What a difference a week can make. On the fourth of December, Liverpool were nipping right at Chelsea’s heels and looked the most likely side to challenge the in-form Londoners for the league title this season. A week later, they’d lost to Bournemouth and drawn with West Ham and Chelsea had run six points ahead of them.
If Chelsea continue their current form, Liverpool need to win their next six games just to draw back within striking distance. It’s a difficult ask, but based on how Liverpool were playing before their recent stumble, it wouldn’t have seemed impossible. And defender Dejan Lovren is looking to the recent past for inspiration.
“Everybody is hungry to get back to the top,” the Croatian defender told Premier League Productions. “Everything went well and then we stumbled, but like the manager said, we can’t forget what we did before those games. We need to still keep playing our game and doing the same things but with just a little bit more.”
Many have looked to Philippe Coutinho’s absence as the key to the club’s recent stumbles, seeing as his injury has coincided with a downtick in form. Yet Liverpool have scored five goals in their last two games—slightly better than their season average of 2.47 goals per game—and still managed to drop five points.
Coutinho’s absence may leave the side looking slightly less fluid in the final third, but it isn’t stopping them from scoring. Instead, the problem has been at the other end, where a defence that had looked to be on the right track through November has collapsed, conceding six times and often looking bumbling and hapless.
Before December, and despite some grumbling about their defensive surety, Liverpool were only conceding 1.08 goals per game in league action. It wasn’t quite on par with the league’s best, but it was respectable. The six goals they conceded against Bournemouth and West Ham, on the other hand, were anything but.
So. A little bit more is certainly needed, as is a return to the form shown through most of the autumn. But despite the ongoing concerns about Philippe Coutinho’s absence through injury, it’s the defence and not the attack that needs to quickly figure out how to get themselves back on track.