Reds’ defender Dejan Lovren has attributed the two dropped points at Sunderland to fatigue suffered as a result of the packed holiday schedule.
Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light less than 48 hours after they’d overcome Manchester City in an energy sapping contest at Anfield, and Lovren claims the team’s exploits in beating City hampered them at Sunderland.
“It’s not possible to play two games at a high level in the space of just two days, especially as the first one was such a massive game against Man City when we were running everywhere” he explained.
“Physically, it was really tough. I don’t know why the fixtures are arranged like that. But I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t want to look for excuses.”
Croatian international Lovren might not want to use it as an excuse, but there is little doubt that Liverpool’s performance at Sunderland was influenced by having to play two days earlier.
Look at the distance covered by the team over the three festive games:
Against Stoke on December 27th Liverpool covered a season high 120.2km. Four days later against City that total dropped to 117.4km and then at Sunderland it plummeted to a season low 108km. As far as excuses go, it appears to be a pretty valid one.
The fixture list has been a nonsense this year. It’s bad enough having to play two games in three days, but if it was the same for everybody then at least there would be some parity to it. It’s not the same though, not even close.
Leaders Chelsea have had nine days rest over the Festive period and have not even had to leave London, whereas Liverpool had to endure three games in a seven day period including a trip to the North East? Poor old Southampton had it even worse, with just three days off and a long trip to Merseyside to finish off a spell of three games in six days (all of which they lost).
Given the difficulty for players to produce their best form so soon after a physically and emotionally draining game, it’s baffling how Jurgen Klopp failed to make numerous changes to his starting line up.
The German made just one change from the side that had beaten City, and that was an enforced one as skipper Jordan Henderson was ruled out through injury. Making just one change was a big gamble that backfired.
You can’t play odds as long as that and expect to win, it’s like visiting a SuperLenny casino and putting everything on a single number, because, hey, you never know, it might pay off. Klopp didn’t play the odds and it was costly.
Lovren though is refusing to be downhearted about it, particularly with the Reds still well placed in second spot. “It is what it is. we need to keep moving on and keep our heads high. A point is better than nothing.”
“There is still half a season to go” he added. “There are so many games in front of us and in front of Chelsea”.
Indeed. Chelsea have to visit White Hart Lane to face in form Tottenham on Wednesday night, and if Spurs were to win that one then Liverpool’s result at Sunderland would not look quite so bad, particularly with Arsenal also dropping points at Bournemouth on Tuesday night.