Liverpool Suffer Familiar Frailties

Liverpool were seemingly cruising away to Sevilla last night at half-time but familiar defensive woes surfaced once more and they surrendered a 3-goal lead to draw 3-3 away in Spain.

It was an electric first half of football that saw goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane give Liverpool a 3-goal lead at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan – a stadium where the home side Sevilla had not lost a match in over 12 months.

It seemed like a continuation of the team’s recent good displays that had resulted in a 13-1 aggregate scoreline in their last four games, but as former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson said “If anyone should know it’s never over when you’re 3-0 up, it’s Liverpool”.

The result in Spain is not by any means a disaster. All Liverpool need to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League is a point against Spartak Moscow in the last round of group games. What would be of utmost concern to Jurgen Klopp as they prepare to face Chelsea this weekend and Everton in the Merseyside Derby is the return of their well-documented defensive frailties that have beleaguered his team.

Alberto Moreno has earned praise, and his starting place in the team, this season after showing significant improvements in his game so far but it was a torrid night for him on a return to his boyhood club. Wissam Ben Yedder was unfortunate to not score early on after a Moreno error on the left but a needless foul from the Spanish left back was what led to Ben Yedder heading beyond Lorius Karius from an Ever Banega free kick.

Moreno was nervous again as he failed to properly control a Coutinho pass in the Liverpool box and his subsequent trip on Ben Yedder led to the penalty for the second goal. Moreno was obviously getting the runaround from Franco Vazquez and was replaced by James Milner in the 63rd minute.

Klopp’s Liverpool shabby defensive record with set-pieces was again brought to the fore as they conceded a late equaliser for the third time in Europe this season. Quite worryingly, only RB Leipzig and Qarabag have conceded more goals from set-pieces than Liverpool – a trend that has been their Achilles heel since Klopp took over.

Jordan Henderson was unsure of his movements for the corner kick and after Ragnar Klavan’s mistimed header fell to Guido Pizzaro, he did not miss from 12 yards.

“In the second half we stopped playing football and were passive,” he said afterwards. Indeed, the stats showed Liverpool’s passing accuracy dropped to just 59 per cent in the second half as the players struggled to keep their cool. “We opened the door for them and didn’t close it in the last minutes,” added Klopp.

Klopp’s Liverpool side lost 18points from winning positions in the league last season and have the third worst defensive record from set-pieces in both the Premier League and the Champions League. There still is no clear evidence of improvements in defensive areas and as such there is alot to ponder about. After all the progress of the last couple of weeks – albeit shortlived – they must now pick themselves back up.