Liverpool’s failure to take all three points away from St James’ Park yesterday was once again put down to defensive frailties – Carl Clemente looks back at Liverpool’s defensive record at this stage of the season since the Premier League began in 1992.
Newcastle’s first half equaliser increased Liverpool’s ‘Goals Against’ tally to 20 in all competitions – and with only 12 games in – this is a rather alarming average of 1.6 goals per game.
Along with neighbours Everton, Watford and Leicester City – Klopp’s side is currently the joint third worst defence in the League after conceding 12 goals from their opening 7 matches. Only West Ham and Crystal Palace have let more in. When Comparing Liverpool’s numbers to the two Manchester teams who have only conceded two each – as early as it may seem, Klopp certainly has a lot of work to do if his team are going to be able to catch them.
Liverpool’s defensive record 12 games into the season in all competitions.
Key – GA – ‘Goals Against’. CS – ‘Clean Sheets’
* Brendan Rodgers was only in charge for the first eleven games of the 2015/16 season.
Furthermore, Liverpool’s current defensive stats don’t compare well to the ones of past seasons. In fact, Liverpool have never had a worse start to a season defensively since 1992/93, when Graeme Souness was at the helm. Twenty-five years ago, Liverpool conceded 24 goals in 12 games, averaging two goals a game and keeping zero clean sheets. Liverpool went on to finish 6th that season as Souness was unable to iron out early problems.
With regards to clean sheets, so far this season Klopp’s backline have only managed two – which isn’t impressive at all. In fact, the German has only managed to keep the opposition out on 37 occasions in the 111 games he has been in charge of Liverpool. [33.3%]
The average amount of goals conceded from past Liverpool sides during the first 12 games of the season is 12.4 – with today’s figure currently at 20 – Liverpool are in danger of soon conceding an average of two goals per game.
Klopp’s opposite number, Rafa Benítez – also features in the above list. Liverpool fans don’t need reminding that Liverpool were a defensive force under Benítez. The Spaniard occupies the final three positions on the list, reliterating how strong defensively Liverpool were under his management.
In addition, on two occasions, Benítez’s Liverpool kept more clean sheets than they conceded goals during the opening 12 fixtures of the 2004/05 season and then repeated such feat in 2006/07.
On the flip side, Klopp’s attack is currently well placed – scoring 13 times in 7 games makes the Reds the 4th best attacking side in the league. Moreover, going on last seasons’ offensive achievements and the amount of chances that are being created this campaign – scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem for Klopp – it’s keeping them out, where his problems lie.
During the forthcoming international break, Klopp and his staff urgently need to pinpoint what’s going wrong and act upon it immediately. Improvements in personnel are now out of the question. Therefore, it’s now solely down to hard work on the training pitches at Melwood to try and solve the persistent problems that are consistently occurring on the field of play.
Carl Clemente (@clemente_carl)