ultimately all signs lead to Liverpool's and their unprepared nature for a real title run. Something radical would have to change at Anfield, and soon – for them to restore any realistic title ambitions.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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