Blog by: Li Ming Law
Whilst Liverpool came out on top against Stoke City in their first game on the 2013/14 season, it took a valiant last-minute stop from new signing Simon Mignolet to snatch all three points from Stoke City’s clutches. The Reds need to be more clinical and decisive with their choices if they are to properly challenge for the European places this season.
Problem #1: Defensive lapses
Last season, we dominated games, but we lost a lot of them because of a lack of concentration. And thus were forced to chase the game on most occasions, allowing opponents the opportunity to breakaway on counterattacks to score the all-important second goal in order to pull away.
This game could have been very different had Robert Huth’s shot not cannoned of the crossbar and the shot we had cleared off our line. Whilst we are keeping the ball well, opponents are making clear cut opportunities if we talk about shot to goal percentage.
It is a problem that needs addressing. The penalty we gave away at the end might also signal that we lack the ability to make clutch plays, much like we did in that one year of the Rafael Benitez era, where we were known for snatching really late victories. We finished second that year, and Brendan Rodgers needs his players to be mentally toughened up to ensure if need be, we grind out an all-important win.
Problem #2: Finishing
This is already a very well documented problem. Daniel Sturridge and Iago Aspas are supremely talented players, but it remains to be seen whether they can consistently deliver the goals. Aspas was wasteful with the few chances he had in front of goal, whilst Jordan Henderson, despite being unlucky, was guilty of squandering fantastic opportunities as well.
It is not really a case of really needing a new signing in order to solve the problem, but rather requiring to put a bigger emphasis on it in training. Like last season, everything was good until the final third but we lacking the finishing touch, apart from Luis Suarez, that is.
Problem #3: Clear cut chances
Liverpool are making chances, but are also setting up very poor shots for themselves. Incredibly, 32% of their shots at Asmir Begovic’s goal came from outside the box. Ideally, Liverpool should get into that box more and try and fish out chances.
Although Sturridge, Aspas and Suarez are not superb headers of the ball, it would create panic for the opposition if more crosses are being hurled into the box. Eventually, a gilt-edged chance would come of it.
We still need that bit more variety in the way we play (including playing dirty to grind out a result), as defences are really tight in the Premier League. We can’t keep banking on Sturridge/Aspas feeding on Philippe Coutinho’s through balls all the time and hoping for the best.