IT happened, didn’t it? The thing you thought might not happen again, that you’d convinced yourself might be a thing of the past, that you thought had disappeared.
Yeah, that’s right you thought that the brain-fart had been eliminated from Simon Mignolet’s game. But no, oh no, it was back with a vengeance on Saturday. A simple catch in his penalty box from a ball in the air wasn’t clasped to his chest, it wasn’t punched clear, it was dropped at the feet of Alfred N’Diaye and Hull were put into a lead that even a fully grown partisan divvy dressed as a tiger wouldn’t try to justify.
I didn’t think the first half was disastrous on Saturday, we dominated possession and created a few half chances; Philippe Coutinho was unlucky not to score, we could have had a penalty and if we’d have gone in at half-time at 0-0 you’d have been fine with it. You’d obviously be frustrated not to lead, but you’d think we’d have another 45 minutes to go at a very poor side and you’d expect us to break them down.
As it was, we gave Hull a free goal and went from needing to break a stubborn set of bastards down once to having to break them down twice. It wasn’t even like breaking them down once would make it easier because they’d have bitten your hand off for a point. I don’t think they spent more than about 25 seconds in our box in the whole first half and we were going in behind. The regularity with which we do stupid things that impact us negatively is pathetic. We give out more presents than any team I’ve seen.
Hull scored from their only corner. A corner that we gifted to them because Emre Can decided to miss pass it 30 yards instead of a pretty simple five-yard pass to James Milner.
Over the last few years we have consistently put ourselves under unnecessary pressure. We gave Swansea a corner that was completely avoidable as well – they put it in the box and scored.
We appear to not be great at defending corners – so here’s a crazy idea: stop giving stupid corners away that are completely avoidable. If we’re defensively suspect, which it appears that we are, then maybe don’t do stupid things near your own goal and exacerbate the problem.
The problem is cyclical, though. A lot of people believe that a goalkeeper should be there to bailout teammates for their mistakes – it’s not something I really agree with. I actually think it’s the other way round. If you don’t want your goalkeeper to make mistakes, don’t let the ball go near him. As a defender that should be your job. If you’re a defender you’ve had a good game if your ‘keeper could have spent 90 minutes with his feet up reading The Times while he’s wearing a pair of slippers and smoking a pipe.
How many times has Thibaut Courtois had to bail out his Chelsea team mates this season? I don’t know off the top of my head but I don’t remember seeing it very often. However, I did see a statistic the other day saying that David Luiz (who was a laughing stock six months ago) has made a mistake that has been punished once this season. And by punished I mean he’s made one mistake that has ended up with the opposition having a shot, not scoring, having an actual shot on goal.
As a result, Courtois has to do very little. How many mistakes have you seen him make this season? How many great saves have you seen him make this season? I suspect you can probably count both on your left hand and still have enough fingers left to play darts. This isn’t me doing down someone that I think is a very good goalkeeper, but give yourself the best chance of winning. Don’t give yourself unnecessary hurdles to overcome.
Yes, Courtois is a better goalkeeper than Mignolet, but his team help him out. We don’t do that, we put our ‘keeper under pressure and give him the opportunity to make mistakes. And as he isn’t a keeper of the level that we really require it looks even worse. If a goalkeeper’s job is to bail out his teammates when they make a mistake, we haven’t exactly got someone who’s up to the task, have we?
Petr Cech has looked the same since he’s gone to Arsenal, obviously he’s head and shoulders above Mignolet as a goalkeeper and their careers are incomparable, but he gets put in lots of positions he shouldn’t be and then as a result ends up doing things that impact Arsenal negatively. The reality is the problem started 30 yards up the pitch.
I’m not quite sure Hugo Lloris is as good as the common consensus says. But he plays behind a wall that doesn’t let teams go near him, a set of players who don’t indulge in gross stupidity. A top team’s goalkeeper shouldn’t be a last resort in case of stupidity, it should be there when the other teams have managed to get through your midfield and defence. We don’t make teams break the door down, we leave the door ajar. Just push it a little bit and it’ll open.
This isn’t to excuse Mignolet. I wasn’t particularly keen on bringing him back in the first place, and now I think we need to make a change. Our attack is generally good enough to cover any issues – take Crystal Palace in late October for example. Dejan Lovren made a dreadful attempt at a clearance and Palace scored. No problem, we’d finished the game with 20 minutes to go. But you can’t rely on your attack taking care of things for you all the time. Sometimes you have to enable yourselves to grind out a 1-0 win away from home.
Have a look at how many 1-0 wins Chelsea have got this season. It’s a lot easier to win games of football when you don’t shoot yourself in the foot. I’m not going to break them down but I have had a quick look through our goals and reckon somewhere in the region of about 13 goals have been conceded as a result of us doing something stupid. Thirteen. Chelsea have conceded 17 and Spurs have conceded 16. Imagine Sadio Mané had decided not to punch the ball at Sunderland, if Can hadn’t put that behind for a corner on Saturday, if Ragnar Klavan doesn’t attempt to play a raking 40-yard pass to his right back at Burnley. Think how easy it is to claw back points on Chelsea simply by not doing stupid things.
I haven’t even listed all of the stupid things. I’ve listed three. One that gave a team an equaliser and two that gave teams a lead. Two games against promoted sides that we couldn’t win 1-0 because we were thick. It’s infuriating. We can’t really have an off-day and win because when we have an off-day we give a stupid goal away.
I don’t think it’s as easy as just changing the goalkeeper and Loris Karius had a spell earlier in the season when, if we’re being honest, he didn’t look great but I’ve watched Mignolet for four years and I know he isn’t good enough. Persevering with him isn’t going to suddenly change the last four years – if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and walks like a duck and it’s been sat down the end of your garden for four years, it isn’t suddenly going to turn into a swan because you want a swan instead of a duck.
I can’t be bothered with him anymore, we’ve got 14 games left this season and we need to see if Karius is actually worth a go or we should put a goalkeeper somewhere near the top of our summer list.
I refuse to believe Karius is of the level he showed us before Christmas. He can’t be – he wouldn’t have got a game at Mainz if he was and therefore we wouldn’t have signed him. Give him a run in the side, let’s have a look at him when there’s a little less pressure, and if he isn’t good enough he isn’t good enough – we can fix that in 14 games time. He certainly isn’t going to be playing instead of someone who’s going to be the difference between Champions League football and Europa League football.
In fact, I’d be inclined to give him the whole of next season on the condition that we spend the summer either signing players who aren’t stupid, or giving some of these idiots a lobotomy.
Stop being stupid, eh Reds? It’s tough enough without giving the opposition a head start.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Totally agree about the mistakes but bizarrely they only seem to occur against the poor teams most of the time!. Our record against the top 11 this season P12 W8 D4 L0 pretty much flawless, but against the bottom 9 P12 W5 D3 L4 whereas Chelsea have dropped 3 more points than us against the top 11 but their record against the bottom 9 is P11 W10 D1 L0!!!
That’s a great stat James, albeit a very depressing one. It does indicate clearly where the problem lies – teams with little or zero ambition. In the autumn as we battered all before us, I thought we’d cracked it. It turns out that was a purple patch and now we’re in a yellow one.
Should have bought Hart end of.
did you actually read the post? Put De Gea in goal and he would struggle with all the mistakes we make.
Hart is awful
Not a massive fan of stats sometimes but read the other day that Liverpool this season have conceded a total of 29 ‘big chances’. 16 of which the opposition didn’t have to create themselves. Just stop doing stupid things reds.
The Hull goal was Mignolet’s first classified error leading to a goal this season according to Opta. Cech and Lloris, to name 2, have got worse stats in that regard.
Make of that what you will….
The thing is we actually give up very few shots, I think we have given up the fewest in the Premier League (Whoscored.com has us given up 7.8 per game) – the problem is we give up so many “big chances” usually through daft mistakes. The second goal on Saturday we had two defenders back, yet Niasse manages to get through on a one on one with a simple punt up the field. How? You could argue the lack of a consistent center back pairing plays in to this, but then wouldn’t we concede more shots? How can we be so switched on to limit the number of chances, but then switch off to the point of giving up such easy chances?
Because we were 1-0 down with 5 minutes left and we were trying to score. No problem with losing a game 2-0 trying to get something out of it.
As a former defender I’d be curious to hear what an unfiltered Klopp would say about some of these lapses. I personally feel that we need a vocal leader at the back to solidify that group. I was hoping Lovren would grow into that as he was captain at Southampton, but he seems prone to moments of stupidity just like everyone else at the back.
Gerrard had Carragher, and before that Hyppia at the back… who’s the second leader behind Henderson in this team? I’d say Milner or Lucas but I don’t know if they’re vocal, but rather lead by example type of players. We need someone to get pissed off when we run through the motions against bottom half of the table teams, or any team.
Lovren was not captain at Southampton! Lovren isn’t a leader in any way, shape or form.
My bad, I thought I remember him having the armband in his final game against us when he was still with Southampton. I agree that he isn’t a leader though. He might put in all out on the pitch, and have had a few memorable moments in a red kit, but he should be third choice at best.
Bloody hell Phil, get a grip mate! An appalling goalkeeper automatically puts the defense under unnecessary pressure. Now that doesn’t help when you have a very ropey back four. But they know they can’t let the ball anywhere near the keeper and that’s when anxiety sets in. Thats just human nature thinking about the worst possible consequence and making that a reality. I challenge anyone to name an English league championship winning side with a shit keeper? Go on rack your brains, can’t do it can you? This is where Klopp is flawed. All success has to built with a solid base ie a goalkeeper who catches and punches and centre backs who win headers. For fuck sake even journeymen like Huth and Morgan could figure that out a year ago. Otherwise its just a house built on sand. Some of us more realists saw this coming as we saw this movie in 13/14. Its so disheartening.
Fabian Barthez. There’s 1.
Kasper Schmeichel. There’s 2.
Good piece over all but you ignore the obvious reasons for our defence being poor, Lovren and Milner are terrible. Lovren alone has cost us 10+ points this season and has been utterly awful since joining. Maybe you’re not allowed write that on this site.
Milner just can’t defend. He gets beaten too easily, he allows too many crosses and he gets no help from Lovren.
Replace Lovren and Milner with high end players in their positions, Van Dijk and Rodriguez, and our defence will be fine.
Reina collapsed form wise behind Skrtel and Johnson, Lovren and Milner have done the same to Karius
I’m allowed to write whatever I want.
Maybe I didn’t write because I disagree with you.
While I do agree with the notion that defenders can create issues for the keeper and vice versa, what about the goalkeeping coach John Achterberg, who joined the first team as coach some time in 2011, as being part of the problem?