It's time for Brendan Rodgers to reassess how things are going at Liverpool because yesterday's game was abysmal. He got his tactics wrong, made the wrong substitutions at the wrong times, and put the long term future of Raheem Sterling in danger. He is a capable manager but that doesn't mean he's above making mistakes, and this was a night to forget.
Liverpool looked like the lesser side for most of the match and once again were put to the sword by a set piece. In the 52nd minute Marco Streller poked in a rebound from a header on goal that came from a corner, which Liverpool never recovered from.
The Reds operated in a 4-2-3-1 formation that failed them for two reasons. First, the double pivot of Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard resisted Basel counter attacks with as much effectiveness as a strainer to water. The Swiss side effortlessly bypassed the defensive midfield zone throughout the match, which put immense pressure on Liverpool's back line. Even on full rest Steven Gerrard does not fit the double pivot well, but he looked particularly caught out on the back of the draining Merseyside Derby.
The second issue with the tactical set up against Basel is that Mario Balotelli was positioned alone up top, which was a mistake considering the counter attacking nature of the 4-2-3-1 formation and Balotelli's propensity to drop deep rather than making runs behind the defense. Whenever Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, or Lazar Markovic looked to kickstart a breakaway, Balotelli remained in the center of the pitch instead of making a Sturridge-esque run over the top.
The result was a frustrating day for Balotelli and the attack. Super Mario wasn't at all super and struggled to make an impression while the team's creators didn't do much to help him out. Markovic continued to struggle with his touch and misplaced multiple passes to kill off attacking moves. On the other wing Sterling was absolutely gassed and had one of his worst performances in a Liverpool kit. It was maddening to watch him suffer throughout the second half after Rodgers told the media that he was going to protect Sterling from the type of early burnout that Michael Owen experienced.
Yet it was Coutinho who made way for Lallana in the second half, which made minimal sense. Worse, it took until the 81st minute for Rodgers to insert Rickie Lambert as a partner for Balotelli, at which point Liverpool already looked resigned to losing all three points.
It's time to worry but not panic. Liverpool are sick but there's enough talent in the team to turn things around, and Rodgers is too intelligent to continue making the same mistakes.