Liverpool must maintain midfield structure to break into top four
Having conceded 12 goals in their first six Premier League games, it seemed that defensive unity would be more responsible than a lack of competition in attack for Luis Suarez for Liverpool failing to finish in the top four this season.
But successive clean sheets, albeit against Stoke and Reading who are hardly the most prolific at finding the target, suggests that improvement is now just around the corner.
With Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton showing signs of stuttering lately, there is at least one top-four spot up for grabs and it is 8/1 that this is filled by Liverpool.
Another striker in January would help, but at least creases at the other end of the field appear to have been ironed out.
Putting it bluntly, Liverpool were dreadful at the back early in the season, as they had to contend with a new managerial philosophy and a midfield that was still learning each other’s games.
Brendan Rodgers is all about ball retention, even in defence, and this caused its fair share of issues early on, primarily in the defeat to West Brom when two penalties were conceded.
Mistakes have also been prevalent, none more so than Martin Skrtel’s woeful back-pass in the draw with Manchester City and some rare blunders from Pepe Reina.
In midfield, Liverpool were attempting a higher pressing game, which in game three allowed Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla to play between the defensive and midfield lines and cause havoc.
After this things began to improve. There were clear signs of development against Manchester United and they certainly had the upper hand until Jonjo Shelvey’s disputed sending off.
The big difference was that Joe Allen sat a little bit deeper to prevent Shinji Kagawa replicating what Cazorla had previously achieved.
Since, Liverpool have seemed slightly more selective in their pressing and in general, players are growing more accustomed to their expected roles.
The fact that Nuri Sahin and Steven Gerrard have had a run of games together ahead of Allen has helped, while the defensive mistakes have been cut out.
Liverpool are 17/10 to win at Everton next and another clean sheet here will provide a more visible tick in the box for the club still being top-four contenders.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.