Liverpool have been a Jekyll and Hyde team to watch this pre-season. The attack has fired, mis-fired and then fired again; whereas the Liverpool defence has been leaking consistently.
Liverpool have spent big money since Kenny Dalglish took over, and they started out by winning 4-3 and 6-3 in two games in Asia. Then, after the goals flowed for them in the Far East, they dried up back in Europe with 3-0 defeats at Hull and Galatasaray. Last night, they were pegged back to a 3-3 draw with Valerenga as the goals returned at the attacking end, but also continued to seep in on the defensive side.
Two wins, two draws and a defeat so far says that Liverpool have been inconsistent in pre-season. However, the one consistency in all their performances? The Liverpool defence has shipped 3 goals in each game.
The Liverpool defence was woeful under Woy
For Liverpool it was a tale of two seasons last year. Under Roy Hodgson the Reds looked confused about his system, as they flitted between a 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formation, conceding more goals than they scored. In 23 Premier League matches under Roy Hodgson, Liverpool only scored 26 goals, while 29 were let in.
The Liverpool defence is denying under Dalglish
Under Kenny Dalglish, the pass and move Liverpool returned and so too did their attacking football, as they not only scored more, but tightened up at the back to become on the league’s stingiest defences:
Avg Goals Scored
Avg Goals conceded
Under Roy Hodgson
Under Kenny Dalglish
In 15 Premier League games with King Kenny in charge, the Reds scored 33 – seven more than the 23 matches under Hodgson – while only 15 went in their own net.
So, is Liverpool’s lapse pre-season defending something for them to worry about?
Liverpool have been rotating their line-up just as much as any side in pre-season, which is unsettling for any defence. All the best units in the league have a consistent centre-back partnership, and only rotate through injury.
Rotation is not the only factor though. Liverpool have been missing two defensive keys for them from last year:
No sign of Skrtel
The one big factor missing this pre-season has been Martin Skrtel. The Slovakian stopper played in every minute of Liverpool’s last Premier League campaign and was a big reason that the Reds kept 7 clean sheets in 15 matches under Dalglish. Skrtel’s absence is undoubtedly part of the reason to blame for Liverpool leaking goals.
Leave-taking Lucas Leiva
The other big miss is Lucas Leiva, who is still recovering from the Copa America. The once maligned midfielder had his best season as a Red last year, as he finally started to fulfil the potential that had been talked about for some time.
Is the lapse Liverpool defence a cause for concern?
Right now in pre-season? No. Liverpool will be just fine once Martin Skrtel and Lucas Leiva return to the line-up. Add in Luis Suarez, who holds the ball up and retains possession well, and normal service will be resumed.
Liverpool are also trying to put together a new midfield. They’ve signed Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stuart Downing, who need to be integrated in to the system and get used to playing with each other.
Time is running out for their three new recruits and they’ll need to sort it out soon, as Liverpool play both Arsenal and Spurs away in the first five matches. Liverpool will be battling the two North London clubs for the final Champions League spot and will not want to loose early ground like they did last season.