The many sides of Liverpool: How good is their attack?
Should the Reds be doing better going forward?
The common perception of Liverpool is that their thrilling attacking play is often undone by poor defending.
Jurgen Klopp’s side press high up the pitch and break at devastating speed with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in wide areas. They’ve scored 13 goals in seven Premier League games so far this season, the fourth-highest tally in the division.
However, they’ve also let in 12 goals at the other end. Only West Ham United and Crystal Palace have conceded more.
Their problems at the back are well known. Simon Mignolet is still unconvincing in goal. And once opponents get beyond the initial press, it’s too easy to expose the defenders.
But Liverpool’s attackers should arguably be doing more. 10 of their 13 goals came in three matches against Watford, Arsenal and Leicester City. They were open matches which gave Klopp’s side the room to counter.
They’ve failed to score more than one goal in the other four. Aside from the 5-0 hammering against Manchester City, those games have come against sides that are happy to sit deep and deny Liverpool the room they need.
Where’s the Creativity?
One of the problems is a lack of creativity. When space is at a premium, Liverpool lack the guile needed to break sides down.
Philippe Coutinho has the talent to conjure something out of nothing. Even he can’t do it every week though.
Adam Lallana’s return should improve their use of the ball. The former Southampton player will help to free up Coutinho. He passes quickly to draw the opposition out of their defensive shape.
Another weakness is poor finishing. Liverpool have created 101 chances in the top flight this term, the joint-highest total with Manchester City. Many of them are long shots, though they have been guilty of wasting clear sights of goal.
Roberto Firmino is Klopp’s first-choice striker, more for his all-around game than his finishing. He’s only scored over 15 league goals once during his career. But his movement, work-rate and skill make him a very good fit for the former Dortmund boss’ system.
The problem is even more pronounced in Europe. Liverpool have taken 40 shots in the Champions League. That’s more than every side in the competition bar Bayern Munich (44). And yet the Reds have only scored three goals with those shots. They’ve drawn both games so far as a result.
Liverpool would undoubtedly be a better side if they tightened up at the back. That’s easier said than done though. Additions in the transfer market are needed to make a significant difference to their defending.
That means Liverpool’s best hope of winning major honours this season will be by blowing teams away with their attacking play. For that to happen, they need to improve in possession to create more clear chances against sides that look to frustrate them. And they can’t afford to waste those chances either.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing