A lot of the frustration with the loss against Burnley last weekend came from the fact that it was familiar. The same problems we’d seen time and again, and almost always against a smaller side. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by some of the players, as vice captain James Milner can attest to.
“We struggled against teams who packed their defense, didn’t really want to play against us and just hit us on the break. That has been the same in the first three games,” Milner said, following the match yesterday against Tottenham. “It is something we can learn from. We need to learn about breaking teams down who want to sit back and not come out at us.”
It’s a struggle we’ve all seen time and again, teams that pack the box with their defenses and effectively shut down Liverpool’s movement. We saw it against Burnley last weekend, and against countless other teams last season. To succeed where the club didn’t last season is to overcome those obstacles though, and Milner is all too aware.
“I don’t see why this squad can’t get in the top four. We have shown over the last year that we can beat anyone. But it is about doing it against teams who aren’t going to play against us. We need to improve that and be more ruthless in front of goal,” He added. “People will point at the Burnley game but it was a good performance. It was not like it was 50-50. We dominated the game. We got in good areas time and time again but didn’t pick the right pass at the right time or put the ball in the net.
“I like what I see from the first three games but we need to make sure that we keep improving and get the results.”
Perhaps that is what’s most frustrating about losses like Burnley and draws like Tottenham, as supporters. It’s easy to point out places to improve and see what needs to be done, so there’s an amount of relief when a player is open about it as well. While Milner put in a great shift at left-back yesterday, there’s still spaces across the pitch that could use improving as well - his own position not withstanding. With the international break ahead, there will just be a little bit more waiting before seeing the benefits of that work.