Premier League • England

Liverpool urged to bolster flawed area Souness saw ‘exposed’, as trio criticised

Samuel Bannister
Graeme Souness December 2019 TEAMtalk

Liverpool have been advised to find a “maestro” for their midfield after Graeme Souness claimed their three players in that position were “bullied” in their draw against Chelsea.

Liverpool came away from Stamford Bridge with a point after a 2-2 draw on Sunday. They were two goals ahead courtesy of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, but Chelsea hit back before half-time. Mateo Kovacic scored a stunner before Christian Pulisic equalised.

In truth, it was the least Chelsea deserved. The Blues had been on top before going behind and ended the game with more shots and possession than Liverpool.

One key area in which the hosts outperformed their visitors, according to Souness, was in midfield. Seeing the bigger picture, the pundit urged his former side to find a way to get better control of possession.

He said on Sky Sports: “Chelsea bossed midfield today. Liverpool have a great success by pushing up, all three parts of the team all being in contact with each other.

“It only works when the midfield of Liverpool are putting the opposition under pressure, every time they get the ball and keeping the midfielders’ head down and the strikers’ head down and you can’t hold a high line.

“In the Liverpool teams I played in we knew there would be half a dozen times where we’d get caught by holding a high line that might cost you a goal but the advantages over the rest of the season by playing that way you win more games than lose.

‘Bossed and bullied’

“Liverpool this year, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and James Milner were not at the races today. They were bossed and bullied by Chelsea’s midfield.

“The possession stats tell you that, 130 more passes tells you that and it wasn’t the Liverpool we’ve seen the last three or four years where they bully teams.

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“Liverpool need more of a maestro in there. Thiago is certainly a better footballer than what they have but by doing that you lose that in momentum in terms of pressing and being on the front foot.

“They were exposed today Liverpool by the midfield not really managing to control Chelsea.”

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Liverpool urged to strengthen midfield

Souness is not the only pundit to recommend that Liverpool improve in midfield.

Prior to the game, Paddy Kenny told Football Insider that Liverpool need to recruit both in midfield and up front to avoid a season without trophies.

Reflecting on their previous loss to Leicester, Kenny said: “Liverpool were miles off it. They just didn’t look like they wanted it enough. So that was a blow for them with Man City looking so dominant as well.

“Then you look at Salah, Mane and Keita all set to go to the Africa Cup of Nations, they need new players in January.

“The midfield is already a bit weak, for me, so that is somewhere I would look to improve.

“But Salah is the one who will be missed most, obviously. A new attacker could just freshen up that frontline.

“I don’t think Liverpool can afford another quiet window. They need to heavily invest or they won’t win anything again. For this manager and these players that’s unacceptable.”

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