Liverpool’s Disastrous Defence Threatens To Derail Their Season

“I was living in a state of perpetual deja vu. Everywhere I went, I felt I'd already been there. It was like following an invisible man”

-Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Life as a Liverpool fan mirrors that of Edward Norton’s character in the 1999 cult classic Fight Club. You regularly take a beating — albeit emotionally instead of physically; you’re angry and there’s a hint of self-loathing thrown in there for good measure

The disappointment that fans of the Merseyside club are feeling today is no doubt familiar. The 2-2 draw at home to Bournemouth is the latest in a long line of missed opportunities for the Reds.

It’s a result which now takes Champions League qualification out of their own hands and places it firmly in the grasp of their rivals. Liverpool sit in third position with 60 points, Manchester City are fourth on 58 with a game in hand, while Arsenal and Manchester United are both on 54 points with two games in hand on Jürgen Klopp’s men.

There's now blood in the water; Liverpool's depleted team appears to be tiring and their rivals sense the opportunity to go for the kill.

It may be better to have points on the board at this stage of the season but the fact the team no longer controls its own destiny points towards failure on their part. All the hard work from earlier in the campaign now counts for very little. Liverpool would win all of their remaining seven matches and still fall short of a place in Europe’s elite competition.

For over 25 years now, supporters have flocked to Anfield with hearts filled with hope. Yet every single season sees a new false dawn and, come May, fans are wondering why they thought this year would be different. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. If you’re fooled 26 times, though, whose fault is it?

Progress has no doubt been made under the former Borussia Dortmund manager this term, but the ghosts of yesteryear are once again re-emerging to haunt the team. The defensive frailties are once again undoing all of the side's attacking promise.

Groundhog Day

Liverpool aren't defensively stable and haven't been since the days of Rafael Benítez. The two soft goals conceded against Bournemouth means Klopp's men are on course to concede 48 for the season. An improvement on last year's 50 but nowhere near good enough for a team wanting a top four finish.

Liverpool have tried to build on crumbling foundations and because of this they're now suffering. The Reds'system needed the perfect storm to be effective. Earlier on in the campaign they had Joël Matip, Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson all fit and all firing.

The full-backs would offer the width and support the attack while Henderson would slot in between the centre-backs when needed. The captain would use his energy to put fires out all over the defensive third.

But as shown over recent months, all three are susceptible to injuries and without the trio, the balance of the team suffers. There's no familiarity at the heart of the side because of the constant change.

Furthermore, the Reds missed the opportunity in both the summer and the winter windows to bring in like-for-like cover.

Emre Can has bossed it in midfield since the Henderson's latest setback but he doesn't offer the same defensive energy, so the centre-backs are a little more exposed. Likewise, Divock Origi is undoubtedly talented but the dynamic of the Liverpool attack changes when he is forced to come in and replace Sadio Mané.

The draw with Bournemouth at Anfield was the seventh time this season that the Reds have failed to convert a lead into all three points. Four of those matches have been against teams in the bottom half of the table.

Klopp's charges forfeited 1-0 leads to rivals Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City. In the grand scheme of things, three points from three tough away games is admirable, but at the same time, it's got to be looked at as three missed chances to take maximum points off the competition.

However, the real problems have come against the mid-table/bottom-half teams.

West Ham United made the trip up north in December and went behind in the fifth minute to an Adam Lallana strike. It looked as though the home side would kick on and send a message to the rest of the league, as they did in victories over Leicester City, Hull City and Watford.

But the Hammers hit back and turned it around to lead 2-1 before a Divock Origi goal salvaged a point.

Bottom of the table Sunderland came from behind twice at the Stadium of Light to snatch a point against Klopp and his team.

The Merseysiders went 2-0 and 3-1 up away to Bournemouth yet walked away from The Vitality Stadium empty handed. The home side took full advantage of a brittle Liverpool backline.

Liverpool's Disastrous Defence Threatens To Derail Their Season

It was a similar story at Anfield: the Reds overturned a 1-0 deficit to head into the final 10 minutes of the match with a 2-1 lead. All they had to do was see the game out for an all-important three points, but Joshua King capitalised on some poor Ragnar Klavan defending to fire home.

There was a sense of inevitability after Klopp switched to a 3-5-2 formation. Fans had seen this movie before and there was no escaping the outcome.

These are all matches that teams with Champions League aspirations see out for maximum points.

It's a story fans of the Merseyside club have read a number of times over recent years.


The 2013/14 season ended in disappointment after their title challenge fell at the final hurdle. Their defensive performances, which saw them concede 50, weren't sustainable. In the six draws that campaign, Brendan Rodgers' side scored 13 goals. Had they had a better defence then 13 goals is more than enough for maximum points in six matches.

The 2014/15 campaign was plagued by defensive horror shows. Embarrassed in the Champions League and humbled at the hands of Stoke City in a 6-1 defeat.

, Sunderland and Newcastle United all trailed at Anfield, yet ended up walking away with a point each. The Europa League final featured a defensive capitulation after going 1-0 up as well. 

Liverpool are like a boxer with no defence. If they land their blows they look formidable but if that fails they look exposed. One good shot from the opposition and the Reds are using the ropes to prop themselves up. They can't offer up a defence because, well, they can't rely on it.

Surely the powers that be at the club can't allow past mistakes to again be repeated? It's now reached the stage where a new defender isn't a luxury, it's a necessity if Klopp wants to take the club forward.

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