With new signing James Milner and club captain Jordan Henderson starting in centre-midfield for Liverpool in the first two league games of the season, the Reds are playing without any recognised defensive midfielder to protect their back-line. Although both players are well-known for their high work-rate and tracking back, they are not the stalwart midfielders the fans want to see. In the 2014/2015 Premier League campaign, the Reds conceded 1.26 goals per match, which is far too many for a side aiming to battle for a Champions League spot. Liverpool’s defence is not the strongest either, and without that protection in front of them, goals will continue to be leaked due to a lack of leadership and real quality in the back four.
Manchester City have Fernandinho, Arsenal have Francis Coquelin and Chelsea have Nemanja Matic. Man City conceded one goal per match last season, whereas Chelsea conceded only 0.84 and Arsenal just 0.95. They all have recognised defensive midfielders that break up the opposition’s attacking play and allow their team to quickly counter-attack. It is clear that Liverpool have enough quality to cause trouble for Premier League defences but when it gets tough, they can struggle to get the results that they need due to a lack of defensive stability. This will continue to happen, especially against the top four, unless they can sign a tough and dominant defensive midfielder that can break up the opposition’s flow. If one is not signed, Liverpool will find it challenging again to gain a Champions League spot even if they have the required firepower upfront.
Brendan Rodgers has been accused of spending too much money on signings that haven’t paid off in recent season. With the addition of Milner, Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke going forward, alongside Philippe Coutinho, many fans will say that money has been well spent so far by the manager this summer. However, this would only be true if Liverpool can sign an intimidating presence in front of the back four that would tighten the defence up and help to concede fewer goals. Liverpool finished second in the league in 2013/2014 with a less than convincing defence but that’s because they had the world-beater Luis Suarez, injury-free Daniel Sturridge and an in-form Raheem Sterling. Now their current attacking line does not come close to this and they still have issues at the back, meaning the club cannot rely solely on the forward options to carry them up the league. Liverpool need a defensive midfielder to take the pressure off the attacking players.
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