Sunday, September 23, 2018

Liverpool suffering a case of déjà vu

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 13 Aug 2017


Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has not yet sorted out the Reds defensive shortcomings

I have never tried to hide my admiration for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, even as a fan of the team from across Stanley Park.

I have admired the affable German boss since his time at Dortmund when he overcame German overlords Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

His football philosophy is one of playing passing football with the emphasis on attacking football. He managed to perfect that in two glorious campaigns with BVB.

However, despite his Liverpool team progressing since his arrival, the Reds still have a major problem in defence. The Merseysiders defensive deficiencies were there for all to see in the Reds 3-3 opening day Premier League draw at Watford.

Defence has not improved since last season

When Liverpool finished last season with four consecutive clean sheets it looked as if Klopp had finally sorted out one of the problems that had cost the Reds the chance of winning the title.

However, the Liverpool defence returned to an almost keystone cops like performance at Watford. The Reds zonal marking again cost them two goals, as two players scored goals when Reds players were marking zones.

A zone has never scored a goal, whereas opposition players tend to take chances when gifted to them. It was not just the two goals from set-pieces that were of concern for the Reds. On a number of occasions, Liverpool looked vulnerable at the back.

The fact that teenage full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was arguably the Reds best performer in defence tells its own story.

Klopp has not learnt from previous mistakes

As much of a fan of Klopp that I am, it is hard not to see that the German is not learning from his mistakes when it comes to his side’s defence. Watford put in a spirited display, but the Reds would have expected to beat the Hornets.

Liverpool’s main priorities this summer were signing a left-back and even a centre-back, hence the stalking of Southampton star Virgil van Dijk. Well from the outside looking in, they were the Reds priority.

Liverpool did bring in a left-back in Scotland international Andrew Robertson from Hull. Yet, for some reason, Klopp decided that Spaniard Alberto Moreno was a better choice in the position at Watford.

The former Sevilla star had produced a few decent performances in pre-season. However, he is still the same player and was unlikely to turn into an outstanding player over the summer.

Frankly, the 25-year-old has struggled to impress for the Reds since his arrival on Merseyside in 2014. The Spaniard did not have a particularly bad game on Saturday. However, his presence along with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Dejan Lovren in that Reds backline seems like a recipe for disaster.

Klopp has always been a boss who would prefer his team to win 4-3 than 1-0. However, unfortunately for the German and the Reds their Achilles heel struck again in the dying minutes against Watford.

Not going to win the Premier League title

Liverpool are fantastic to watch when going forward. The summer signing of Egyptian international winger Mohamed Salah has only added to their potential for producing brilliant football. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were also on song at points during the game at Vicarage Road.

Even without the creative talents of want away playmaker Philippe Coutinho, the Reds were deadly in attack. However, their defensive situation was a case of déjà vu.

The Reds are outsiders for the title at odds of 14/1 to win the Premier League title this season. I doubt many will be rushing to their bookies, laptops or phones to put that bet on after the Reds performance against Watford.

Liverpool fans probably already knew that their team had failed to sort out the problems of last season in the summer. The Watford game has just underlined those problems. Maybe even the addition of a new centre-back will not solve a problem of Klopp’s on making.

No matter how well the Liverpool attack performs, if the defence is conceding three goals a game the Reds will struggle in the fight for a top-four place, never mind the title.

Can Jurgen Klopp find a solution to Liverpool’s defence problems?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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