Football Features

Liverpool stats: Understanding the Reds’ leaky defence

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 17:54, 2 May 2024

Liverpool’s title hopes are hanging by a thread, with defensive deficiencies at the heart of their decline.

Jurgen Klopp’s men sit five points behind leaders Arsenal after last weekend’s 2-2 draw at West Ham, having failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous eight top-flight fixtures.

And a leaky rearguard also contributed to Liverpool’s exit from European competition, when a 3-0 Europa League quarter-final defeat to Atalanta proved too much to overturn in the second leg.

After posting solid defensive numbers for much of the season, why have the Reds started conceding so many goals?

A recent phenomenon

Only Arsenal (28) and Manchester City (32) have conceded fewer goals than Liverpool (36) in the Premier League this season..

The Reds have allowed opponents just 10.86 shots per match, with 7.23 of those from inside the box — placing them in the division’s top three teams for both metrics.

Their record of nine clean sheets is also only bettered by four clubs, reflecting a side that was defensively resilient until recent weeks.

However, an Expected Goals Conceded of 41.27 hints that Klopp’s outfit have been perhaps a little fortunate not to concede more often across the campaign.

Marking matters

Jarell Quansah has been impressive since stepping up into the Liverpool first team. However, he endured a difficult afternoon against West Ham — failing to adequately mark Michail Antonio for the Hammers’ second goal.

And Saturday was not the first time that defensive lapses have cost Liverpool.

Jarrad Branthwaite’s opening goal in last month’s Merseyside derby resulted from a comedy of errors at the back, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin was left unmarked in the box to double Everton’s lead.

It was a similar story in the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, when Eberechi Eze found himself in acres of space to score what proved to be the winner at Anfield.

The Reds must stop allowing their opponents so much freedom inside the penalty area.

Uphill task

Liverpool have conceded 20 first-half goals this season, which is significantly more than Arsenal (11) and Man City (15).

That has had a notable impact on their title hopes over the past eight games, with Klopp’s team finding themselves behind in five of those fixtures.

Liverpool haven’t been able to fully overturn that deficit on four occasions — drawing twice and losing two of the matches in which they went behind early on.

With comeback victories requiring a great deal of physical and mental energy, it will be crucial for Liverpool to shore things up in their final games of the season against Tottenham, Aston Villa and Wolves.