Aaron Curry discusses Liverpool’s defence and how a strong back four will be crucial for success for the Reds.
In recent seasons, there has been no hiding from the fact that Liverpool’s defence has been painstakingly difficult to watch. In the past 3 Premier League campaigns, the Reds’ back line has seen a total of 148 goals netted against them in 114 games. It was something that potential transfers and targeted training could have fixed – or so we all hoped – but no drastic improvements have occurred.
Without a doubt the season with the most defensive lapses was the 2013/14 season, where we missed out on the coveted Premier League title to Manchester City. Scoring a whopping 101 goals, but then conceding a further 50 meant a goal difference of +51 didn’t make the cut that year.
Of course, there are arguments that we were unfortunate to miss out on first place. In other seasons, Liverpool’s statistics, points and all, would have been more than enough to run away with the prize. It just so happened that City were on form as well, but they conceded a lot less than us in truth. A mere 37 goals.
Looking back on results such as a 3-3 draw to Merseyside rivals Everton, and a 2-2 draw to Swansea, those were goals that could have easily been stopped and given us the valuable points to clinch the long awaited trophy. All this was rounded up in the penultimate game, as another 3-3 draw to Crystal Palace (a game which has probably stayed with all Liverpool fans to this day) effectively handed City the title.
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Losing a 3-0 lead to a Dwight Gayle’s “master class” was something nobody saw coming. It enraged everybody, including myself, and definitely highlighted the need for a switch in defence.
Up stepped Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno, who signed for the club in the following transfer window, for a combined fee of £32 million. Initially, these seemed like the kinds of signings which would stop us leaking goals like a tap but as the games came around, it was anything but.
In the same season we lost talisman Luis Suarez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge to various, yet inevitable injuries. This put more emphasis on the need to tighten up at the back, because we were going to lose a major chunk of goal scoring ability. The Reds dropped down to only scoring 52 goals, and still conceding a similar amount , 48. Teams in the top 4 were conceding goals in the mid-30’s which showed we weren’t up to scratch.
As mentioned earlier, Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno were brought in to counter this. It clearly didn’t work. They both came under a barrage of criticism, some deserved, some undeserved; alongside goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. They were the scapegoats for the fans to point a finger. And only recently, has Lovren shown his full potential under Jürgen Klopp.
Furthermore, in what was to be Brendan Rodgers’ last season in charge of Liverpool Football Club, he made one of his more respectable signings in the shape of Nathaniel Clyne. Labelled as Mr Consistent this season, he definitely added a little extra to a back-line which looks to be improving.
Albeit, the reds conceded another 50 goals in this seasons Premier League campaign, but the goal tally was upped a little thanks to firepower from Firmino, Coutinho, Origi, Sturridge and others.
In Klopp’s first summer window, he has noted that Liverpool’s defence is still in need of some dire work. By adding Loris Karius and Joel Matip to the ranks, many fans are hoping they can slot straight into the side. Hopefully they can minimise the amount of times the ball is found in the wrong goalmouth.
In addition to this, a full pre-season under Klopp and his staff will be more than enough time to fix the set-piece defending and individual errors which many fans notice constantly.