Liverpool’s Defensive Rollercoaster

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Liverpool’s defensive rollercoaster continued at Burnley. Fragility in the defensive side of their game was ruthlessly exposed by a fine counter-attacking display from the Clarets. Liverpool’s pre-season highlighted defensive woes that have continued into their first two Premier League games. The Reds have continued to concede goals at an alarming rate. Jurgen Klopp needs to address the defensive weakness, if he is to not suffer a rollercoaster season similar to Brendan Rodgers in 2013-14 or Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle team of old.

Liverpool’s Defensive Rollercoaster

Reds fans love attacking football. However, great Liverpool sides in the past also had defensive steel to compliment their swashbuckling attacking play. Imbalance in the attacking versus defensive areas of the game is now a perpetual worry for fans of the Anfield team. Burnley, to their credit, were solid and hard to break down. The Clarets expertly exposed Liverpool with two fine counter-attacking first half goals. Chances, although at a premium, were dispatched expertly by the Turf Moor side. Successful counter strikes demoralise a team dominating possession. Jurgen Klopp’s team looked shellshocked when going in at half time.

Counter-Attacks

Andre Gray presented the main threat for Burnley on the break. Pace up front is key for any side who live off 20% of the possession. Gray used his pace rather smartly and notched one of the Clarets breakaway goals. Daniel Sturridge cut a forlorn figure starting strangely on the right of the attack, after Roberto Firmino was preferred in more central striking positions.  Tactically, Sturridge on the right was a failure. The England striker was substituted in the early part of the second half. Jurgen Klopp may have to decide between the work rate of Firmino, or the goal threats of Sturridge and Divock Origi in the striking position.

Fruitless Possession

Possession without an end product is an exercise in futility. The Reds had 80% of the possession for most of the game without really producing great threats to the Burnley goal. Most noteworthy in the past few seasons, Liverpool have found it extremely difficult to break down organised teams who sit back. Plan B seems to be an issue for Klopp’s side.

Christian Benteke’s departure  is especially relevant as it has removed a more direct attacking option. Liverpool, due to Burnley’s compactness, looked one dimensional going forward. Penetrating wing play from Liverpool was almost non existent. As a result, the Burnley defenders were confident in defending the Reds possession in front of them.

Klopp’s Worries

 Concerns for the Liverpool coach are mounting, due to the fact that the Reds have conceded the first goal in both games so far.  Arsenal played very openly last week, and as a result this suited Liverpool’s fast attacking play. Attacking prowess versus the Gunners, concealed defensive issues. Sadio Mane’s electric pace was definitely missed at Turf Moor. Burnley squeezed the play and were very compact. The Clarets also allowed Liverpool to play non threatening passes in front of them. Sean Dyche’s tactics worked out perfectly. Burnley were disciplined in their approach and finished as deserved winners. For Liverpool the jury is still out. Can Liverpool leak goals and still be a force to threaten the top four positions this year?