Liverpool: A defence away from being great
Yet again, Liverpool’s defence and inability to close out games come under the microscope. After their 3-3 draw with Sevilla, their qualification is still hanging in the balance. But after 45 minutes, they were cruising. However, between rash decision making and poor marking, they were hauled back to 3-2 and an injury-time equaliser assured that qualification went down to a decider against Spartak Moscow.
Where has it all been going wrong?
Klopp has spent the least of the top-6 sides on defenders over the past two years.
In the league, only six sides have conceded more than the Reds. They have the third best attack, so if their defence was tighter, it’s fair to say that Liverpool could have a few more points than they do right now.In the Champions League group stages, it’s even worse. After five games, the only team Klopp’s men have beaten is NK Maribor.
Against both Sevilla and Spartak Moscow they were held to draws in games which they dominated. It has only been defensive lapses that have caused wins to be draws. Their away match was no different in terms of the pattern, but it was more down to one player than a team. Going into the interval three goals up, few (if any pundits) would have thought the final score would have been a draw.
However, one player who Jurgen Klopp gave a chance to was one Alberto Moreno. Since the 2016 Europa League final, Reds fans have called for him to be axed promptly. The Spaniard has shown himself to be a liability and Tuesday was just another example. The left-back gave away the free-kick from which his former club scored, then eight minutes later a penalty which left the game on a knife-edge for the final half hour.
What needs to be done?
Firstly, Alberto Moreno needs to be sold, on too many occasions has he shown himself to be a liability. What’s worse is Klopp knows he is too, which was why he was taken off three minutes later. Why else would James Milner be played as a left back for a full season? Of the back five only Matip is competent enough to be a starter week in week out.
Joe Gomez really shone on international duty and his performances recently have rightly put him in the picture for a potential World Cup spot in the summer. So that leaves centre-back and goalkeeping positions that need addressing. Karius did not do a lot wrong, but he’s not the solid set of hands that could steer you to a title push. Dejan Lovren had a good game, but once again he’s been too inconsistent to be a starter.
There are two players I have identified who Liverpool should buy:
The Stoke goalkeeper is arguably England’s top stopper. Joe Hart has his days, but the Potters no.1 has surpassed him now. He’s too good to be at the bet365 Stadium, a player-plus-cash deal could manifest with either Karius or Simon Mignolet going the other way.
The 21-year-old is tipped to be the future of German football. The Leverkusen centre-back has just the three international caps but he’s now in his third season at the BayArena, he could be ready to make that transition to a bigger club.