Perhaps the hardest thing to get right in football is the balance between attack and defence. While going forward with quality cannot be achieved merely with a gung-ho attitude, even mediocre teams can try to play with an excess of attackers and see how the ball lands. Equally, mediocre teams can also put ten men behind the ball and, on more than the odd occasion, frustrate the life out of the best sides in the world, but offer nothing themselves when the onus is on them.
The Norwich game was fascinating (and hugely frustrating), as Liverpool attacked with numbers, and, in the form of Luis Suarez, genius; but to Norwich’s credit, they defended with numbers and also, at times, their own sense of ambition. Liverpool were sensational at times, but in the second half in particular, lacked sufficient balance.
When Norwich had their spells, the Reds were clearly too vulnerable. Of course, had Suarez and co. taken their early chances, the game could have been as good as over after 20 minutes. Five-nil wouldn’t have flattered at that stage.
It all resulted in a game where both teams felt they’d done enough to come away with something; Liverpool in terms of creating enough chances to win a load of games, and Norwich will feel that they deserved at least a point for hanging on in there, fighting back and creating chances of their own. If it was scored like boxing, Liverpool would have won by some distance, but sometimes in sport you have to deliver the knockout blow.
And this season, that’s where the Reds are falling short. Chances aren’t being taken (as noted by Dan Kennett’s piece here), and the defence is being punished for every little error.
Much of the balance comes from the midfield; how it supports the strike-force and how it protects the defence.
This site will be focussing on the midfield in the coming week, with one piece for subscribers already published, and two more to follow. It just so happens that it’s an area that I’d also like to now address, following the Norwich game.
This post is for Subscribers only.