Midfielders in Defence: For how much longer?
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As Liverpool suffered yet another calamitous defeat, the repetitive thought was how much longer could Liverpool afford to deploy this make-shift back line?
When Milner was touted to be the first choice left-back in August, there was a mixture of amazement and worry at the decision. His initial performances seemed to be meeting the need of the hour, though he was consistently beaten down his side.
But as the games passed, teams were more than happy to let Milner have the ball, considering the fact that his deliveries from the left are abysmally poor. With Milner and Coutinho playing on the same side of the pitch, Liverpool suffered a lack of natural width due to both players preferring to cut in onto their stronger right foot. This led to a compression of play in an already congested central area of the pitch. Teams have been more than happy to defend the width of their own box and have conveniently snuffed out any threats.
On the defensive side, each passing game is an examination of his abilities to handle outright pace and it is quite clear teams have preferred to attack his side of the pitch. Maybe the novelty has worn off indeed.
Lucas Leiva has transformed into a backup centre-back this season, and performances on a large scale seem to indicate that this role doesn’t seem to suit him. Klopp has preferred to use him as a progressive centre-back who is a useful passing option from the back. What we have come to experience is something most fans were expecting; he gets exposed brutally on swift counter-attacks. Every single striker has preferred to attack the side on which Lucas has been stationed. He had a great game against Spurs, bu,t such a performance seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Lack of positional competence coupled with limited pace, means this might indeed be his last season at Liverpool.
So where does this leave us?
Joe Gomez has had a couple of opportunities in the cup games, but if he is indeed the long-term option, as it’s being touted, then this is the time to play him; it definitely cannot get worse. He would make mistakes, but that is something we need to absorb and move on from like we do when Lucas plays.
Moreno has been a player who divides opinion aplenty amongst the fan base, but attributes we are missing are width and direct play. Above all, though, what he provides is a degree of unpredictability, a complete contrast to Milner.
We have seen what Milner can provide, maybe if Moreno can shore up his defensive frailties to a certain degree then it might be his time in the spotlight. He had a solid cameo against Leicester tonight as a wing-back; a position which might suit him in the future.
Liverpool is at a stage where changes need to be made to wake them up from this stupor. Maybe playing defenders in defence might be the first step.