Liverpool’s Defensive failures against Swansea can’t be repeated

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“Nearly everything around this goal was wrong(the Swansea winner),

“It started with a long ball, which should not have been a surprise as they played many of them. Our reaction was not good, we strolled back, we had just scored to make it 2-2 and we couldn’t switch back into a defensive mode,

“We were too passive. The defending for all three goals was not good enough.”

The defeat to Swansea was hard to stomach. Liverpool are frightening. Frighteningly good going forward and frighteningly bad in defence. It’s the latter that is causing us a lot of problems, especially when the former isn’t firing on all cylinders.

The Reds couldn’t convert their first-half dominance into a lead and were punished for it. The opening 10 minutes of the second-half was shambolic as we gifted the away side two easily preventable goals. However, going behind it the fuse and as the net rippled following on from Firmino’s sublime second to make it 2-2 it was as though the collective we (fans in the stadium and the players on the pitch) had finally woken up.

But then, in what’s quickly becoming familiar fashion, we gifted them a third goal in what was the eventual winner. It was like deja vu.

“The final mistake is sometimes goalkeeper or defender, but most of the time it’s seven or eight players.”

Klopp is right. It was a collective failure against Swansea. It’s unfair to single out one or two individuals. The manager is just as frustrated as we, the fans, are. It’s hard because it’s not something he can coach. He’s done all he can on the training pitch and when it works we look fantastic but when it doesn’t we look terribly exposed.  He knows the inconsistencies, and the lapses in concentration and judgement on a regular basis, could possibly come back to haunt us in May.

The Swansea Winner

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 08.25.39

As Klopp alluded to in his press conference after the game, it was a long ball that undone us. Liverpool failed to win the initial header then didn’t win the second ball and it dragged us out of shape. It was simple passes for Swansea as they went backwards to go forward and three pretty straightforward passes the result is what you see in the picture above.

Swansea have players, four of them, between the defensive line and the midfield line. It’s four vs three. Neither Lallana or Henderson are aware of who is behind them with both concentrating on the ball.

Kyle Naughton is able to play the ball forward to Leroy Fer who is making the most of the fact James Milner has gone to press the Swansea man on the left. Naughton delivers a pass to Fer under very little pressure.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 08.25.53

Fer is able to bring the ball down and draws both Lallana and Henderson towards him which just opens the game up centrally. Llorente is occupying both Liverpool centre-backs but neither are actually taking him out of the game. Clyne is having to keep tabs on Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Carroll, closest to the referee, is free to run at the Liverpool defence.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 08.26.09

Fer plays a pass to Llorente and the Spaniard is able to just hold off Klavan before knocking a ball back to the supporting Carroll who hasn’t been tracked. He dribbles into the area before Klavan gets a toe to it and inadvertently plays it to Sigurdsson who scores the winner.

It was a horror show; players switching off and not knowing who is behind them and nobody tracking runners. It’s all well and good saying this is what happens when a press goes wrong but the team weren’t even set-up properly to press. It was just a disjointed mess. What’s worrying though is it wasn’t just exclusive to the Swansea winner.

The Swansea Second

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 08.24.01

Swansea look to play on the break. In the picture there are five in white and six in red. Clyne is isolated on the right with Olsson but is showing him onto his weaker foot. Liverpool are in a position to deal with this so long as runners are tracked from midfield and the cross isn’t allowed to come in.

We do neither.

Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 17.16.23

Carroll’s clever overlapping run isn’t tracked, not well anyway, and he’s able to put in one of the crosses of the season on the half volley. The fact the former Spurs player went on the outside of Olsson is what created the space for him which allowed him to get the cross in. Then you look in the area and see with Lovren positioned near the front post that it’s three vs three towards the back post with the Swansea players able to get a running jump on the defenders and Llorente powers home.

Again it was the failure to track runners from midfield, coupled with the fact we aren’t the best when it comes to defending aerial balls in the area, which caused us the problems.

The Swansea Opener

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 08.23.18

Liverpool fail to win the initial header and aren’t switched on enough to win the second ball. It was a common theme against Swansea and it’s exactly what happened in the build up for their opener. Lovren vacates his position on the edge of the six yard area to lazily try to put the Swansea man under pressure. It fails. He’s able to head the ball down to one of three unmarked Swansea plays inside the six yard box and Routledge, who the ball falls to, rolls the ball back for Llorente to fire home. It’s worrying to think the away side had to win just one header for it to be a three vs one in the area.

It as an off day for the Reds but one that can’t be repeated if we have top four aspirations. We can’t be losing, not in such a simplistic manner, if we want Champions League football. The top six is as competitive as it been for a while. Two are going to be missing out and we can’t be one.

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