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Steven Gerrard: “We can’t make it nervy” as Liverpool’s defensive worries resurface

Mar 26, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

Britain Soccer Premier League AP

2-0 up at home with 30 minutes to go against relegation haunted Sunderland, Liverpool were well on their way to a comfortable victory on Wednesday.

Think again.

The Black Cats fought back late on, pinning Liverpool in their own half following Ki’s 75th minute header which made it 2-1, but the Reds held on to move second in the standings and they now sit just one point behind Chelsea with seven games to go.

Liverpool welcome title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City to Anfield in April, as a pivotal few weeks lie in store for the Merseyside club. Captain Steven Gerrard bagged the Reds’ first goal against Sunderland with a stunning free kick, but he urged his team to hold their nerve late on in games down the stretch.

“Give credit to Sunderland, they came here to make it difficult for us and put five at the back and two holding midfielders and were difficult to break down,” Gerrard told Sky Sports. “We need to learn though, that when we go two goals in front that we can’t concede and make it nervy at the end. We should have controlled the game and passed it better, but hopefully we’ll learn that in the remaining games.”

(MORE: Liverpool 2-1 Sunderland – Nervy Reds go second, seal seventh-straight win)

Gerrard hopes Liverpool learn this lesson fast in the closing games, but all season the Reds have succumbed to sloppy defending which has let them down on several occasions.

If there’s one question mark surrounding their title credentials right now, it’s their inability to keep clean sheets.

Liverpool have recorded just two shutouts in their last eight games and have conceded 39 goals in 31 games. Nobody in the top five has let in more goals than that, as Brendan Rodgers‘ side must tighten up at the back if they’re going to take home the clubs first-ever Premier League title.

On the flip side, no team in the PL has scored more than Liverpool’s 84 goals. That domineering approach leaves them prone to conceding but if they’re going to beat the best teams when it really matters, silly mistakes like switching off at set pieces, as they did to let Sunderland get on the scoresheet, need to be cleaned up. ASAP.

  1. medic0nduty - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    This is why I think that ultimately, when the chips are down, Liverpool won’t win the league. They have the best strike partnership in the league, but, as Manchester City found out the hard way back towards the start of the season, you can’t always rely on your strikers to outscore your opponents; when the going gets tough you need to be able to rely on your defense, and time and time again this season Liverpool’s defense has let them down (see Kolo Toure’s mistake at West Brom and Skrtel’s own goal versus Hull, both mistakes that cost the Reds points). While yes, the rest of the top 4 haven’t been immune from high-profile mistakes, I can think of no other defense in the top 6 that has messed up as frequently and as consistently as Liverpool’s.

    And next season, barring any major developments, they’ll have Champion’s League as well, and this defense as it is now will be punished ruthlessly in the Champion’s League, not to mention that simply leaving it down to SAS to outscore opponents becomes a less viable strategy in the CL against better teams with better defenses and better midfields. So either Pool need a new center back or two, or Rodgers needs to change their tactics when they’re out of possession so they aren’t as open.

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