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How Liverpool's Remarkable Collapse Shows That Coutinho Is Not The Main Man

How Liverpool's Remarkable Collapse Shows That Coutinho Is Not The Main Man
By Gavin Cooney Updated

As Chelsea fly, Liverpool falter. Chelsea made their statement yesterday by printing it out and nailing it to the door of the Etihad; Liverpool shot themselves in the foot. 3-1 up with fifteen minutes left, Liverpool contrived to lose 4-3, in the kind of spectacular collapse that Liverpool have specialised in over the past few years. As Klopp's side showed all the backbone of a Jelly Baby, here's what we learned.

Not all of Liverpool's problems have been eroded

Jamie Carragher has been very positive about Liverpool in the last few weeks, saying that - even when they were failing to keep clean sheets - they were only conceding one goal in a game, rather than twos and threes. Well, that defect returned with a vengeance in a strangely ponderous second-half.

They dominated the first-half, and were slow to start the second. At 2-1, however, they exuded control once again, and Emre Can seemed to seal victory with a sweet strike to make it 3-1.

Yet they would collapse, conceding two goals in three minutes through balls slung into their box.

Most worrying was the non-functioning of their attack from 3-3: hopeful, aimless long balls for Divock Origi was their only route towards retaking the lead.

Another collective meltdown would ensue, Loris Karius spilled a ball for Nathan Ake to prod it home for 4-3. While Liverpool have made great strides this season, champions don't do this.

Forget Coutinho, Joel Matip is Liverpool's key man

Liverpool fretted over the impact the loss that Phil Coutinho would make on their attack, but it was at the other end where a loss was felt most keenly. Joel Matip was a late withdrawal, and was replaced by Lucas Leiva, who was part of a central-defensive collapse in the final fifteen minutes.

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Matip is a fine defender in his own right but more important is his communication with Dejan Lovren: when the pressure came on here, Lovren and Lucas descended into anarchy: Lucas pushed up to dive into challenges, while Lovren dropped deep in conservative alarm.

They had Loris Karius to thank to bail them out of a very embarrassing mix-up that would have seen Benik Afobe make it 4-3 to Bournemouth. Balls into the box caused untold chaos, and they missed the calming presence of Matip.

Loris Karius is a problem 

Simon Mignolet has never looked good enough to be Liverpool's goalkeeper, but he is currently looking a better option than Loris Karius. The young German goalkeeper nearly diverted an easy save into his own goal in the first-half, and bar one good save from Afobe, the suffers from Claudio Bravo syndrome - he doesn't make enough saves.

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He should have done better with the second goal, while the fourth was pretty much entirely his fault. If we thought Liverpool would never win the league with Simon Mignolet, they won't win the league with him as back-up to Karius, either.

The turning point was Jordan Henderson's yellow card

Jordan Henderson was booked early in the second-half, for tripping Junior Stanislas. Up to then, Henderson had dominated the midfield, and did not allow Bournemouth exploit any gaps on the counter.

Following his booking, however, he noticeably pulled out of a couple of last-ditch tackles for fear of getting sent-off, therefore not stemming the tide of Bournemouth attacks in the last fifteen minutes.

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Further to that, Stanislas went off injured, and he was replaced by Ryan Fraser, who had quite the impact...

There is no substitute for direct running 

Sadio Mané proved a nightmare for Bournemouth: scoring the first, before his mazy run set up Liverpool's third. Klopp's substitution of Mane for Adam Lallana ceded the game to Bournemouth, but Liverpool should still have held on from there.

For Bournemouth, it was Ryan Fraser who made the difference, and ultimately ended up as the man of the match. His direct running tore Liverpool asunder, winning the penalty for the first goal, scoring the second and assisting the third.

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