It’s an old fairy-tale story that Liverpool’s back-line can’t defend against forwards who are physical, tall, etc. and the game against West Ham provides another challenge for the Reds to defend against the big men.
In all honesty, has been a horror thing to describe whenever Liverpool are in position to defend against so called ‘physical’ forwards or lining up to defend against any set-piece, it just feels like something drastic is around the corner, something that will change the score-line or the whole scenario.
In case of normal play, let’s take a game against West Ham for instance which took place four weeks back, the fullbacks and midfielders who have a job of stopping crosses were just standing at the edge of the box allowing crosses to come in at fast pace, West Ham had two strikers in Carroll and Valencia, two tall and physical forwards and centre-backs were all over the place dealing with those crosses.
As we see, the wide players had loads of time to think and pick out a perfect cross at a perfect pace. Against teams who play long balls and crosses, you just can’t allow crosses to fly into the box every five minutes, in the figure we see there are three players positioned to defend against two attacking players, but none of them are closing down to try and stop the cross. This has been a normal problem for Liverpool’s back-line to fail to deal with this kind of threat and fullbacks along with midfielders have to find a way to stop the initial danger of an attack, i.e, crosses.
Now, we shall discuss few points regarding defence in set-piece situation, talking about set-piece, corner comes first in mind and it has given heart-aches to many in touch with the club, Mignolet’s decision to punch/grab every corner kick is a questionable move, ok Klopp wants his keeper to command the six-yard area and look to be dominant in situations like these, but at the same time, abundance of players on both the posts just makes the goal look insecured and any connection from any head would go in regardless of what sort of connection it is. There have been few situations where corner is fed in near post and the goal-keeper has no idea where it’s coming and goes in, it has happened once with both Bogdan(against Exeter) and Mignolet(against Arsenal), the reason for this is also abundance of players on both the posts and leaving the keeper with very much to do.
Well, Klopp becomes a frustrated man when talks of his team defence is put up anytime, he himself is little circumspect about it at the moment, first and foremost he has to get his team to stop crosses especially playing against teams like West Ham, West Brom, etc., his policy to allow goal-keeper to command the whole goal area in corner situations is a questionable one, absence of players in both the posts makes it utterly difficult for a keeper to judge, there’s absolutely no protection in beside him.
So, many areas only in defence to ponder, the German as told has had many ‘intensive’ talks on how to improve the defensive stability but it remains to be seen when the last of that ‘intensive’ talk comes. Game against West Ham is another litmus test for their defence and one thing is for sure, if Liverpool allow West Ham spaces in wide areas then Anfield will be a silent place on a Saturday evening.
By Mizgan Ahmed on 29th January, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans