Will the real Liverpool please stand up?

The Reds have been unable to consistently produce the fundamentals of Jurgen Klopp's 'fighting football' philosophy, a problem they need to fix ahead of two crucial fixtures

In the aftermath of Liverpool's laboured Europa League draw in Augsburg last week, Jurgen Klopp delivered a simple yet significant request.

"I want us to play the level we are able to more often," he said, annoyed after his side only flickered the WWK Arena.
Beyond that, he was displeased by their inability to consistently produce his 'fighting football' on the pitch over the past four-and-a-half months.

And now, ahead of a critical week for the club with their Europa League fate in the balance as well as having a Cup final to prepare for, the question for Klopp is; which Liverpool will turn up? The formidable and fluid outfit that could swat away Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton so emphatically? Or will it be the lumbered side that often looks like they're in a battle with themselves?

In the club's last 10 fixtures across four competitions, three have been won in regulation time, three have been drawn and and four have resulted in defeat. A back-to-back victory occurred just once in that sequence; consecutive wins at home to Exeter and then away to Norwich.

The Reds failed to score in five games during that spell, yet smashed in a total of 17 goals. And a wider trend has seen the Merseysiders follow the three occasions where they’ve netted five or more in an encounter - against Southampton, Exeter and Aston Villa - by failing to bag in the next fixture.

Will the real Liverpool please stand up?

That a lengthy casualty list has afforded Klopp the opportunity to field an unchanged line-up in successive games just once since he took charge in October has obviously not aided consistency. However, the same XI that crushed Villa were often cumbersome in Augsburg.

"We always should always try to play as good as we are able to," the 48-year-old said post-match before pointing to a "really hard fight for consistency."

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Regardless of the names on the teamsheet, the manager rightly expects to see the primary facets of his philosophy each time Liverpool are on the pitch.

The German is not after a blitzing of every opponent, but he wants the Reds to assert themselves from kick-off, be aggressive in and out of possession, transition quickly and show incisiveness.

"There's no doubt about the individual quality of the players, there's no doubt about the character," Klopp has said. "What we have to create is a stable level of performance, that's what we have to work on."

He is not alone in his assessment. Following the goalless draw with Augsburg, captain Jordan Henderson and his deputy James Milner both highlighted Liverpool's problem of delivering in specific moments rather than over a consistent period.

It is a flaw the team will need to fix soon with two important games to tackle over the next six days: Thursday's reverse round of 32 fixture with Augsburg at Anfield and the League Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday. 

It could possibly be the last two crucial matches Liverpool play this season.

But beyond this week, the club have to build towards next season and stringing together a good run to end 2015-16 would be hugely beneficial as Klopp finalises a blueprint for his first full campaign at the helm.

More than once, the Reds boss has referenced his use of a "one-year contract" with players where regardless of the official length of their deal, he will assess them over that period and decide whether to stick or twist.

Klopp will not have had a full 12 months to run the rule over his squad come the summer transfer window, but he'll have had more than enough opportunities to gauge which of his personnel can consistently perform to the level he demands, as well as those who cannot.

Recent results suggest Liverpool have more of the latter, but the players will need to prove otherwise or run the risk of finding themselves being shipped off elsewhere.