Set-pieces have become a problem for Liverpool under Rodgers…
There has been much talk about Liverpool defending set-pieces, particularly in the way they conceded to Newcastle courtesy of Paul Dummett on Saturday lunchtime. It hasn’t been the first example of frailties from those situations under Brendan Rodgers. Last season, Everton punished Liverpool indirectly from a set-piece (and perhaps should have been given a goal at Anfield from a set-piece as well).
They weren’t the only side. Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City in the League Cup and Manchester United all benefited from those frailties last season, there are probably more!
The root cause is failure to deal with the ball into the area – whether it’s not picking up the run from a man, just general hesitancy or not clearing the ball well enough from the Liverpool penalty area.
To me it looked as if Rodgers tried to deal with certain aspects of the frailties that were evident last season by bringing in defenders who are fairly powerful and look as though they can do well in the air – in the likes of Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho. For a start it should mean Liverpool are winning more aerial duels as a result but it doesn’t account for hesitancy that we saw during the Newcastle encounter.
This season: Notts County, Southampton, Manchester United and Crystal Palace all benefited before Newcastle this campaign.
So it indicates that it is not down to the personnel but more down to how Rodgers sets up at the back. Liverpool seem to be going for a man-to-man, instead of a more zonal system which has been used across the continent, and also previously under Rafa Benitez where you can’t actually ‘lose the man,’ but more about clearing the zone.
There is also the aspect that Liverpool sometimes leave a man on the halfway line. Although this may lead to counter-attacks if the defence clears the ball adequately, but having the extra man there could at least help clear any immediate danger.
What is for sure though is that Brendan Rodgers needs to think of something, and work on it to eradicate a glaring weakness. It could be the difference between Liverpool achieving what they want in a top four finish come May, and not.
image: © Bernard C