Conceding Early: Hurting Us Later

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Analysing Liverpool’s Defensive Struggles This Season

An Unsteady Foundation

Well when you can’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo at one end, you could do with it working at the other. In the fabric of football, a common thread is woven with unwavering belief: a solid defence is the cornerstone of a title-winning team. This season, Liverpool FC’s tapestry has been frayed by defensive woes, a narrative that has unravelled across pitches with every soft goal conceded. Late winners have defined the narrative but they’re not their anymore.

Conceding Ground Early

The statistics paint a concerning picture for the Reds. Having played 32 league games, they found themselves trailing in 21 of these. A glaring testament to vulnerability at the back, Liverpool’s defence has been a shadow of its former impenetrable self. The centre-back partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate, once seeming invincible, has recently displayed cracks that opponents have not hesitated to exploit. Atalanta was outside of this and some will refer to United and Quansah starting, but Liverpool’s senior centre backs lead that defence and it concedes early so often.

A Battle of Attrition

Compounding the issue is the timing with which Liverpool concedes the first goal. A deeper look into the numbers reveals that aside from the fact we’ve conceded first on 21 out of 32 games, the majority of the occasions this comes before the 25th minute. The psychological toll of such early setbacks is monumental. It’s a hill to climb before the race has even begun, a narrative of catch-up that can exhaust even the most resilient of squads. How often can we go to the well and just how much does it take?

Statistical Siren Call

The latest skirmishes against Manchester United, Atalanta, and Crystal Palace have further highlighted the defensive fragility. Soft goals are like Achilles’ heels, they may seem small, but they bring giants to their knees. Liverpool’s backline has, at times, mirrored a fortress under siege, bravely repelling attacks but ultimately yielding to the relentless pressure. Endo plays a part in this and he’s looked well off the pace in recent games and it’s been easy to get right at Liverpool’s defence.

The Road Ahead

It’s not merely about the number of goals conceded; it’s the nature of them. Conceding first in over 64% of games this season isn’t just a pattern; it’s a clarion call for introspection and strategic overhaul. The Palace goal from Eze was a good team goal, yet Liverpool seem to be porous and easy to play through for some time. Which goal did you look at recently and think however much it hurt, you can’t stop those? While comebacks make for thrilling tales, they are not sustainable strategies for a title chase. The true essence of Liverpool’s challenge lies not in the absence of attacking prowess but in the lapses that require such firepower to compensate. For every comeback story that ends in victory, there are untold tales of what could have been if only the first line of defence had held firm. Robbo was honest in his assessments after Palace and whilst everyone latched onto his comments around the wastefulness of the forwards, he also referenced conceding first which shouldn’t be ignored. If anything is going to be salvaged from the season, this will be just as important.

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