Points Tally: 4 / 9 points (Europa League Last 16, Capital One Cup Runners-Up, Out of FA Cup 4th Round)
Liverpool’s dismal league form continued into February, beginning with an away defeat to league leaders Leicester City, and then letting slip a two-goal lead to draw at home to strugglers Sunderland. The Reds got their only league win of the month in the 6-0 mauling at bottom of the table Aston Villa.
The Reds’ cup form also took a beating in February, as a young side was knocked out of the FA Cup after conceding in the last minute of injury time at West Ham United. Jurgen Klopp then saw his side limp into the next round of the Europa League, only overcoming FC Augsburg with an early James Milner penalty in the second leg at Anfield. Worst was to come at the end of the month, as Klopp’s Reds lost on penalties to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final.
Player of the Month: Kolo Toure (average rating: 7.25)
Despite another disappointing month, one standout player was the veteran defender. With injuries to Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren, Toure stepped up and steadied the ship when needed. He was decent in the league against Sunderland, after coming on for the fallen Lovren.
will klopp decide to keep his star man from february?
Toure then produced two consecutive solid displays away at Villa and Germany, helping his side keep clean-sheets in both games. After yet another early defensive injury, this time for Mamadou Sakho, Toure came on and did very well against Sergio Aguero and co. in the Wembley final. Though he couldn’t stop his brother from scoring the penalty and lifting the trophy, Kolo gave another composed performance that topped off a wonderful month for the Ivorian, with most undecided on whether to keep the Kop favourite past the summer.
Flop of the Month: Jordan Henderson (5.6)
The return of the skipper in January was greeted with optimism, however Henderson’s form since then has deteriorated. Failing to impose himself in the disappointing results against Leicester and Sunderland, Henderson gave his only decent performance at a desperately poor Villa side.
Against a seemingly limited side like Augsburg, Klopp and Reds fans would have thought Henderson could shine and take the game by the scruff of the neck. Instead, his midfield partner, Emre Can, seemed to take more control in midfield compared to the supposed successor to Steven Gerrard. Henderson’s lack of creativity in the shootout defeat to City was made worse by the fact that he did not lead by example – like Gerrard would’ve done – and take a penalty in the shootout.
Even as skipper, Henderson’s place must be under threat, with the likes of Joe Allen and Adam Lallana waiting on the wings.
There wasn’t much highs in a month of lows. Perhaps the 6-0 victory at Villa was the best point of February. Liverpool were unusually clinical at Villa Park, scoring with almost every shot on target. Sturridge returned to goalscoring form, while Philippe Coutinho was at his creative best.
few smiles in a poor month for the reds
Divock Origi returned from the bench and scored almost immediately, and even Toure got in on the act, scoring his first goal of his Liverpool career. So much for highlights.
Areas of Improvement:
Much has been made of Liverpool’s porous defence as well as the unpredictable goalkeeping of Simon Mignolet. However, the attention should now shift to Liverpool’s midfield. No doubt, the likes of James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can are hardworking, industrious and energetic. But they lack the creativity and drive needed to force the issue from midfield.
is liverpool’s midfield too functional?
All three are too similar to one another, and one should be enough to the job of the three deployed by Klopp at the moment. Henderson has struggled to fill the creative void left by Gerrard, while Milner’s service, from wide areas in particular, are modest at best. Klopp may want to consider dropping one of the three, probably Milner but perhaps Henderson on current form, and bring Coutinho back into the midfield trio. This way, another attacking player could be added to the mix and give the Reds more firepower from deeper areas.
The effort was there for all to see, but it’s now beginning to be the case of the current batch lacking the required quality to compete at the highest level. Being nearly men in the league to Leicester, in the FA Cup to West Ham, and the League Cup to City is just not good enough for Klopp. Hopefully February will be the month where Klopp realises who he needs to dispense of.
The season has just about ended for the Reds, with only the Europa League left to play for, and a certain traditional rival to get past first.