Paul Stafford deplores Liverpool’s set pieces naivety as the Reds failed to beat Chelsea at home to cap off a disappointing January.
Liverpool were undone by a set-piece. Again! It’s the same old story. After Liverpool dominated possession in the first half, they became undone by yet another set-piece.
Eden Hazard was barely touched by Adam Lallana, yet he went down like he’d been pole-axed. It’s to be expected – that seems to be the Chelsea way and even encouraged by their Italian manager. In a replay, Hazzard looked to have leaned into Lallana to ensure a free kick and another set-piece opportunity against a nervy Liverpool defence.
And that is when it happened. The debate which is: was Simon Mignolet unfairly disadvantaged when he was still sorting his wall out when David Luiz stepped up to slot the free kick home?
It was a deplorable goal to concede, yet, to give Simon Mignolet the benefit of the doubt, one can accept the fact that he could not hear the official’s whistle during the raucous affair. However, regardless if he heard the whistle or not, he has to be ready for any trickery from a Chelsea side that will do anything to win.
He later would redeem himself by saving a Diego Costa penalty, but the goal should not have been scored in the first place. If Simon Mignolet saved that goal, which he should have, and with Costa’s penalty being saved as well, Liverpool could have won the match 1-0. Costa didn’t exactly cover himself in glory either, making sure he brushed against Jöel Matip’s knee after he dangled out a leg, then missing his spot kick. In fact, Matip was becoming increasingly upset by Costa’s flopping to the ground.
And then there was the Wijnaldum incident in which a vile Chelsea fan, upset after he had equalised, winged a bottle at him as he was celebrating. This type of behaviour is unacceptable in a sporting event in this day and age, and if the perpetrator is found on camera, Chelsea Football Club would do well to give the fan a lifetime ban from all matches! It is obvious that Chelsea fans still have a grievance over Liverpool knocking them out of the Champions League on two occasions, evidenced by them perpetuating the ‘Gerrard slip’ during their title run in 2013/14 all but ending Liverpool’s chances.
In regards to Liverpool’s defensive woes and their inability to defend a set-piece, Jürgen Klopp has had ample time to sort it out. With the way in which the Reds play, and the way that Klopp has his team set up to play ‘all out attack,’ Liverpool need to score first, otherwise, they’re chasing the game and leave themselves vulnerable at the back for a counter attack. And with Liverpool’s nervy defence, they cannot allow the opposing team to score first, allowing them to sit back, ‘park the bus,’ and get ten men behind the ball and pack the defence.
Liverpool, of late, have been horrible in breaking down a defence when needing to score. Klopp has had plenty of time to correct this during the transfer window but has failed to strengthen in areas which needed strengthening.
He had the chance to sign a decent keeper in Joe Hart, but did nothing. He had a chance to sign William Carvalho, a position that is in dire need of strengthening to protect a deplorable back four, but didn’t. And finally, he had an absolute fabulous chance to sign Dahoud, a player Liverpool were thinking of signing anyway, when it was learned that he was available for ten million pounds, beating to the punch the likes of AC Milan, Juventus and Barcelona, who will most certainly bid for his services in the summer. Instead, Klopp chose to leave it up to chance in the summer, a decision that may come back to haunt him.