Liverpool FC’s defeat to Crystal Palace on Sunday has sent the alarm bells ringing; the team, having lost their last 5 games across all competitions, now stands on the brink of a crisis, compared to May 2014, when they stood close to the summit of the English premier League.

There are two ways of looking at the current situation at Liverpool.

First- Defensive laps

Going by the managerai??i??s own account, the team lacks experienced players. Liverpool brought in around a dozen new players in the summer who are either very young or new to the league. Brendan Rodgers addressed Liverpoolai??i??s poor form in defense, asserting that tightening the defense is something they have been working on lately.

Retrospectively, a majority of goals that Liverpool conceded during the run in to the international break, were soft goals that could have been avoided had the team been more compact and vigilant in front of their own goal. However, when we compare this season to the previous campaign under Rodgers (2013-14), Liverpool were actually leaking quite a few goals while cruising towards the end of the Premier League campaign. But, unlike the current situation, the Reds were outscoring their opponents, game after game, producing the required results, something that papered over the defensive vulnerabilities.

If one has to break down the reasons behind defensive lapses and put them under perspective, it would not be difficult to conclude that Rodgers took for granted his teamai??i??s inability to defend properly (in 13-14), and had it not been the explosively imposing form of Suarez and Sturridge, the teamai??i??s deficiencies were out there for everyone to judge and exploit (Liverpool 0 -1 Chelsea), if one (Mourinho) had the insight.

But thatai??i??s one way of looking at it.

Second- Playing Philosophy

When one looks at Liverpoolai??i??s current slump, instinctively, the performances get compared to that of the previous campaign. It is easy to establish that the defense isnai??i??t working and there is no real bite in the attack. Balotelli has underperformed, Gerrard hasnai??i??t been at his best, Coutinho is inconsistent, Lovren is out of place, Johnson has been consistently below average and the list goes on.

While it seems legitimate to compare the two campaigns and establish the weaker areas in order to fix them, if Rodgers goes around fixing all these problems step by step, it could be wee late in the day for it to actually matter anymore. Football is an adaptive system, where different entities come together and function as a whole, depending on each otherai??i??s performances. If everything looks broken, it could be that the problem is with the teamai??i??s approach and not with individual players.

With Suarez and Sturridge upfront, Brendan’s team was set up to score 5 goals a game. And more often than not, they managed to concede less than what they scored. At the moment, Liverpool have Balotelli, Lambert, and Borini to lead the forward line. The question is, are these strikers good enough to score 5 goals, with a relatively similar midfield support? Statistically, it is but obvious that Lambert, Borini or Balotelliai??i??s strike rate is not near that of Suarez and Sturridge.

The 'SAS' will look to keep Liverpool`s title hopes alive

Rodgers wants to do an ‘SAS’ with ‘BAB’ (Balotelli and Borini)

Which brings us to question Rodgers’ idea of doing an ai???SASai??i?? with the ai???BABai??i?? (Balottelli and Borini, not literally though, since they donai??i??t really start together). Why set out a team to score ai???a lot ofai??i?? goals when your players arenai??i??t capable of doing it? In 2013-14 campaign, Rodgers found the Sturridge and Suarez partnership working. In coherence with an adaptive system, Rodgers built a team that allowed these two to flourish and the team to thrive on the same. In 2014-15, Rodgers does not have those strikers, yet Liverpoolai??i??s style of play has not adapted to its front line. The Liverpool manager seems to be indifferent to the feedback loop, at odds with the principle he used to build his previous team.

Our objectives define our methods. If Liverpool are set up to not concede a single goal, their method will have to change accordingly. That might require Gerrard to be dropped or to be promoted further up the pitch. Clearly, expecting Gerrard to pull off a Nemanja Matic at 34 isnai??i??t exactly pragmatic. Perhaps Liverpool needs its own Matic, or alternatively, it needs a new Suarez.

Going by the bewildered look on Brendan Rodgersai??i?? face, while standing in the dugout at Selhurst Park, it is difficult to predict whether he was in disbelief because of his players’ performances, or alternatively, it was because of the fact that his players, in a repeat to the previous instances, did not show belief in his system of things.

Either way, Rodgers needs to respond. Liverpool need to decide whether they want to attack or they want to defend. Doing either, with a sense of purpose should eventually bring the results.

Brendan Rodgers needs to tweak Liverpoolai??i??s playing perspective and not just the defense.

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