Poor defensive record away from home: –
Liverpool were given another hiding at the hands of Tottenham with a record Premier League crowd watching at Wembley. This is not the first time Jurgen Klopp’s team got opened up so easily away from home this season. A 5-0 drubbing at City and conceding cheaply against Watford, Newcastle and Leicester explains us the current situation of collective shoddiness.
Last season stats vs the fellow Top 6: –
It was against teams like Tottenham, Manchester City that Liverpool played their best games previously. Last season, they only conceded 9 goals in 10 games home and away against the fellow top 6, least among the lot. In addition, Klopp’s men took 20 points out of the possible 30 with eventual champions Chelsea also being 4 points behind in that table.
The most relevant stat of those games were the possession, Liverpool had an average of 50.3%. This clearly suggests that in games vs Spurs or Manchester City or Arsenal (47% possession in 6 fixtures against them last season), Klopp had set his side to sit back and play on the counter-attack while pressing in middle and lower blocks.
Contradictory, in the game against Spurs yesterday, the Reds had 64% possession and a 1-4 defeat to show. It shows that managers like Pochettino, Guardiola have taken a leaf out of mid-table managers’ book on how to deal with Klopp’s Liverpool. Spurs were compact and defensive off the ball while exploiting the weakness of Liverpool on the counter-attack.
Not buying replacements in defence: –
Ok, we can talk about Lovren’s mistakes and Mignolet’s errors over the past years. The fact that Klopp and his transfer committee couldn’t find their replacements last summer is more drastic to think. By subbing the defender half an hour into the game wasn’t just embarrassing for the player, it also showed the guilt of a manager having faith in him.
Let’s now put some light on why the manager and other transfer men thought it’s Van Dijk or no one as a replacement centre-back in the window. The above stats against big teams is possibly the reason Klopp thought ok, apart from mistakes against small teams here and there, his defence is good enough to fight against the big teams and win trophies.
But sadly, the fact that he has mid-level defenders in his squad who are not good enough to compete both in Europe and the league at the same time, he is getting sinewave natured graph performances from them. One week good and the other week or midweek, very poor and shambolic just because the mindset of a champion isn’t there. This is the reason why even the German who kept faith in the defence, apart from Matip, assembled by his predecessor, couldn’t explain all the mistakes.
Last season, the good defensive performances against big teams happened because the team had shape and they were not too open and vulnerable to counter-attacks. This time, the opposite took place and defenders are having no security in front of them. It has been said earlier and repeated now, it is the system which is a failure and not the players all the time. Lovren’s mistakes were schoolboy yesterday which might end his Liverpool career, maybe even Van Dijk’s inclusion would not solve the whole problem.
Read More: – Problems which lead to Koeman’s exit from Everton
Now, few might say this is the first time in a while, Liverpool got the battering of this kind against a fellow big team. The defeat against Manchester City was all due to being down to 10 men. They should probably change their minds now. In that game at Etihad, Liverpool were on the front foot no doubt but the first City goal was scored when Mane was on the pitch. De Bruyne just cut open the whole of Reds’ midfield and defence with one pass, why, because they got expansive and the centre-backs were miles apart.
City could have scored more with Liverpool chasing the game and opening themselves up as they did against Spurs. Not ideal to talk about that game but the way Klopp has excused it just because they were down to 10 men is not good for a big club manager.
Overall, one should say the manager and his transfer committee misunderstood the situation regarding their squad. They probably overestimated the squad which is a rarity in any field. This is now leading to heavy prices being paid in the middle of a season. It might also lead to players like Coutinho wanting to leave the club even more. If the replacement of the centre-backs and change in system doesn’t happen soon, the Liverpool future under Klopp will be a huge failure no matter how many they score or create.