Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp sees positives but how concerning is Reds’ poor start?

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For any team, losing for the first time in a calendar year, in August, would be little more than a blip but for Liverpool there’s a feeling that it is more concerning than that.

The Reds’ 2-1 loss at Manchester United on Monday saw their opponents leapfrog them in the table and leave Jurgen Klopp’s side without a victory so far this season.

It is unfamiliar territory for Klopp. Liverpool have never failed to win at least one of their opening three games during his tenure, and a total of just two points from nine available leaves them five points behind defending champions Manchester City and seven adrift of leaders Arsenal.

“At this stage it feels big,” said former Reds midfielder Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports.

“I don’t think they can be thinking about City, Liverpool need to get themselves back on track. They have had a really poor start. They set such high standards but they are a million miles off them right now.

“They have to fix it quickly.”

Liverpool had 17 shots on goal with five on target – one more than Manchester United – and Klopp felt his side had done enough to take all three points.

“We should have won this game, I know it sounds ridiculous but that is how I saw it,” he said.

“I am concerned about our situation, but that is how it is.”

Slow out of the blocks proving costly

Virgil van Dijk looks disappointed after Liverpool lose at Manchester United
Virgil van Dijk received some criticism for failing to close down Jadon Sancho for Manchester United’s opener

Regardless of whether Klopp believes his side did enough to win, that task is always going to be made harder by the poor starts Liverpool have been making to games.

They finished just one point behind City at the end of last season after a strong finish to the campaign saw them push Pep Guardiola’s side for the title.

But even then, they were having to come from behind in their final few games and that has continued into this season.

Jadon Sancho’s 16th-minute goal meant Liverpool have now conceded first in seven successive league games, the first time it has happened to them in the Premier League era.

“We give every team a goal start,” said Liverpool full-back Andy Robertson. “We can’t give ourselves an uphill battle. That is what needs to change.

“In the warm up it was the quietest I have heard this stadium and they wanted something to lift them and we gave them it.

“Two points from nine is not the start we wanted. We need to pick up our performances individually and collectively.”

Reinforcements needed and Mane a big miss?

Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring for Bayern Munich
Sadio Mane has scored three goals in three league appearances for Bayern Munich this season

The more games that are played, the more Sadio Mane – who joined Bayern Munich in the summer – appears to be a big miss for Liverpool.

The Reds have had a lot of injuries to contend with and they were without the suspended striker Darwin Nunez for Monday’s game, but the absence of Mane’s energy and movement in their attack was glaring against Manchester United.

“Losing Mane was a big deal and he is tough to replace,” said former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton on BBC Radio 5 live.

For Carragher, it is midfield that provides the biggest concern.

Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Harvey Elliott all started but it was not until Fabinho – on the bench because he’s not fully fit – was brought on 14 minutes into the second half that Liverpool really started to take control.

“Liverpool have a huge problem in midfield,” said Carragher. “It is the area supporters question continuously and those questions won’t go away with performances like this.

“When people talk about injuries, the first 11 isn’t a million miles away but look at the bench – they don’t have players who can change the game.”

Liverpool’s next opportunity to get their season up and running is at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.

“To play the football we are able to play, we want to fight,” said Klopp. “We have a good home game on Saturday and Anfield has to be rocking. We have to set the fire and the rhythm.

“We will try absolutely everything that every Liverpool supporter will expect – we will fight for our lives.”

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