“I’d rule them out of winning the title this season…”
I’ve written several articles about Klopp since Sofa Sports News began. Liverpool have had a magnificent start to the campaign, particularly considering the relative difficulty of their early fixtures including trips to the Emirates Stadium, White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge. Coming off a great win at Everton, and despite picking them in my pre-season top 4, I’ll rule them out winning the league title this year.
I often hear “If they can sort the defence out…..” Yet it’s not just the defence. How many clubs win a title without a top class keeper? How many are there available in January? Don’t get me wrong their fluid, fast-paced and incisive attacking play has been sensational at times, with few sides in Europe likely to be able to cope with them when they’re in full flow.
But nevertheless they still tend to find themselves under pressure in key periods of games even when dominating. Liverpool have taken apart a number of teams so far, including Hull, Leicester and, in a tremendous 20-minute spell after the interval on the opening weekend, Arsenal.
I appreciate that the defensive frailties haven’t necessarily cost the Reds dearly in terms of points, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that it could ultimately undermine their bid for the title; while an element of chaos has helped them to blow opponents away in the final third, there’s a chance that the same force will prove costly at the other end of the pitch.
Every time you watch them, you know there is always the potential for a period of meltdown defensively. I’d love to know whether Klopp has deliberately set up his side in this way as a means to counter the issue. When a team is perceived to have problems in defence, the traditional solution is to offer greater protection in midfield, position the backline closer to its own goal and ensure there are never too many bodies thrown forward in attack. Rather than shutting a game down and tightening up when they’re ahead, they continue to play an open and expansive brand of football- “have a cheap goal on us, we’ll score more than you”. I respect that philosophy, but not if I were a fan of the Reds.
I was looking at the possession statistics in the Premier League. The reds are second to Manchester City, the only two teams to break the 60% mark. Any guess on 3rd place? Spurs. League leaders Chelsea just about make the top 6. The success of their pressing and then quickly counter attacking has given them a different look to last year, where we saw more ball possession in the safer midfield areas.
Currently Liverpool are winning on the Passes and Goals front. However, when it comes to Clean sheets, they only score higher than Arsenal out of the “Big 6”. And the most valuable commodity for title challengers?
Now in the last 10 seasons the team with the highest number of goals scored has won the league on seven occasions, while the side with the fewest conceded has only triumphed four times. History would suggest that wining the clean sheet battle isn’t a MUST to win the title, but you WONT win it having the same amount as the likes of Middlesbrough and Bournemouth as per current stats show.