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13 Jan 2021 09:23:02
The talk has all been about whether we'll sign a centre half in January. It doesn't appear that we will, but actually if you think about it, it's not really been the problem position or the underlying cause of the recent dropped points. If we consider that this "slump", as some people would describe it, includes Southampton away (lost), Newcastle away (draw) and West Brom home (draw), and maybe goes back as far as Fulham and Brighton (both away draws), then look at the analysis of those matches.

Four goals conceded in those five matches and not more than one goal conceded in any one match.

In the same matches, we have scored only three goals in five matches, and have not managed more than one goal in any of those matches.

v Southampton: 63% possession - no goals scored
v Newcastle: 73% possession - no goals scored
v West Brom: 78% possession - 1 goal scored
v Brighton: 60% possession - 1 goal scored
v Fulham: 75% possession - 1 goal scored

So across those five matches we have averaged 70% possession but only managed to score three goals in 450 minutes of football. The slight anomaly is that we have hammered Wolves 4-0 and Palace 7-0 in this same period, as well as the narrow home win over Tottenham, but I think the route back to the top of the table for us is for our front three to get back to their best, rather than addressing any major problems at the back. I don't think anybody would dispute that having to use Fabinho and now Henderson in the back four does have an impact in the midfield, but arguably it would impact the defensive solidity of our midfield rather than the attacking options in midfield. Anyway, with Thiago getting up and running now and looking, at times, absolutely out of this world, and also Shaqiri and Ox available to provide different options, and hopefully Minamino to step up, I think we can get back on track. Mane, Salah and Firmino have all had quieter periods at times during the last three years but they always come through. Even if one of them gets back to top level soon, the goals will start to fly in again.

Agree6 Disagree0

13 Jan 2021 09:47:38
RR I think the problem is the positions the front 3 are receiving the ball in. If the opposition are able to get through the midfield then we win the ball back on the half way line or in our own half then we then have more players between us and the goal. The front three are then receiving the ball with lots of players around them.
With Hendo (one of the best in the league for anticipation and breaking up play high) and Fabinho (the best deep lying midfielder in the league) in midfield it allows us to win the ball higher as the opposition are running out thus getting the ball to the front 3 earlier in the transition therefore giving them more time and space.
It’s why players like Keita, Jones and Ox are difficult to incorporate into our midfield as they are ball carriers so hold onto the ball longer allowing the opposition to regroup.
Subtle differences but make a huge difference.

13 Jan 2021 10:04:31
That's a really specific analysis, Beckers pecker, but I think it's a really good point. When you think of us at our most devastating, you think of the ball getting out to Salah or Mane quickly and early before the opposition can set up their nine or ten players behind the ball. Salah or Mane then take on their man, or put Trent or Robbo through on the flank.

Whereas if you think about our recent matches, you're right, we're getting the ball with the centre backs or in the centre circle and moving it about very nicely but the opposition are then set and we struggle to break through.

That said, and either way, when we're having 70% possession in every match, I do think we'd be finding a way to score goals if our attacking players were at their sharpest. It's understandable that they're not at their peak all of the time and I think they'll get it back soon.

If Matip is fit on Sunday, Henderson will be back in midfield, presumably alongside Thiago and Wijnaldum but I do think Shaqiri could have something to offer in the next part of the season.

13 Jan 2021 10:11:54
Possession doesn’t win football matches and we’ve proven that over the last few weeks. Totally understand the point you are trying to make but if addressing problems at the back isn’t an issue that means we could easily sell Vvd in the summer to raise funds as we are happy with the defence and cover without him currently and moving forward. Mane and Salah are going through a dry spell compared to what we are used to and Bobby is just bobby. We still need goals from midfield and defence chipping in as well as we look toothless if opposition double up on Salah and Mane hence why we aren’t scoring as many recently.

13 Jan 2021 10:40:45
RR, got to agree with Beckers Pecker here.

Its the displacement of positions which lies behind our recent troubles.

Hendo and Fab are 2/ 3 of our best midfield (probably with either Gini or Thiago depending on the opposition), so by taking them out, our balance is thrown.

Also, without the confidence of VVD and Gomez in the middle, I'm sure Trent and Robbo have been affected a bit, which is also going to affect service to our front 3.

All of these changes may not affect our possession (as shown by your stats) but they sure as hell affect our directness and effectiveness.

I'm pretty disappointed that we may not have some solution for our CB position in Jan, whether a loan or a freebie. I hope it doesn't affect the outcome of our season.

13 Jan 2021 10:58:35
Not needing to sign a centre-half in January to give us cover until van Dijk and Gomez return is a completely different statement to saying that we can sell van Dijk because we're happy with our back four. Not sure I understand where you're going with that JK.

Point is, people are talking about signing a centre-half in January as if the position is our big problem and the reason why we've dropped points lately. If we were scoring two or three every match and then dropping points because we were giving away two or three goals at the other end, then you could say we have a problem at the back. But the problem in those four draws against bottom half teams, and the defeat at Southampton was that we couldn't create and score goals, despite having the ball in our possession for 70% of the match.

To Boris peckers' point, maybe the absence of Fabinho and Henderson from the midfield areas does have an impact on how quickly and how high up the field we win back possession, which in turn influences how we attack the opposition, so in that sense you could perhaps make the case that signing a centre-back would allow one of both of them to return to midfield but, generally speaking, I don't see much evidence that our defence is our problem right now.

13 Jan 2021 11:00:10
Agreed, Zeddicus. I think it's a great point that Beckers pecker has made.

13 Jan 2021 11:15:55
It’s a good point that it’s not the defence that’s lost out, it’s the balance, and the fact that losing Fabinho from the base of midfield means
1) we aren’t quite as efficient at breaking up play earlier (he’s our best tackler)
2) we don’t have anyone able to strike the ball from distance when it drops back to him
3) he’s one of the best passers from the base of midfield (although Thiago is even better)
4) most importantly, his defensive skills mean Hendo and Gini and the fullbacks can get more aggressively forward

With all the challenges in scoring goals given the current setup, and the incredibly unfortunately loss of Jota who made such a difference in the first few games, I’m surprised we haven’t used the 4-2-3-1 more often and played 4 forwards against the lower half teams, Minamino is excellent in the tight spaces and could really have helped us unlock those packed defenses.

13 Jan 2021 11:33:58
You can't remove two such influential figures as Gomez and VVD from the centre of defence without it affecting the functioning of the whole team. Those two did not just operate in the centre of our defence they influenced play well beyond that. When they are replaced with players who are nowhere near as proficient in defence it is bound to affect the way we play and the confidence of the rest of the team.

13 Jan 2021 11:48:07
Becker’s pecker has hit the nail on the head!
And I’ve been saying this wks we’ve deconstructed one of the best mids in the league to patch up a defence! We’ve been lucky fab’s has been solid and done well! But him and hendo are our best mids and them missing has a domino effect!
I think we should of signed a cb soon as dejan left going into the league with 2.5 senior cbs was madness!
Gomez and vvd has suffered bad bad injuries and might nvr be right again (hope I’m wrong) so that’s even more reason to sign a cb or 2! Get fab and hendo back in mid and I think the machine starts to roll again!

{Ed025's Note - its hard to argue with that jay mate..

13 Jan 2021 11:52:18
Rr sorry mate. The point I was trying to make was Klopp was looking for a centre half in the summer. Way before Vvd and Gomez were injured and before we knew what injuries Matip would have this season. To still not address them now or say there isn’t a problem there tells me that we are happy with the options we have currently. When it’s evidently clear that Klopp wasn’t happy in the summer when all were fit. Not trying to be argumentative just giving my opinion mate.

13 Jan 2021 12:01:47
Just in the interest of a bit of balance, in those five matches (the four draws and the defeat at Southampton), Henderson played in midfield in all of them apart from the Southampton match. Different story with Fabinho, of course, and I think the general point made by Beckers is a really good one.

But I think we're putting our head in the sand a bit if we say that having Gomez and van Dijk at the back and Fabinho in midfield would have meant that Mane, Salah and Firmino would have scored two or three goals in each of those matches. They are out of form and/ or below peak fitness. It's totally understandable, but with Mane and Salah at their sharpest I believe we'd have won at least two or three of those matches, even without van Dijk and Gomez and without Fabinho in midfield.

13 Jan 2021 12:17:01
Yeah, and that is a good point, JK. A team who is expecting to go for the league title and Champions League going into a season with only three established central defenders, two of whom have had recurring injuries, was identified as risky at the time by a lot of people. On reflection, you'd have to say it was a bad call, but I guess the thought process would have been that Fabinho could drop in to provide cover for the occasional match if required, and I guess almost nobody would have factored in that two of the three would get season-ending injuries within the first six weeks of the season.

13 Jan 2021 13:10:41
Absolutely RR Mane hasn’t been right since his C.V. and Salah is missing chances he’d normally bury. The Newcastle game was a case in point. That was a 3 or 4-0 earlier in the season but the longer you go on without scoring the more desperate you get and the more resolute the opposition gets. If Salah takes one of his chances it opens up the game and as I think we all know goals change games.
The point is at the moment we are not creating enough chances for the front 3 to allow them to miss chances and get away with it. That, I believe is down to the points I raised earlier.
I think it showed even more against Southampton as we had both Fabs and Hendo out of the midfield so just didn’t look remotely threatening at all.
First 20 minutes against West Brom was just too easy so we switched off and got punished. Newcastle was poor but a game where we should’ve won comfortably. We were just wasteful.
It was the Southampton defeat which hammered home the effects of playing our ball winners in defence. No threat from the full backs or the front 3 all game and that was due to yes, a lack of form but mostly that they had 3 defenders around them every time they got the ball as we were slow to win the ball and even slower to get it to them.

13 Jan 2021 13:53:56
100% agree we have moved Fab (longer term) and Hendo (shorter term) out of one of the best midfields in Europe that are proven winners. And those pair have moved in to replace one of the best centre back pairings in Europe and proven winners (Vvd and Matip CL and Vvd and Gomez PL) . So not only have we lost that midfield we have lost that defence.

13 Jan 2021 15:06:35
Too much sense being made on this thread. I love it. If I could chime in. We wanted a CB going into the season and we could not get one. We already had Gomez, VVD and Matip at CB with Fab and Hendo as emergency CB's on the rare occasion. Now one would have to be Nostradamus to know that both Matip and Gomez would be out for the season that early. Miss games? Yes. Injured? Yes. Out for the season? No Therefore, there is no point trying to rewrite history on what happened in the summer cos none of us even dreamt of these injuries esp. in the manner they occurred, happening.

That said, we are having multiple issues and it is pretty spread out. Playing Hendo and Fab at CB is carrying a knock on effect elsewhere and we all know that. The front three are also short of confidence and this is showing in their play cos the movement is lacking and with our best midfielders missing, we cannot press the way we need to and get them the ball in spaces where they can attack the opposition regardless if they park the bus or not.

As for possession, it is a false stat. in this case cos teams give us possession as an actual tactic, to nullify us cos that is their best chance. This is nothing new. The only way we don't break them down is when we don't take our chances, show lack of intensity in our play or we are off form, all of which is happening at the same time right now.

Solution? We need to get back to basics and as ED01 said, get a CB partnership and stick with it esp. if no CB can be signed. Get Thiago, Ox, and Shaq up to speed to give us something diff. and get the front three moving to hold the line till Jota comes back who will again, give us something diff. All options are on the table, IMO.



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