If Liverpool’s attack is keeping everybody on the edge of their seats, Liverpool’s defence is giving the fans and all the FPL owners’ reason not to trust the backline. While Liverpool has scored 25 goals in 13 games, their defence has leaked 18 goals which ranked 8th in the most goals conceded category.
Liverpool’s closest title challenge came in 2008/09 and 2013/14 season where they outscored and came second respectively but lost out narrowly because of their leaky defence. Dejan Lovren, who made 29 appearances in the 2016/17 season made only 41 tackles with a success rate of 76%. The season before this, he made 24 appearances with 34 tackles, ending with a success rate of 74%. This season, Lovren has just made 8 appearances with a tackle success rate of just 63%. Joel Matip, who joined in the 2016/17 season, made 29 appearances and made a meagre 47 tackles, came up with a success rate of 74%. Joel Ward, who plays for Crystal Palace made 89 tackles and finished 14th in the league with them, ends up on the higher side than the two main centre-backs for Liverpool. Ragnar Klavan ended up with 25 tackles in 20 appearances, lower than players such as Andrea Ranocchia and Angelo Ogbonna. The 3 centre backs made a combined 95 tackles in the 2016/17 season, 1 more than James Milner who is a midfielder and was playing as a left back.
Liverpool fans who were expecting some transfer business in the summer were disappointed due to the lack of activity for the centre-back position. Liverpool, who are ruthless in front of goal, haven’t been able to keep the opponents quiet. Simon Mignolet kept 9 clean sheets in 28 appearances in the 2016/17 season, a stat which is alarming for a team with high ambitions. Lorius Karius is no better, keeping 3 clean sheets in 10 appearances in a disappointing season for the Merseysiders. 42-50- 48-50- 43-40- 44 – the number of Premier League goals conceded by Liverpool over the last seven seasons, while 33-36- 32-37- 43-29- 37 – the number of goals conceded by the Premier League champions over the last seven seasons. Mignolet has played 12 matches in the league, keeping 4 clean sheets but also conceding 18 goals, out of which 5 goals came in the match against Manchester City. The Reds conceded 12 goals from set pieces in 2016/17, same as Burnley and Everton. Another alarming stat which will not do justice to the defence is that Liverpool has conceded 44 goals from set pieces since 2014/15, which makes up 31% of the total goals conceded.
Simon Mignolet has had some good games but has made many mistakes as well
Klopp renowned for his attacking style of play known as Gegenpress relies on players hounding down the opposition and getting possession back works well against teams who like to sit back and defend but won’t work against teams that are superior aerially. As the great Sir Alex Ferguson said, “Attack wins you games, Defence wins you titles”. Teams fighting for the title won’t sit back and defend but would exploit the weakness posed by Liverpool. The Reds have to look at defensive options who would lead the team from the back and not shy away from making tackles.