This week’s Monday Verdict looks at Crystal Palace’s struggles, the top-scoring foreign imports by country and poses some serious questions to Jurgen Klopp about Liverpool’s struggles.
The defensive flaws are obvious; why hasn’t Klopp fixed them?
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt “sick” due to his side’s defending in Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup loss at Leicester.
And he was unlikely to feel much better after the Reds’ hard-fought 3-2 win against the same opposition in the Premier League on Saturday.
The decision to put all their eggs in the Virgil van Dijk basket this summer certainly looks a strange one and underlines exactly why the Reds could yet make a defensive signing in January a priority.
Here we assesses exactly where it is going wrong for Liverpool at the back….
THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE IS ATTACK – OR IS IT?
- Why is Liverpool’s defence still so leaky?
The old saying was true of Liverpool on a night when they continued to leak goals. It was the first time since 1965 the Reds have conceded nine or more goals from their opening three away games – and that stat alone is a cause for real alarm. In total, the Reds have conceded 10 – and it might have been more. Liverpool’s defenders appear far more comfortable going forward.
However, when the Reds attacked they were exposed to the counter and the pace of Jamie Vardy, in particular.
In four prior games this month, since August’s 4-0 win over Arsenal, Liverpool had conceded 10 goals. Five of those came at Manchester City and two at Leicester in the League Cup.
But the Reds have now lost just one of their last eight Premier League away games after the victory over the Foxes. A small crumb of comfort for the Reds boss….
KLOPP’S FIRST-CHOICE DEFENCE NEEDS EXPLAINING
2. Why is Liverpool’s preferred defensive unit mainly Rodgers rather than Klopp signings?
Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren were restored in the centre of defence, in a four-man backline with Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno at full-back as Klopp made seven changes. The decision to restore Moreno to a first-choice player – having largely overlooked the Spaniard last season – seems strange to say the least. It’s also one explanation we’d love to hear from the Reds boss.
Four of the the five defensive unit (if you count keeper Mignolet) on display at Leicester are not Klopp signings. Why has he not brought in his own men to strengthen their obvious flaw?
LIVERPOOL LACK THAT SOLID MIDFIELD PRESENCE
3. Why do the Reds still lack a world-class midfield shield?
For all the qualities of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum, Liverpool do not have a midfield shield as selfless or physical as Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic, Chelsea’s Tiemoue Bakayoko, or Fernandinho of Manchester City.
Should the Reds boss have done more to address this over the summer? Granted, the arrival next summer (or possibly earlier if some reports are to be believed) of Naby Keita could improve their midfield steel, but the Guinean is more a Number 8 than a Number 4 the Reds so desperately crave
PROBLEMS WITH PACE
4. Why are Liverpool still getting done by the same tactics?
Vardy’s pace was a potent attacking weapon when Leicester won the title, so it was hardly a secret. In the two games, Liverpool have played against Leicester this week, why didn’t he adjust his game plan. If you can’t stop the player, then try cutting out the supply….
Matip, though, struggled time and again to keep up and was booked late in the first half for clumsily tripping the England striker. Vardy also caught Mignolet as he delayed over a clearance in one of a number of self-inflicted problems for the Reds. Moreno gave the ball away to Riyad Mahrez 30 yards from goal and Okazaki won the ball in the air on one occasion, albeit he was offside, before Mignolet saved on to Vardy’s head, resulting in a goal, and then felled the England striker for a penalty which he saved.
5. Why hasn’t Klopp still worked out who is No 1 is?
The game showcased the best and worst of Mignolet: some fine saves and some woeful passing. The Belgium goalkeeper is clearly an outstanding shot-stopper and expert at facing penalties – he has saved seven of the 15 he has faced in the league since joining Liverpool in 2013 – but his team-mates will hardly be inspired by his performances when he is prone to errors time and again.
If Klopp drops Mignolet again, then surely his confidence will not recover. But stick with him and the errors are likely to continue. The Reds boss has a big decision to make.
Eriksen sets landmark – but who are the other top overseas Premier League goalscorers?
A victory over West Ham is a sweet moment for Tottenham fans at the best of times, but Saturday’s topsy-turvy success at the London Stadium also brought with it a pleasing little Christian Eriksen stat for their supporters.
The Dane has been in imperious form for Spurs over the past 14 months or so and continued his excellent start to the current campaign with a well-taken finish that seemingly put Spurs in easy street against the Hammers.
The red card of Serge Aurier meant Spurs finished the game hanging on, but Eriksen’s goal made him the highest scoring Danish player (overtaking the Lord, Nicklas Bendtner himself) to ever grace the Premier League.
And that got us thinking who the other highest scoring foreign nationals are in the Premier League.
Here’s a handful of them*
*(Great pub quiz fodder this)
Algeria – Riyad Mahrez (27 goals)
Argentina – Sergio Aguero (128)
Australia – Mark Viduka (92)
Belgium – Romelu Lukaku (91)
Brazil – Philippe Coutinho (35)
Cameroon – Joseph-Desire Job (16)
Chile – Alexis Sanchez (53)
Colombia – Juan Pablo Angel (44)
Croatia – Nikica Jelevic (29)
Czech Republic – Patrik Berger (38)
Denmark – Christian Eriksen (33)
France – Thierry Henry (175)
Germany – Jurgen Klinsmann & Uwe Rosler (29)
Ghana – Tony Yeboah (24)
Italy – Paolo Di Canio (66)
Ivory Coast – Didier Drogba (104)
Japan – Shinji Okazaki (11)
Mexico – Javier Hernandez (40)
Morocco – Hassan Kachloul (16)
Netherlands – Robin van Persie (144)
Nigeria – Ayegbeni Yakubu (95)
Norway – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (91)
Poland – Robert Warzycha & Marcin Wasilewski (1)
Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo (84)
Russia – Andrei Kanchelskis (42)
Senegal – Demba Ba (43)
Serbia – Savo Milosevic (29)
South Africa – Benni McCarthy (37)
Spain – Fernando Torres (85)
Sweden – Freddie Ljungberg (48)
Switzerland – Xherdan Shaqiri (8)
Togo – Emmanuel Adebayor (97)
Trinidad & Tobago – Dwight Yorke (123)
Tunisia – Radhi Jaidi (8)
Turkey – Muzzy Izzet (34)
Ukraine – Sergei Rebrov (10)
USA – Clint Dempsey (57)
Uruguay – Luis Suarez (69)
Venezuela – Salomon Rondon (17)
Zimbabwe – Peter Ndlovu (34)
- More on this list are still current players than you’d expect
- A shock, perhaps to see Di Canio (and not Gianfraco Zola) as the top scoring Italian
- Rebrov’s total of 10 reminds us just how disappointing the 9-goal Andriy Shevchenko was for Chelsea
- With 57 goals, Clint Dempsey perhaps should have git more credit
- Any goalscoring Pole arriving in the Prem won’t have long to wait before they break their country’s record. (If only Robert Lewandowski had signed for Blackburn when he had the chance!)
No end in sight to Palace struggles – here’s how their start compares to the very worst
Crystal Palace suffered their sixth straight defeat without scoring a goal to extend their atrocious start to the Premier League season.
With a trip to Manchester United followed by a home game against Chelsea next on the agenda, there may be no end in sight for Palace and manager Roy Hodgson.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the worst starts to a season in the Premier League era, and what became of those teams.
Only Pompey under Paul Hart have waited longer than Palace for their first points of a Premier League campaign, losing their first seven games before eventually recording a win over Wolves in their eighth. Hart was sacked in November – Palace, of course, have already made such a move with Hodgson replacing Frank de Boer just four games in. Replacement Avram Grant was unable to save Pompey, who finished the season bottom of the table.
Saturday’s defeat took Palace beyond Southampton for the second-longest winless start since the top flight’s rebranding, with the Saints having lost their first five games that season. They took only a solitary point, against Tottenham, from their first eight and had to wait until their 10th match for their first win, 2-1 against Coventry, but recovered to survive in 17th place on 38 points.
MANCHESTER CITY, 1995-96
Despite starting with a 1-1 draw at home to Spurs, City lost their next seven games to Coventry, QPR, Everton, Arsenal, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest. They were ultimately relegated on goal difference, Steve Lomas running the ball to the corner flag in the closing moments against Liverpool on the final day in the mistaken belief their 2-2 draw would be enough to keep them up.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY, 1999-2000
Another team with just one point after eight games, that run for the Owls was rounded off by an 8-0 loss to Newcastle with five goals from Alan Shearer. They finished 19th, five points adrift of safety.
Paolo di Canio, having kept the Black Cats up the previous season, took just a point from his first five games before being sacked. Defeats to Liverpool, Manchester United and Swansea followed but new boss Gus Poyet eventually turned things around and an improbable late run of 13 points from five games, including a draw with Manchester City and wins away to Chelsea and Manchester United, kept them up in 14th.
Juande Ramos was jettisoned after a run of two points from the first eight games, including defeats to Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Portsmouth and Hull.
It always looked a false position for a team featuring the likes of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, and Harry Redknapp turned things around with a run of five wins in eight en route to an eighth-placed finish.
After a number of years battling against the drop, the Black Cats’ luck finally ran out under David Moyes last season. They took only two points from the first 10 games before beating Bournemouth on November 5, one of only six wins all season.