Whether or not Philippe Coutinho stays at Liverpool to run the club’s attack, there remains a monstrous question mark over the team’s ability to defend. First at Watford for the opening Premier League match and then in Germany for Liverpool’s Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim, cracks are all too apparent in the Red’s back line. Caveats exist to explain away what you will about the current defensive picture: Trent Alexander-Arnold is young and doesn’t have the experience of Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno basically sat on the bench for a season and is now suddenly playing ahead of Milner, the midfield is all out of whack and therefore not properly shielding the center backs, etc. But the ugly reality is that this reality is nothing new.
Corners or damn near any set piece seems almost a gifted opportunity for the opposition to score. But defending during open play certainly provides it’s share of oopsies, as well. Runners don’t get tracked. Loose balls are not properly cleared out of the penalty box. Dejan Lovren mistimes a tackle, sliding into nothing and by doing so completely taking himself out of the game.
As the man between the sticks, Simon Mignolet gets a fantastic view of these blunders while opposing teams continue apace, bearing down on his goal. Of course, our Belgian goalie is no stranger to head-scratchers himself, but he’s kept the team in a game on a fair few occasions with his exceptional shot-stopping ability. At the end of the day defensive stability must come from the manager and the training ground. The team must defend together.
Now we’ve heard plenty about the work going on in training to eradicate these errors in the past, so let’s do ourselves a favor and hear it some more.
Mignolet begins with the attacking prowess of the team and does a decent job of staying positive as a pear.
“We can only play one way and that is forward,” Simon said.
“We know that we can always score. We have so much style up front.
“We have so much talent in the squad that we have to use it. We have the qualities and our natural game will be attacking.
“But we know we have to fill that in with a really defensive spirit. We know that is where we have to improve.
“We are not blind. Everybody knows it in the dressing room, but there is no point throwing everything away.
“A natural footballing side that goes forward, you cannot change that, but we know we have to mix that in with a good defensive, aggressive spirit to make sure they don’t score the goals.”
And where dost this defensive, aggressive spirit come from? With Virgil van Dijk looking less and less likely to sign for Liverpool in the near future, we know not. For now, we can only brace ourselves against another visit of the defensive spirit of Liverpool’s recent past. Humbug.