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Mark Hughes: Liverpool Aren’t That Bad at Defending

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The Stoke City boss must have missed Liverpool attempting to defend away from home.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The Narrative. You know it. I know it. And as soon as Willian’s shot (?) beat Simon Mignolet, thereby ensuring that the Reds conceded a second late equalizer in as many games, you know The Narrative would be back.

Liverpool can’t defend. They can’t see out narrow victories. They needed to bring in defensive reinforcements this summer. They need defensive reinforcements in January. So on and so forth.

However, Stoke City manager Mark Hughes sees the situation with a great deal more nuance than the football talking heads.

“People are trying to claim they are ok going forward, but every time you attack they concede…but that’s not the case,” Mark Hughes said in the pre-match press conference.

“The way they are asked to play with high tempo, at times their defenders are going to be exposed in one-v-one situations. Some people will interpret that as poor defending.

“Set plays are maybe something they haven’t dealt with as well as they want to and maybe they are concerned about our threat.

“But on the night it’s about our performance and making sure they don’t perform to their potential.”

Hughes is right to not fully buy-in to the media narrative. However, Liverpool have yet to prove that they can defend away from home. In the league the Reds have only conceded 2 goals in 7 matches within the safe confines of Anfield. Away? They’ve conceded 16 in 6 matches, and have yet to keep a single clean sheet. Indeed, the only away clean sheet in any competition so far this season was the 7-0 drubbing at Maribor.

The news isn’t all bad though, even for the rainy, cold, midweek game on the road against Stoke. (I haven’t checked the weather forecast, I’ve only assumed as much). Offensively, Liverpool have been more than “OK” regardless of whether they’ve been home or away. Only Manchester City has kept a clean sheet when Liverpool came to town. Add to the fact that Firmino and Mane got (more or less) a full game’s rest at the weekend, and the attack should be humming.

Let’s just not concede another late equalizer, OK?