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Poor Defending Continues to Haunt Liverpool

Poor Defending Continues to Haunt Liverpool

Having enjoyed a good preseason with victories over Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao the serious stuff started on Saturday at Watford.

Given the way Liverpool took apart Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena, hopes were high the Reds would pick up a good win at Vicarage Road.  However, the news of Philippe Coutinho wanting to leave the club and then missing the game with a back injury did not help preparation on Friday.

Still, with new signing Mohamed Salah fit and in the starting XI plus the ever-improving Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, Liverpool had a starting XI capable of beating Watford.  The only obvious omission other than Coutinho was Adam Lallana in midfield and this left Liverpool with a lack of creativity in the central area of the team.

As was the case for much of last season, it wasn’t the creativity or attacking play which was lacking at Watford, it was the defence.

Twice Liverpool fell behind in the first half.

The opening goal for the home team came via a corner and not one player was picking up the giant figure of Stefano Okaka as the striker powered a header straight at Simon Mignolet from a few yards out and into the goal.

The equaliser for the Reds was excellent, a lovely move on the edge of the Watford penalty area which was finished off with confidence by Sadio Mane.  Liverpool were right back in the game. 

However, the teams were not level for long and Watford scored their second goal of the game just 3 minutes after Liverpool found the equaliser.  A low cross caused all sorts of problems in the Liverpool defence and as the ball ricocheted on the edge of the six-yard box, Abdoulaye Doucoure restored Watford’s lead.

Into the second half and a poor decision by Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes gifted Liverpool a penalty as he brought down the on-rushing Salah.  Roberto Firmino, who was quiet for most of the match, scored from the spot.

The Brazilian forward then turned provider as he lofted the ball over Gomes and into the path of Salah to score his first competitive goal for the club.  Liverpool then enjoyed a good period in the game and could have added at least one more goal.

Then, with the clock three minutes into added time, more poor defending from a Watford corner allowed Miguel Britos to score and level the game at 3-3, which was how it remained at the final whistle.

It’s difficult not to be very critical of what Liverpool produced in this match.  They were very poor defensively, conceding two goals from corners which should have been prevented.  In fact, all three of Watford’s goals could have been stopped by a decent bit of defending.

At the other end of the pitch Liverpool were better but had Watford to thank for their own errors at the back which led to two of the three goals.

A point away from home in the Premier League is never a dreadful result but it should have been more.  It appears Klopp and his team have not been working on defensive situations in preseason because nothing has changed.

One thing which has changed is the price of Virgil van Dijk and it has just gone up another £5 million following the Reds defensive display.  The question is, can one player come in and change the way Liverpool defend as a team? 

The Reds must regroup for midweek in Germany.  They must also start working on their defensive unit, especially from set-pieces if they are to compete at the top in the Premier League and Champions League this season.

The fact still remains that Liverpool’s owners and the manager Jurgen Klopp must realise that the squad is not good enough, the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Man United, invested in their first team, that shows that their priority is to win the league and to be competitive in the Champions league. Enough of the excuses, Liverpool as a club lacks ambition. Enough procrastinating, the club had enough time to bring in the right players, there are good players out there that would improve our first team and squad.