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'We wanted a fresh start - but we've been worse'

Published on: 29 January 2023

Liverpool have won just one of their six games in 2023

Liverpool fans were dreaming of witnessing history this time last year, with the Reds in the hunt for a quadruple of trophy wins that is unprecedented in the English game.

It is a very different story now, with Jurgen Klopp's side down to one chance of silverware this season - and facing an uphill battle to make the top four.

They are ninth in the Premier League - 21 points behind leaders Arsenal and 10 off the Champions League places - while their FA Cup defence was ended in dramatic fashion by Brighton's 92nd-minute winner.

It was the second time in as many weeks they had lost at Brighton, who are three places above them in the league.

"This season has been nowhere near good enough," stand-in captain Andy Robertson told ITV Sport after Kaoru Mitoma's brilliant added-time winner.

"At the start of the year, we wanted a fresh start but that hasn't happened. We've been worse. In the league, we haven't been good enough and now we're out of both cups."

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What's gone wrong for Liverpool?

The exhausting schedule in pursuit of the quadruple last season has surely played its part in the struggle. A 63-game season - with every game with so much riding on it - would take its toll on any team.

The impact appears to have been psychological as well as physical, with Reds midfielder Thiago admitting recentlyexternal-link that coming so close to winning all four trophies - they won the League Cup and FA Cup but lost the Premier League on the final day and were beaten in the Champions League final - was hard to take.

Injuries have also played their part with Klopp rarely able to field his strongest XI; the defence that faced Real Madrid in the showpiece Paris final has played together once this term.

Mohamed Salah has not had the threat or effectiveness of previous seasons - and also had a quieter second half to last season - while his former front three colleagues Roberto Firmino has rarely had a run of games and Sadio Mane was sold to Bayern Munich.

The injured Luis Diaz, so dangerous since signing last January from Porto, is a big miss and £85m summer signing Darwin Nunez has yet to totally convince.

The industry of the midfield that almost drove the Reds to the historic quadruple looks laborious and one-paced and the younger midfielders - Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - have never consistently impressed at Anfield.

Still, the squad and the manager surely possess enough quality to have won only one of their six games so far in 2023.

"You can't put your finger on one thing, it's more than that," added Robertson. "You can tell we're not as confident in front of goal and in defence we are a wee bit open. We had two clean sheets coming into today but then go and concede two goals.

"We need to get the confidence back, it's easier said than done, and that's how we will get results."

Liverpool will need that confidence back quickly as they head into a big month.

In February they face rivals Everton, Champions League-chasing Newcastle United and holders Real Madrid in the Champions League.

"It doesn't feel great," Klopp said after the Brighton loss.

"In time we might see the positives but we wanted to get the next round. Congratulations to Brighton."

Prior to Sunday's game, Klopp defended himself amid Liverpool's struggles, insisting he hasn't become a bad manager overnight, but it will take all of his managerial nous to prevent the season after one of the club's greatest ever campaigns from being a huge disappointment.

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