Liverpool Football Club have now conceded five goals in their first two matches of the new season. Last week, a mesmerizing spell of attacking football allowed Jürgen Klopp’s men to put enough distance between themselves and Arsenal such that letting three into the net still allowed the visitors to escape with all three points. This weekend, despite a death grip on possession of the ball, Liverpool allowed Burnley to score twice in almost as many shots on goal, and never quite threatened to recover against an organized rearguard.
After getting off to an impressively stingy start to their preseason matches, there was hope that new arrivals in central defense and serious competition at the goalkeeper position would put an end to Liverpool’s occasionally alarming defensive frailty. Those concerns are now back at the forefront in the early stages of the Premier League campaign. For all the attacking firepower Liverpool may be able to muster on a regular basis, they are clearly not always going to put three or four past the opposition keeper after going behind, and circumstances at the Emirates last week are more likely to be the exception than the rule.
In the wake of the dispiriting defeat at Burnley, longtime Liverpool defender and current television pundit Jamie Carragher has questioned whether Liverpool have done enough this summer to address those defensive concerns. Despite the additions of Joël Matip and Ragnar Klavan in the middle, and the emergence of James Milner as an alternative to Alberto Moreno at left back, Carragher clearly feels the options available are not necessarily ideal and that the club have prioritized big money acquisitions farther up the pitch:
“It still looks like they are lacking defensively and even in the holding midfield position.
Jordan Henderson is not a defensive midfield player and Emre Can is the only one in the squad that does play there because it looks like Lucas is surplus to requirements.
“You can talk about left-back as well because James Milner played there at Burnley. They are still short. Whether they go into the market again with the Benteke money between now and August 31 remains to be seen.”
It’s true that, purely from a quantitative perspective, Liverpool have spent the better part of their cash on their midfield and attacking options (unless you’re inclined to view Wijnaldum as a defensive specialist, which seems like a stretch). What’s less clear, setting aside the question of whether or not Klopp agrees help is needed, is if there are realistic options available on the market who would significantly alter Liverpool’s defensive picture and who would conceivably want to join the club.
Phrases like “the Benteke money” fuel the speculation and expectation that the club will splurge on a recognizable name, despite the fact that the manager hasn’t shown much of an inclination to do so. If Emre Can, Marko Grujic or Kevin Stewart can provide solidity against Spurs next weekend, and the team as a whole puts in a good performance, some of the murmurings may subside. In the interim, however, ten days remain in the transfer window for Liverpool, which is plenty of time for supporters to whip themselves into a frenzy over rumors, or to ignite in indignation over the lack thereof.