Brendan Rodgers makes a solid defence for Liverpool rearguard
Ahead of Southampton clash Reds manager says he’d be happy to win 4-3 every week
Liverpool’s Aly Cissokho and Kolo Toure in action against Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud at Anfield, a game the home side won emphatically 5-1.
Liverpool have scored four or more goals in nine of their 27 league games to date, a remarkable strike rate that last week enabled them to overtake Manchester City as the highest scorers in the Premier League. Unfortunately the 4-3 win over Swansea also highlighted why Liverpool have still to overtake City in the title race.
Unforced defensive errors keep costing them goals at the back, and Liverpool have easily the highest goals-against tally of the four clubs currently occupying the Champions League positions.
A win at Southampton on Saturday evening would allow Liverpool to leapfrog City in the table, by virtue of the latter’s involvement in Sunday’s League Cup final, even if Manuel Pellegrini’s side would then have two games in hand.
Chelsea are increasingly looking like the team to catch in any case and, though Jose Mourinho keeps moaning about his lack of goalscorers, his team are the only one in the division that can boast an average of under a goal a game for goals conceded.
If Chelsea’s miserly 21 goals against is the standard to which defences should aspire, Liverpool’s 35 is way off the mark, and never in the history of the Premier League has the title been claimed by sides that have let in so many by this stage of the season.
That will not necessarily worry Brendan Rodgers, who has reined in the title talk of late and seen his side make up ground on the leaders as well-placed outsiders, though he is aware that momentary lapses of concentration at the back can undo hours of good work going forward.
“Everyone has seen over a period of time that mistakes have cost us,” the Liverpool manager said. “It is an area that we are looking to improve and we will do. The first task on coming here was to improve the goals for total, and we have done that. If I get enough time in the job we will look to improve in the other areas too.”
One of Liverpool’s problems has been constant changes in the back line due to injuries, although in the game against Swansea Rodgers made a bold call in replacing Daniel Agger after an hour because he did not feel he was strong enough to deal with Wilfried Bony. “Daniel can deal with that, he’s been outstanding in training all week and he will play at Southampton no question,” Rodgers said. “There was a wee bit of a spotlight on him last week but this is a collective effort.
“I will judge every player, whether he is the team captain, centre-forward or a squad player, and make a decision if I think it will get us a result. I have showed that in my time here and it was no different last week.”