Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at West Brom last Sunday was highlighted by the critical error of defender Kolo Toure. Toure, handling the ball deep in Liverpool territory, fell under pressure and made a lazy pass across the top of his own box. Victor Anichebe stepped in front of the pass and coolly tucked away the gift in the 67th minute to equalize.
Liverpool’s play puts a lot of faith in the back four to handle the ball, building the attack from the back. At halftime of the match, West Brom Manager Pepe Mel made a key strategy change, deciding to press high with two forwards, cutting off the passing lanes to the Liverpool midfielders. It paid off with the Toure play. This crucial switch brought to light what may be a glaring reality concerning Liverpool, which is that the current personnel they have isn’t suited to play this way.
The passing statistics from the West Brom game raise questions about this group going forward. Liverpool defenders were put into more compromising situations with the easy outlet lanes being clogged, forcing them to play across the back more often, as well as resort to more clearances. Three of the Liverpool defenders posted above average numbers in passes (Jon Flanagan may have also if he was not subbed), while every player was below average in passing accuracy (Aly Cissokho shockingly so).
With fourteen matches left, many against high-pressure and opportunistic attacking teams, it could be that we see the stress turned up on this back four more often. Martin Skrtel has two own goals this season already, along with a history of making critical errors in the back. Cissokho is just plain bad on the ball and Toure has proven he is vulnerable too. If teams decide to start making this back unit prove themselves, the result could be more devastating mistakes. No doubt they will be put to the test this Saturday when top of the table Arsenal visit Anfield.