Liverpool have struggled badly to start the season. Two points from a possible nine means they lie in 16th place. We look at a few reasons why the Reds have struggled so far. 

Underwhelming Transfer window 

The lack of reinforcements in midfield has been a hot topic all summer. The injuries in that department have intensified calls for Liverpool to spend. So far they have resisted but they simply have to reassess because once again the midfield was found wanting. It’s the glaring weak link.

It was a big call by Klopp to drop Fabinho and play Jordan Henderson in the holding role with Milner and Elliott operating ahead of him. It clearly didn’t work. Elliott, 19, carried the threat alone. Both Henderson and Milner struggled. It was Henderson’s poor touch that left Liverpool exposed as Marcus Rashford burst away to make it 2-0 after the break. The captain was taken off soon after and replaced by Fabinho. 

Liverpool's Van Dijk failing to defend Sancho's goal

At the age of 36, going on 37, James Milner should not be required to start games of this magnitude. Milner was more advanced than Firmino in the opening 45 minutes but was never going to hurt United in the final third. Liverpool were crying out for some pace and guile through the middle. 

Understandably, eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that Keita had joined the injured list given the ongoing speculation about his future. However, sources in the player’s camp confirmed he had been hurt in Sunday’s session and was sent for a scan.

It’s hardly a surprise given his fitness record. The same goes for the current absences of Thiago and Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Sadio Mane Effect 

Sadio Mane was the focal point of the Liverpool attack in the second half of last season as they won both domestic cups and threatened to pull off an unprecedented quadruple.

The Senegal international scored 14 of his 23 goals from the turn of the year onwards. Mane was so adept at linking play. He had the strength to occupy defenders and the pace to dart in behind them. By the time Liverpool sanctioned his £35million sale to Bayern Munich in June, they had already secured the services of Darwin Nunez. It was handled well in terms of PR. Most fans were too excited about the Uruguayan new boy to be overly worried about the gap left by Mane’s exit. 

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However, three games in and Liverpool haven’t carried anything like the same threat going forward. It hasn’t helped that Firmino has started two of them. The Brazil striker, whose powers are clearly on the wane, didn’t lay a glove on United centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane. He kept coming ridiculously deep to try to get involved. He kept getting outmuscled and when a golden chance was created for him he completely missed his kick. With Jota still out, the summer exits of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino are also being felt. Liverpool are actually worse off in terms of forwards.