Liverpool have had defensive woes troubling them since quite a long time. Even in the 2013-14 season, when Liverpool were flying high on confidence, it was due to the number of goals scored. There always seems to be a sense of nervousness in the Liverpool backline and the evidence is clearly seen in some of the games where the Reds have thrown away leads and have ended up losing a lot of points. Looking at the last two results, Liverpool could have managed valuable six points but ended up gathering only a single point placing them eighth in the premier league table.
The tactics or the defenders
Jurgen Klopp is known as the pioneer of the ‘gegenpressing’ and this tactic involves countering on a counter attack. The logic is that the player in possession during the counter attack is slightly vulnerable due to his expanded energy and the players have to take advantage of this vulnerability and try and win the ball from him and thus launch another counter-attack. In doing so, the defensive backline and the deeper positions of the midfield become very compact and do not give enough space to the attacking team thus halting the attack. This tactic has worked for Liverpool as well and the Reds did manage to concede fewer goals as compared to the last season.
However, the actual problem here is the personnel that he has in his team defending. Liverpool have always lacked a world-class stalwart defender who can be decisive, make those tackles and dictate the entire back-line. Martin Skrtel, who has been around at Anfield for almost 8 years now has never been able to provide that confidence at the backline. Lovren has shown enough improvement under Klopp as compared to his performances last season under Rodgers. Mamadou Sakho is good with the marking and in making tackles but he lacks those decision-making abilities which are much needed in a world-class defender.
If we look at the statistics, Liverpool have conceded more number of goals from set-pieces than their competitors at the top of the table. In the first half itself, they had conceded 13 goals from set-pieces making the percentage of goals conceded from set-pieces a massive 40%. Also, if we talk about corners in particular, Liverpool had conceded maximum goals in the premiere league in the first half. However, in the second half of the season, these numbers have improved and Klopp’s tactics are slowly settling in the camp. But, Liverpool need a commanding figure at the back who can lead the team and can make those crucial decisions during set-pieces.