I hope you're all sitting down and have braced yourselves, because I come bearing the most shocking of news: Brendan Rodgers has acknowledged Liverpool need to work on defending opposition set pieces. I will give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor before continuing.
Set piece defending has become a rather painful bit of tragicomedy over the last few seasons. Without having the statistics handy, it would probably be fair to wager that Liverpool concede a higher than average number of goals from set pieces. Any goal conceded from set pieces is probably one too many, but for a club looking to challenge for a top four slot, it's a piece of the game that is critical to ensuring wins and maintaining a reasonable goal differential.
“It’s something that we need to address, for sure,” Rodgers finally admitted. “We have to be more aggressive and more switched on. It’s concentration. The goal at home to Crystal Palace was disappointing. That was a poor goal to give away, but thankfully it never cost us.
“Here [at St. James' Park], conceding from a set piece put us on the back foot. We were looking forward to the second half at 1-1, and suddenly we were behind. It’s something for us to work on, but in football there is always something to improve on. At this moment, that is an area for us to look at."
We talk a lot about Rodgers' growth as a manager over the last year and while perhaps it's taken him a teensy bit longer than we would have liked for him to come around to this particular point of view on what feels like a terribly obvious defensive frailty, at least we're all on the same page now. With Liverpool's schedule about to get more challenging than it's been at any point so far this season, the increased focus on plugging any defensive holes can't come soon enough.
"Since January, I think in terms of points gained, we are in the top three in the country," Rodgers continued. "Hopefully that is an indication that we’re doing well and that the club is in order. I still think there’s a hell of a lot of improvement for us to make, but in the main we’re a tight unit, and we just need to keep moving forward."