Dissecting Liverpool’s Defending Against Norwich City

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The dust has settled on what the scoreline suggests will be looked back upon as a Premier League classic. But, in truth, Liverpool’s game against Norwich ended 5-4 only because of some horrible defending, especially from the visitors.

As I will try to show by the end of this piece, none of the four goals that we conceded yesterday stemmed from brilliant Norwich play. All four goals could have been avoided by just sticking to the basics of defending.

Disecting Liverpool Defence

First goal: It is a known fact that we generally don’t deal too well with corners, and teams will exploit that. As Klopp said yesterday, teams might look to play the ball off our players and win themselves corners because we defend them so woefully.

The actual corner, we get caught one against two at the back post. When the ball comes across to Henderson, he should be looking to head that wide, and not right back into the mix, as he did. Look at Kolo Toure when the ball comes back in to the box.

Disclaimer: The images I’ve used are the best screen grabs I could get. So, they may not be of the best quality. My apologies in advance for that.


He is the one circled in the image, and there are three Norwich players – Naismith, Bassong and Mbokani behind him.

From what I’ve seen of football, when you’re playing as a centre-back, you always want to be goal side of your man, so that you can react to whatever turns he makes. But Toure goes AWOL for a second and leaves Mbokani alone with Sakho. But, one could argue that there is no way Sakho should allow the striker to have the ball inside the box for so long, without any concerted pressure. And if you want be incredibly critical, the shot did go straight at Mignolet, although he wouldn’t have seen it until the very last second, especially with it coming in between Sakho’s legs.

Second Goal: The below image is when Ivo Pinto gets the ball on the right wing. As you can see, Naismith is not even in the frame.


Here, the circled player is Lucas. Forward to a few seconds later, when Naismith ghosts into the box


Lucas is in exactly the same position. As the defensive midfielder, it should be his responsibility to track Naismith’s run. The Scot was playing off the lone striker Mbokani, and Lucas should really have been shadowing him, especially when he was making such a run. Once he’s been let away, the Scot made no mistake, firing across Mignolet, although the Belgian might have done better.

Third Goal: Fully down to Alberto Moreno. Gets caught wrong side of Naismith first. Then makes a clumsy challenge from behind that he got away with because he got a slight piece of the ball. He still found himself behind Naismith, and made an inexplicable decision to jump in (I will not call that a tackle) and blatantly fouled the former Everton man. Poor decision making.

Fourth Goal: A long ball upfield from a goalkeeper, and we find ourselves in this position.


The circle features Sakho and Can against Jerome and Bassong. That is a reasonable position to be in defensively, for a long ball coming in. But after this, for some strange reason, neither of the Liverpool players jump, and  they allow the ball to bounce. After that, it is easy for Jerome to play it to Bassong, who lashed home a fantastic strike that gave Mignolet no chance.

So, in summary, all the four goals for Norwich were brought about by some strange decision-making and individuals not taking enough responsibility. Especially with the second and fourth goal, our players should be taking charge of the situation. Neither can a defensive midfielder be stationary with a runner coming from deep, not should centre-backs ever let the ball bounce. With Moreno, an absolute brain-freeze. The first goal was a collective defensive failure.

Jurgen Klopp has lots to think about, with some tough tests looming large, where such generosity will not be repaid in kind, by the opposition.

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  1. On the first one you blame Toure for not being Goal side of the Norwich players but could really blame Sakho for being goal side instead of pushing forward to leave the Norwich players offside. All in all still bad def being on all goals. Moreno unfortunately is too much of a liability on defense for the little he contributes on attack which excited us so much in his first games at lfc

    • Look at the first one again there are another 2 players on Sakho’s line so even if he had pushed up it wouldn’t have been offside

  2. We really need a commanding CB and for me Sakho is not it. He doesn’t challenge for the ball while its in the air and lets it fall to the feet of the Norwich striker. The second goal was spot on as Can and Lucas let Naismith drift in and no one is within 5 yards when he gets the ball that’s completely unacceptable defending. The 3rd goal we won’t even mention and the 4th goal Sakho is in position to clear and gets nudge out. I do like that Klopp has gone to man coverage on set pieces but too often our players are watching and not attacking the ball.


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