Jurgen Klopp has been 'BLINKERED' this season, blasts Paul Merson

Jurgen Klopp has been ‘BLINKERED’ this season and his refusal to change his system has ‘exposed’ his rookie defenders, blasts Paul Merson as he tells Liverpool flops ‘you cannot keep hiding behind Virgil van Dijk’s injury’

  • Paul Merson has accused Jurgen Klopp of being too stubborn in his approach
  • The Sky Sports pundit also said Virgil van Dijk’s injury should not be an excuse
  • Liverpool are eighth in the Premier League after six home defeats in a row
  • Merson says Klopp needs to change his system to protect his defenders

Jurgen Klopp has been ‘blinkered’ this season and his refusal to change system has ‘exposed’ his rookie defenders, according to Paul Merson.

The Sky Sports pundit has called on the underperforming Reds to stop ‘hiding behind Virgil van Dijk’s injury’ as they look to recover from six home defeats in a row.

Liverpool are languishing in eighth place in the Premier League and face RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie tonight, and Merson says it is time for Klopp to make changes.

Jurgen Klopp has been ‘blinkered’ in refusing to change system this season, says Paul Merson

Freefalling Liverpool suffered a sixth straight home defeat in the Premier League on Sunday

‘This is hard to say but I think Jurgen Klopp has been a bit blinkered at Liverpool,’ he wrote in his column for Sky Sports.

‘At the moment, they haven’t got the personnel in defence to keep things tight. If Van Dijk and (Joe) Gomez aren’t there, Liverpool’s centre backs aren’t good enough. That screams at me that they needed to switch to a back three.

‘That would give you a bit more protection and it would just change things up a bit. However, he stuck with 4-3-3 time and time again, and they’ve been exposed.’

Klopp’s side have been hampered by Van Dijk’s absence since October, when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament following Jordan Pickford’s wild challenge in the first Merseyside derby of the season. 

The Reds boss has been forced to experiment with various centre-back combinations as a result, and signed two backup defenders in Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies in January.

Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams formed Liverpool’s 20th different defensive pairing of the season against Fulham on Sunday, as the Premier League champions slumped to a 1-0 defeat courtesy of Mario Lemina’s low strike.  

‘They can’t defend and they are letting in too many goals,’ Merson wrote.

‘Klopp should have been able to take a step back and seen the need to change things up, play three at the back and be fair to the players who have filled in in defence like Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak, who only arrived in January.

The Reds need to stop ‘hiding behind Virgil van Dijk’s (right) injury’ according to Merson

The Sky Sports pundit wrote in his weekly column that Klopp needed to change to a back three

‘These players are at one of the best clubs and one of the best supported in the world. They have now got to stand up and take responsibility.

‘They are at Liverpool to perform and not feel sorry for themselves because of injuries. If they want to play for Liverpool, you cannot just wait and rely on Van Dijk coming back. You cannot keep hiding behind Van Dijk’s injury.’

Liverpool’s Premier League campaign now appears to be an exercise in damage limitation after the string of losses at Anfield, where they previously went 68 league games unbeaten. 

Their Champions League prospects look much brighter, however, having recorded a convincing 2-0 victory against Leipzig in the ‘away’ leg in Budapest. 

They will look to avoid any hiccups against the Bundesliga outfit when they face them at the same venue tonight.

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