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    Why is Liverpool's priority always attack over defence?



    Liverpool's unsurprising Groundhog day style defeat to Leicester will have inevitably brought up the typical question of "why do Liverpool struggle against teams battling relegation", a question Klopp sniggered at during the post-match press conference, presumably because he saw that question coming.

    The style of the question may be simplistic and cliche, but the alternative isn't even to ask "why do Liverpool struggle against defensive counter-attacking teams" considering Leicester implemented a different game plan to the likes of Burnley, Hull and Swansea when they faced Liverpool. Granted, Leicester had their 2nd lowest possession stats of the season in that game, but they took it to Liverpool in the opening stages rather than sit back and try and pick them off.

    The question should be, similarly to the criticisms leveled at Brendan Rodgers during his Anfield stint, why the unhealthy obsession with playing a style of football that is far too open? Why is there almost an arrogance to thinking somehow your team won't get punished if they leave huge spaces behind the defence for Vardy to run into, or big space between the centre backs and full backs? Look at the picture above and compare the difference between Leicester and Liverpool's back 4 - one is very tight, narrow and close together, and the other one is Liverpool's.

    Every team in the league has figured out against Leicester that you don't give massive spaces behind and between your defence for Vardy to run into. You don't concede endless throw ins down Fuchs' side, and if you do then the second ball is perhaps even more important than the first. You don't leave Mahrez in a one on one situation with your left back, and you show him out onto his right foot. You don't turn a game against Leicester into a chaotic energetic midfield battle where one intercepted ball can be immediately punted long. You don't give their goalkeeper the chance to freely pick out a long ball over the top. You don't hoof and lump in endless crosses towards Huth and Morgan especially if you have someone with electric pace like Sadio Mane who can punish them and make them look average. Yet Liverpool fell into every single one of those traps.

    In fairness, Klopp's comments of "it was almost as if we didn't speak about the strength of Leicester" speaks volumes. Perhaps the players were forewarned, but in the last few years their autopilot mode isn't to focus on a defensive outlook. They clearly don't possess the nous and hours and hours of match practice in keeping a defence tight and narrow, few gaps between and behind the defence, sitting deep against pacy counter attacking forwards and anticipating long balls. Liverpool this season attempted to do this on 3 occasions - away to Chelsea and Man Utd, and at home to Man City. Although it can be argued it somewhat worked, you couldn't help but feel they were doing a shaky impression of a team that knows how to defend and frustrate, rather than actually be a team that has a reputation in being well versed in playing that way if necessary.

    Liverpool even lack the ability to make a defensive substitution and seriously try and protect a lead. Some may say it's a risky strategy to protect a 1 or 2 goal lead in a tricky game, but the truth is the risk is minimized by a huge amount if you're actually good enough defensively to close out a game. Liverpool's most serious title challenge in 08/09 saw them concede just 27 goals, and if people think Rafa Benitez' style compromised attack, then they should be informed Liverpool were also the highest scorers in the league by a distance.

    A team that defends well, no matter how good or bad that team is, will always stand a chance to win almost any game of football. It's time Liverpool prioritized this method of approaching football.
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    Item Reviewed: Why is Liverpool's priority always attack over defence? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ahmed Hosny
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