Liverpool have conceded too many goals in 2017. More than that, they’ve conceded too many that have had far less to do with the opposition’s skill and more to do with their own lapses. Individual errors piled one on top of another ending up in the back of the net.
For manager Jürgen Klopp, it’s one of the problems he knows needs to be addressed. Despite that—and despite that many fans would point to it as the club’s biggest issue at the moment—Klopp doesn’t believe it’s the key to Liverpool’s recent struggles.
“The goals we have conceded in 2017 have been a little bit of the same story,” noted the Liverpool manager. “The influence of throw-ins is a little bit too big on the goals we concede. It’s not that teams create a lot of chances against us. That’s still a good sign.
“A few weeks ago, everybody spoke about the goalkeeper. That has absolutely no influence on the goals we’re conceding at the moment. We can’t say it’s only the centre-half. Very often, the last mistake happens in this region, but that would be too easy.”
The bigger problem, as Klopp sees it, is that his side has not fully embraced their role as one of the league’s top sides this season. It’s a role that has increasingly seen their opponents pack in, deep and defensive, challenging Liverpool to break them down.
In response, Liverpool have stumbled after a strong start. Their movement slows down when they aren’t given space to break into. Players become frustrated when five and ten and fifteen minutes pass and they still haven’t found a way to unlock a stubborn defence.
“We spoke about this and a few other things,” Klopp noted, digging into what he sees as a bigger issue for this side than its fondness for defensive lapses. “We are Liverpool, and a really good football-playing side, and we don’t enjoy the job we have to do.
“If you are another team at the bottom of the league, then we have to defend 80 to 90 per cent of the time, and 10 per cent you can invest in counter-attacks and sometimes a set-piece, and all that stuff. In our job, in 70 to 80 per cent of all games, we are dominant.
“So we have to enjoy this, even when we don’t come through after five minutes. That’s how it is. That’s the job to do. They concentrate even then on defensive situations. It was a football meeting with a few other parts of the game.”