Jamie Carragher’s defensive expertise were called into action on the very first weekend of the new Premier League season thanks to a reminder of Liverpool’s frailties at the back.
A familiar incompetence against set pieces was on show yet again as the Reds slumped to a 3-3 draw away to Watford, in which they conceded a 93rd minute equaliser.
The home team’s first and last goals both stemmed from set piece crosses into the box, leading to a scathing analysis from Carragher of a recurring issue.
Though the Anfield legend urged the signing of Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, he also admitted the Dutchman would not be enough to solve Liverpool’s problems.
“It’s the set up from the manager. They concede the most goals out of anyone in the top six. Nothing has changed,” he said on Sky Sports.
“Whether it’s zonal marking, the players he puts in certain positions, the positions of the full-backs in general play are far too high and wide for me, which gets centre-backs exposed.”
“I don’t care who is at centre-back, you can’t do that much to stop those goals. They’re awful defensively, one man won’t change that.”
“One man is not going to [make a difference], the position of the full-backs in general play leaves the centre-backs exposed.”
“Van Dijk is better than [Lovren and Matip] and that’s why he’s [valued at] £50 or £60m, but it doesn’t matter how good a centre-back is, they are being exposed.”
Roberto Firmino’s central positioning for Stefano Okaka’s opener posed as a glaring issue within a hopeless zonal marking system.
Neither Joel Matip or Dejan Lovren were in a position to make an impact and both strangely found themselves in front of and behind arguably the most dangerous area for a corner to be whipped into.
Despite only being the first game of the season, another unconvincing defensive display hinted at a worrying lack of progression.
Van Dijk walks into Liverpool’s starting lineup, but he doesn’t necessarily make the kind of difference many might expect him to.
It’s been a problem for too long now for the Reds not to go all out and address.