Under Brendan Rodgers Liverpool have emerged as one of the most entertaining sides in England and probably in Europe as well. Last season, they played some breath-taking football and came agonisingly close to winning the Premier League title.
Although the Reds have suffered two defeats already, Liverpool continue to stick to their cavalier style and approach as instilled by their manager.
However, one issue sticks out like a sore thumb and remains unsolved – Liverpool’s defence. Last season, they conceded 50 league goals, more than any other teams in top five. This season, five goals have been conceded already and it seems like they haven’t learnt from their past mistakes.
It must be frustrating for Rodgers to see his side making these same mistakes (failure to deal with set pieces) again and again. The Reds have only managed two clean sheets in their past 13 league matches (both against Tottenham) but it’s the manner of the goals conceded that irks most.
“The one we conceded is disappointing for sure,” Rodgers said after Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa.
“We have to do better down the side of the pitch. We have to defend better, that’s where it starts. Just defend, don’t try and be clever. Don’t try and play, just defend and don’t let them have the set-piece. Then when the ball comes in the box we lose the first duel.
“They lost their marker too easily. It was unfortunate, and Dejan Lovren is a wonderful defender, strong and aggressive, but we have to do better in that situation.”
So, where lies the main problem? Is it due to a lack of strong leader at the back or the player losing their focus time to time?
Liverpool’s playing style is also partly responsible here. In an attempt to play an adventurous style of football, the jittery back four gets brutally exposed almost each and every time.
Central midfielders have also struggled to give the defenders proper support as well. In absence of a solid defensive midfielder (Lucas is a spent force and Gerrard doesn’t provide enough assurance), Liverpool miss someone who would provide a safety-shield for the back four, someone similar to Nemanja Matic, Javier Mascherano, Daniele de Rossi or Manchester City’s Fernando.
Lack of experience can be seen as one of the reasons why Liverpool are badly struggling at the back. Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren, both are regulars for their country but still relatively new to this Liverpool set-up. Same applies for Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo as well.
Having said that, these are indeed worrying signs for Liverpool because the situation has hardly improved from last season despite being adding good defenders to the squad. Liverpool must pay serious attention to this problem now, else, they might face humiliations against top teams in the Champions League.