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Liverpool: No case for the defence!

On the face of it a 1-1 draw against reigning champions Chelsea is not a bad result. However when Conte packed his midfield with three defence minded Trojans in Kante, Bakayoko and Drinkwater it is clear that Conte was happy with a draw. Liverpool missed an opportunity to take the initiative and grab three valuable points against a close rival. They had the edge in a close , high quality match and despite some Keystone Kop defending, (no pun intended), throughout the match had got themselves into a 1-0 lead late in the match. However, all the worries and concerns brought about by a recent history of conceding silly goals and collapsing from winning positions caused Liverpool to retreat to their own box and try to hang on. This gave all initiative to Chelsea and though the manner of their equaliser was fortuitous they deserved their point on the night. This was when they needed someone with a bit of composure and presence to drag the team upfield, so that then when Chelsea's attacks broke down they had an out ball and could retain possession instead of it coming straight back at them. They don't have this player in their team and you feel that the players are looking for help from the bench rather than within. The question to be answered is this. Is this a fault of the philosophy or personnel? A friend of mine believes Klopp is the new Keegan but that's harsh there is a lot more to Klopp's tactical nous than good motivation skills and gung ho attack. After all he rebuilt Borrussia Dortmund and won back to back titles, a German Cup and reached the final of the Champions League. A lot has been made of the personnel and clearly the players in defence aren't good enough and the system regularly exposes them. Liverpool are crying out for a quality holding midfielder, some one to stay disciplined and be the defensive rock that the defenders can use as a rallying point. Currently Jordan Henderson nominally fulfils this role, but he is by no means a holding midfielder. Henderson's problem is that he is pretty good at everything but great at nothing. He will score a few goals, he is a pretty good passer of the the ball, he is a pretty good tackler, he is pretty athletic and mobile, he is pretty fast, pretty vocal, has a pretty good football brain but it's not enough. The truly outstanding holding midfielders of the last few years have fallen into two categories, they are either brilliant technicians with brilliant football brains, think Pirlo, Alonso or Modric. All great passers of the ball, all happy to receive the ball in tight situations and retain possession and all very clever footballers. Or they are extremely mobile, workaholics crunching into tackles, chewing up the miles in front of the defence, think a 26 year old Mascherano or indeed Chelsea's Kante. Henderson doesn't fall conveniently into either of these brackets. The holding midfielder he is most similar to is Didi Hamann but he hasn't got Hamann's ability, presence and definitely not his football intelligence. The defenders at the club aren't good enough. Nathaniel Clyneis the only player at the club who is consistently defensively solid and injury has kept him out all season. The two players that have played in his place Gomez and Alexander-Arnold look like they may develop into top players but it's always tough to introduce youngsters to a defence without a solid foundation. Alberto Moreno has forced himself back into the first eleven apparently rejuvenated and more secure but he looks the same player to me, naive, unintelligent and a liability. Andy Robertson clearly needs a run at left-back. At centre back Lovren's problems are well documented, he makes poor decisions and rumours abound about his big time attitude when he first arrived at Anfield. Joel Matip is considered a success and on a free transfer he certainly is, but is he good, enough for me the jury is still out, he looks good because of the mediocrity around him. Finally the goalkeepers aren't good enough, I just can't see Cech, Cortois or De Gea letting in Willian's chip come cross. Why then hasn't Klopp invested in this area? Whhe had spent big money his purchases have been successes Mane, Salah, Wijnaldum we are still waiting to see on Oxlade-Chamberlain. A lot of column inches have been devoted to the chase for Virgil Van Dyke but the most bizarre transfer window in history meant he stayed at Southampton . In the last 5 years the Saints have sold everything bar the canteen cutlery to Liverpool but suddenly decided Liverpool were bad guys this summer and wouldn't sell. Van Dyke is exactly what Liverpool need he is a big and strong central defender but more importantly he is calm, self-assured and composed on the pitch with a very good reading of the game. He isn't the answer on his own, though, Liverpool need a quality holding midfielder of the highest calibre. The right two players completely changes the teams fortunes. Until Liverpool get the right personnel silly goals and weak collapses are going to continue with frustrating regularity for the Anfield faithful! By Clive Palmer

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