Liverpool defence labelled an "utter shambles" as Leeds show up 'fundamental problem'


Liverpool’s defending in the 4-3 win over Leeds United on Saturday has been labelled an “absolute and utter shambles”.

That’s according to Steve Nicol, who spent 13 years at Anfield, winning four league titles and making over 400 appearances for the club.

The Premier League champions struggled to stifle an aggressive Leeds side, with Marcelo Bielsa’s men equalising on three occasions on the opening day of the new season, before succumbing to Mohamed Salah’s penalty.

Nicol was far from impressed with Liverpool throughout, and believes the defensive structure of Jurgen Klopp’s side could leave them in “big trouble” if it isn’t improved upon fast.

“You've got Liverpool's backline trying to push up, almost on the halfway line,” said Nicole.

“That's not 'well it was one of those days' type of things, that is a huge, fundamental problem.
The champions ultimately claimed victory, but Nicol was far from impressed (Image: CameraSport via Getty Images)

“It doesn't get any more basic than your backline closing when there's no pressure on the ball.

"It really is a huge problem if you get it wrong.

“When you get it wrong you see what happens and if you don't fix that, you're in big, big trouble defensively.”

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Liverpool got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds.

The Reds remain keen on Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara, but Georginio Wijnaldum continues to be linked with Barcelona.

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Virgil van Dijk has come in for criticism for his role in Patrick Bamford’s equaliser that made the match 2-2 during the first half.

Speaking on Sky Sports, ex-Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher labelled the Dutchman’s attempt to flick the ball over Bamford’s head to a teammate, rather than playing safe, as “arrogant”.

But for Nicol, the key issues weren’t merely down to individuals, despite criticism of Van Dijk, but rather the entire structure along the backline.
Van Dijk fumes after his error (Image: Getty Images)

“I don't care how good you are as individuals, you have to defend as a group and they're not defending as a group,” he continued, speaking on ESPN.

“I'm not talking about what's in front of the backline, I'm talking about the actual back four.

"Whatever the back four did, they did it together last year when they were successful. That's the key to it all.

“Whatever is going on in front of them, whether it's good or bad, they're the backline, it's their job to be the backline, they're the last line of defence.

“What they did well was they did every single thing together. They were up and down the field, whatever it was, together.

“What they're doing now is they are all over the place. It's an absolute shambles and it's huge. You get this wrong and you're going to lose goals for fun.

“When you start thinking about yourself and not the line, then you see what happened. Absolute and utter shambles.”

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