Liverpool: Defence yet to be improved
During the 2013/14 season Liverpool looked to play an open, attacking style of play under Brendan Rodgers which lead to them scoring 101 goals in the season and a second place finish. However on the other hand they conceded a total of 50 goals in 38 Premier League games, more than 11th placed Crystal Palace. Fans were constantly annoyed with the poor decisions and mistakes made by Liverpools defensive line.
Throughout the season Rodgers changed the back line many times, Liverpool experimented with 5 at the back (Three centre-backs and two wingbacks) but for the majority of the season played with a back four.
Daniel Agger has for a long time been considered Liverpool’s best defender, he is comfortable on the ball and a good reader of the game, but last season that didn’t seem to be the case on a regular basis and lead to him losing his place in the starting line up.
Mamadou Sakho was brought from PSG for a fee of 15 million pounds, his tough tackling and high work-rate were expected to shine in the Premier League but it seemed to be the mistakes in his game that drew the attention. Sakho is a good player, he has shown this at PSG, for France and occasionally at Liverpool and should be expected to improve and become much more consistent this season.
Kolo Toure gave Liverpool fans many head scratching moments and nervous twitches last season and in the end he went out of favour with Brendan Rodgers. His season could only be described as erratic but his short stay at Liverpool may have come to an end with Turkish club Trabzonspor looking to buy the experienced centre-back off of Liverpool. Martin Skrtel was the only Centre-back to show consistency throughout the season which saw him start all but two games for Liverpool.
It seems that Martin Skrtel will be Liverpools rock at the back if he continues his good form and if Sakho can get some consistency he will start beside the Slovak. Agger looks to have been replaced by Sakho and his career as a Red could be coming to an end, as does Kolo Toure’s. Brendan Rodgers also has the likes of Tiago Ilori and Sebastian Coates who are both yet to be given the chance to impress at Anfield but could be used as backup in the case of injury or to play in the cup games.
Since arriving in 2009 Glen Johnson has been Liverpool’s number one right back, but in recent times his performance level has declined dramatically with many Liverpool fans calling for him to be replaced. Jose Enrique is yet another inconsistent performer in Liverpool’s defense and missed most of last season due to injury.
It has been widely publicised that Brendan Rodgers is looking for a new and improved left back, with links to Alberto Moreno, Ben Davies and Ryan Bertrand. Liverpool’s academy has produced some decent young full backs in recent times with Andre Wisdom(Going on loan to West Brom), Jon Flanagan and Martin Kelly all getting a go in the first team and impressing at one time or another. Maybe it is time for one of these young prospects to step up and make a position their own, however I expect Johnson to start the season at right back while a new signing will be on the team sheet at left back leaving Jose Enrique, Jon Flanagan and Martin Kelly to provide backup.
Individually Liverpool have some quality defenders with the likes of Agger, Skrtel and Sakho however their quality is yet to be showcased on a consistent basis and needs to be improved. It is clear that Brendan Rodgers has some work to do with his defense, but maybe the pieces aren’t as bad as the whole.
Like many Liverpool fans I’m expecting that there will be improvements to Liverpool’s defense made by Rodgers during the transfer window to attempt to fix the leak at the back. It has been reported that Liverpool are trying to buy the likes of centre-back Dejan Lovren and left backs Alberto Moreno and Ben Davies however a right back is yet to be strongly linked with the club.
Dejan Lovren is a fine defender and would be welcomed at Anfield and could replace Martin Skrtel as the starting right sided centre-back. Left fullback looks to be the most likely to change with Liverpool reportedly chasing Alberto Moreno but if a fee cannot be agreed it looks as though Rodgers will get Ben Davies from his former club Swansea. Either of these players would be an improvement on Aly Cissokho and hopefully Jose Enrique too.
Liverpool conceded thirteen headed goals last season and should expect much better. A lot of this comes down to marking on set pieces and needs to be dramatically improved by the start of the next season. This is one thing that does not take bags of money, hopefully Brendan Rodgers and his coaching staff will be able to coach the bad marking habits out of Liverpools defenders and teach them how to defend set pieces properly.
It is clear that Liverpools defense needs to be dramatically improved before the season begins and if it is then Liverpool fans should see an improvement on their teams performances throughout the season. Some of the improvements needed comes down to personnel, while a lot of their problems can (hopefully) be fixed on the training ground. Either way Liverpool fans will be hoping to see the improvements from game one of the Premier League when they face Southampton at Anfield.