28 Sep 2015

'Big, Fat Zero': Aldo slates £38m Liverpool-trio for 'absolute shambles' against Villa. 'Major worry'?

At the weekend, Liverpool secured a much-needed victory over Aston Villa, but once again, the team's attacking efforts were undone by shoddy defending, with two glaring mistakes allowing Tim Sherwood's team back into the game. Thankfully, the Reds managed to score three goals, but Anfield legend John Aldridge insists that LFC's defence remains a 'major worry'.

In his column for Sunday World, Aldo scathed:

"Defensively, Liverpool were an absolute shambles. If you asked me to give a mark out of ten for the defence, I’d go with a big, fat ZERO. Every time an average Villa side went forward, it looked like they were going to score".

The victory has papered over the cracks somewhat, but a policy of 'you score two, we'll score three' is unsustainable, especially when the team is struggling to consistently score goals.

Make no mistake about it: with only 4 points from 7 games, Villa are one of the poorest teams in the league, and the Midlands club is currently in the relegation zone. It's galling to note, however, that Villa have scored *more* goals than Liverpool this season, but I digress...

I've defended Martin Skrtel many times over the last year, and in my view, the Villa game showed once again that the players around him are the main cause of Liverpool's defensive instability:

* Can: Lost concentration for the first goal, and allowed Gestede to ghost into the box and score. Seconds before the cross came in, Skrtel specifically communicated with Can and told him (verbally and via arm signals) to stick with the Villa striker. Can also provided him with another gilt-edge opportunity when his feeble clearance went straight to Gestede, who narrowly missed.

* Sakho: Should've cut out Hutton's cross for the first goal, but for some inexplicable reason, he made no attempt to make an interception. For the second goal, Sakho had all the time in the world to watch play develop, and see the cross come in, yet he was still outjumped by Gestede, who powered home the header.

As for Skrtel: watch the highlights - for the first goal, he stuck to his player like glue, and relied on Sakho to cut out the cross. For the second, Sakho was clearly making Gestede, and had followed him into the box. Skrtel was exactly where he should've been.

Skrtel makes mistakes too, but he rarely commits errors that lead to opposition goals. Over the last three years, the stats show that the Slovakian is Liverpool's most consistent defender, and given the constant changes in defence, it's admirable (IMO) that he's remained so consistent.

It seems likely that Rodgers will stick with three at the back over the next few months, and to promote defensive solidity, he should keep the same back three as much as possible. If that's Can/Skrtel/Sakho (combined cost/worth: £38m), then so be it, but they should also start Cup games together, too.

Given the club's defensive problems, rotation should be out of the question - the defensive unit needs to build up an understanding, and that can't happen with constant changes. As such, Rodgers should Start Can/Skrtel/Sakho as much as possible, and then make energy-saving substitutions in the last third of the game (if necessary).

If that happens, perhaps the defence will graduate from 'absolute shambles' to something approaching slightly above average, or even consistently solid.

Author: Jaimie K



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