Liverpool go into late January and early February with run of both Cup and League games where defence stability is the route for success.
Klopp’s men continue to face two-day gap matches with persisting problem of defence having noses in front of them. Liverpool are still not a team who score frequently and consistently outscore opponents, for them defensive stability needs to be a primary assignment whenever they enter the field of play.
Defending in moving ball situations has been better as far as Liverpool under Klopp is concerned, but poor marking in set-pieces still concerns the German who was a worried man after another loss(against Manchester United) due to a mistake in defending a set-piece.
Let’s take a look at how Liverpool may shape in their next game against Norwich away to Carrow Road and we’ll also look a bit at how Reds can improve their defending from dead ball situations, especially corners:-
Klopp has opted for a ‘false 9’ 4-3-3 system or a 4-2-3-1, Firmino has led the line well in two of the big games at Anfield, away from home to a promoted side, the German may opt for a more physical figure in the box as the Canaries will sit deep and defend in sets of four and five. So Benteke may get the nod ahead of the Brazilian, but Belgian’s presence may just hamper the game-plan which Klopp loves to implement; high-line pressing of tight spaces and force opposition back-line to make a mistake, Firmino in that ‘floating number 9’ role has been a revelation and his different position play all the time keeps everyone guessing, with the Brazilian at the top, pressing higher up the pitch is a lot more easier and it’s a dilemma for Klopp whether to go for big-strength Belgian at the top or continue with floating number 9 Firmino and look to press Norwich City in tight spaces.
Now comes the area where we will focus on, dead-ball situation defending, especially corners, Klopp and defensive management of Liverpool opts for no players in either of the posts, allowing Mignolet to command the box and try to punch/grab the balls coming from corners almost every time. We shall see when players are guarding the two posts of the goal, how it can allow the goalkeeper to easily command the box:-
As we see, if players are placed on both the posts, then corners coming in flat into the near post or floating into the far post can be dealt by these two men. What Liverpool generally do is vacate both the posts, goalkeeper is ready to jump on anything that is coming in the crowd, eventually leaving the gap both in near and far post areas, if any corner coming in flat or floated in either of these posts, goalkeeper struggles to deal with it and goals were being conceded directly from corners. If both the posts are guarded then goalkeeper can easily come out and look to punch/grab the ball and will command the situation because he knows there is some kind of security behind him.
These are subtle things that are needed to be shored up when Reds are defending corners, it seems a very small thing but it will make a huge difference as we saw in our analysis.
Klopp would be desperate to get the best out of his defence especially against Norwich, a clean sheet is the must for this wobbly back-line and even though Norwich may not threaten much but set-pieces are very important and needs to be defended in astute manner.
All in all Norwich vs Liverpool should be a good watch, as expected Liverpool go in as favorites but unpredictability in the Premier League and vulnerability of Reds in set-pieces can haunt them back too.
By Mizgan Ahmed on 21st January, 2016