Liverpool’s abysmal record against the sides in the lower regions of the Premier League continued on Monday night as they went down 3-1 to Leicester City.
The relegation-threatened champions had not won a league game in 2017 – or even scored a goal – but were able to tear through Liverpool’s defence at will in their first match without recently-fired manager Claudio Ranieri.
After the match, Sky Sports pundit and former Reds vice-captain Jamie Carragher laid the blame squarely not at the side’s porous defence, but the man that had them playing that way.
In particular, Carragher took aim at manager Jürgen Klopp’s continued use of James Milner at left-back and Lucas Leiva in the centre – insisting that these stop-gap measures are contributing to Liverpool’s defensive frailties:
“I think Klopp has far too much faith in certain players, really.
“He has to make changes in the summer. And while I’m not saying tonight is a good thing, it reinforces the changes that need to be made.
“Sometimes as a Liverpool fan, when it’s going well you kid yourself about certain things. I love James Milner, but he’s not a left-back.
“Lucas Leiva I’m sure is getting plenty of stick off Liverpool fans tonight, but I actually felt so sorry for that lad. I was happy when he came off.
“I have no blame for him. He shouldn’t be playing there. It’s like putting me at right wing and saying ‘why aren’t you beating your full-back? I can’t. There’s no way I can possibly do it. And there’s no way Lucas can catch Vardy in a sprint if the team are pushed up to the halfway line.
“He was put in a position that completely exposed him. There should be no blame attached to him.
“The blame for that should be with Jurgen Klopp for putting him in that position.”
Although Liverpool are the joint-highest goalscorers in the league this season, their record of 33 goals conceded in 26 games looks set to cost them. Indeed, a record of 1.3 goals conceded on average per match is identical to their return over the past three seasons – suggesting that their long-standing issues at the back are not being improved upon.
Liverpool have conceded 181 PL goals in the last 4 seasons – only 8 teams have conceded more. pic.twitter.com/JZpZUPfFwZ
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 27, 2017
Ordinarily a team would be worried that their next match is against Arsenal, but given Klopp’s record against other top six sides it would not be a surprise to see them win at Anfield this weekend.