Liverpool sit top of the Premier League table two points clear with just four more rounds of games remaining this season.
The Reds have been flying high this term under Brendan Rodgers and now find themselves with the title in their sights – if Liverpool win their remaining four games, then they will win their first ever Premier League crown and their first league title for 24 years since the 1989/90 First Division season.
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, as well as captain Steven Gerrard have taken all the plaudits this campaign with their superb performances from an attacking perspective, but the Merseyside outfit have also come in for criticism at times for their defensive frailties at the back, despite as a team having made more tackles than any of the other 19 sides in the league.
The Reds have made in total 757 tackles so far, which averages 22.3 per game so far – just bellow them are Crystal Palace, Southampton, Stoke, Aston Villa and then Manchester City.
Liverpool have conceded 42 goals so far this term, which is more than any of the other clubs in the top five. However, they have managed to score more goals than any other team, with a current tally of 93 goals, resulting in a goal difference of 51, which is second only to City.
John Flanagan alone has made 65 tackles (3.4 per game), Lucas Leiva has made 77 (3.3 per game), Gerrard has made 82 (2.7 per game), Joe Allen has made 50 (2.5 per game), Glen Johnson has made 61 (2.4 per game), Jordan Henderson has made 81 (2.4 per game) and Philippe Coutinho has made 66 (2.3 per game).
Those seven players have made the most out of the team but not one of them is a centre-back – Daniel Agger has averaged 1.5 tackles per game and Martin Skrtel 1.3 per match.
The system in which Rodgers has his team operate relies upon tackles coming further up field, predominantly in midfield – the full-backs have generally made tackles in wide central areas of the pitch – cutting out and diffusing dangerous situations before they reach last-ditch defending from the centre-backs. However, the number of goals they have conceded does still raise some questions about whether the players are defending successfully as a unit.
Due to the huge threat the Reds have up front, this has not been as much of an issue as it might have been otherwise, but next season, especially in the Champions League, they must try to balance their desire to go forward and attack with more awareness of the space they leave in behind.
Liverpool’s setup under Rodgers is based around possession retention, but they must work on what the instruction is and who is responsible when they lose it.