How concerned should Liverpool fans be after Red Star defeat?

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REDS SLIP UP IN SERBIA

Jurgen Klopp was left to scratch his head once again on Tuesday night, as his team produced another lacklustre display away from home in the Champions League.

Losing 2-0 away to Red Star Belgrade, it was the second time that they had lost on the road in Europe this season and the performance reeked of the one produced on their ventures at Napoli. The Reds lost 1-0 on that occasion thanks to a Lorenzo Insigne effort in the last minute of the game.

Managing just four shots on target across the two matches - none of which came in Naples - there has been a real lack of imagination from the team away from home so far. Sadio Mane was the brightest of their attackers on Tuesday night, as Mohamed Salah again struggled to really make an impact.

Klopp said after the game that the team had lost its ‘mojo’ in recent weeks and they will need to discover it ahead of their remaining two fixtures in the competitions. Liverpool travel to Paris Saint-Germain on matchday five, before rounding off the group stages with a home tie against Napoli.

Red Star Belgrade

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

A win last night would’ve seen them move three points clear at the top of Group C, with a point from their next match at PSG then being enough to guarantee them a place in the knockout stages. That, of course, would’ve been easier said than done, but it does beg the question as to why Jurgen Klopp made the number of changes that he did, particularly with Fulham being the visitors to Anfield on Sunday.

Judging by their overall performance last night, even having Joe Gomez and Roberto Firmino in the starting XI may not have saved them, with their being poor performances across the park which led to both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Daniel Sturridge being hooked off at half-time. They certainly aren’t the first and won’t be the last team to be upset in such a way in the Champions League - Real Madrid have already lost to CSKA Moscow in this year’s competition alone - but their form must improve.

After starting with wins in each of their first seven matches in all competitions, they have since won just three of their next nine matches which has one or two Reds fans concerned at their current lack of form. Manchester City show no sign of slowing and another two or three games with dropped points could see them fall well off the pace in the Premier League - so alarm bells will certainly be ringing for Jurgen Klopp.

Van Dijk Liverpool

MIDFIELD PROBLEMS

One of the widely-diagnosed reasons for their current problems has been a lack of creativity in midfield. Klopp has players with plenty of industry in the likes of Milner, Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, though nobody has shown as of yet that they can be a creativite source from midfield on a regular basis.

Naby Keita could well prove to be that player, but injuries have disrupted his progress so far, while Adam Lallana still looks some way short of being back to full fitness. Xherdan Shaqiri doesn’t yet seem to have the trust of his manager to play centrally in the big games, as was highlighted by his inclusion on the bench against Arsenal.

Having Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missing through injury is of course a huge blow, with the England international coming into his own during the second half of last season before being cruelly robbed of a place in the Champions League final and England’s World Cup squad. He is unlikely to play again this season, which makes the frustration of Nabil Fekir’s broken down move to Merseyside even more frustrating.

The Frenchman had agreed terms on a move to Anfield but saw the move fall through after failing a medical. Still, that hasn’t stopped him from flourishing with Lyon this season, having scored three goals and provided four assists in his last seven appearances in all competitions.

Liverpool are lacking such production from the middle third of the field and could certainly do with a player like Fekir, having still not really addressed the Philippe Coutinho-sized hole that has existed in their squad since January.

Teams haven’t yet figured Liverpool out, but there looks to be the apparent need for more creativity from their players in midfield, who have not had as much joy threading straight passes into the channels for their forwards to chase as they did last season. Liverpool need something special in the middle, just like Manchester City get from David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.

Fekir Lyon

HOW CONCERNED SHOULD FANS BE?

There is often a tendency to overreact after results like Tuesday and in situations such as these. However, there is no need for panic at Anfield. Liverpool are still second in their Champions League group and still have their fate in their own hands, with a potentially decisive game at Anfield where they will always back themselves against anybody.

In the Premier League, they trail City by just two points and are still unbeaten in 11 matches thus far, dropping points on only three occasions. Those have come against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, while they have also beat Tottenham as well as teams at the bottom of the table that have in the past prevented them from competing for titles.

Klopp is going through a sticky spell, but not anything overly serious. It’s another challenge for him, but the German hasn’t shirked away from any hurdles during his time at Anfield and should have full belief behind him to find a solution.

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