After a positive 1-1 draw with runaway leaders Chelsea, many thought Liverpool had turned a corner, putting their dismal January form behind them to kick on and fight for a top four spot. However, the predictability with which Liverpool slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Hull City marked a new low for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who are in serious risk of their season fizzling out into nothing.
Much of the pre-match talk was about the return of Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino as Liverpool’s front four. The quartet lined up for the first time since the turn of the year and many expected to see a return to the ruthlessly entertaining attacking football that was displayed at the start of the season.
However, what few expected was to see Emre Can get the nod ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum in the middle alongside Jordan Henderson. While both produced solid performances against Chelsea in mid-week, Can’s inclusion raised some eyebrows due to his erratic form this season and it was a decision that certainly back-fired on Jurgen Klopp.
A Regression of Infinite Proportions
Emre Can has been a shadow of his former self this season, with a poor performance against Hull the latest in a string of sub-par appearances. While he wasn’t the only player to have a bad day at the office, the manner of his performance was worryingly poor.
Often taking four or five touches where only one or two is needed, his ponderous use of the ball has proved a real stumbling block to the fluid football we were so accustomed to seeing from Klopp’s side.
Can’s physical frame, while an asset defensively, sees him resemble a bull in a china shop. Lacking guile and intelligence on the ball, the 23-year-old’s performances have become increasingly erratic as the season has worn on, resulting in a lack of cohesion within the side.
Despite an average passing accuracy of 82% in the Premier League this season, Can has become more of a hindrance rather than an asset to Liverpool’s play of late. His rather clumsy, bullish style of play doesn’t suit the slick football of Klopp’s team and with an ongoing calf issue, the decision to start him against Hull looks all the more strange.
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