Liverpool have been on a downward slide for two years now after the near-league victory two years back.
The fingers were pointed at the lack of creativity in the midfield following the departure of Alonso. In all fairness, Liverpool did have an exceptional season in 2008-09 when they scored 77 goals.
Last season Liverpool scored 61 goals which was blamed for Liverpool's dismal showing in the league. Lets look at the figures from the previous years and the number of goals scored by Liverpool and compare it with the league standing in that year:
2007-08 : 67 Goals (3rd)
2006-07 : 57 Goals (3rd)
2005-06 : 57 Goals (3rd)
So, 61 Goals in a season does not seem to be too bad comparing it with the three seasons prior to 2008-09 when each year the team managed to finish 3rd in the league. This year Liverpool have scored 27 in 22, owing mainly to the loss in form of Torres and the defensive tactics used by Roy for a major part of the season.
So, where did it all go wrong. Lets compare the corresponding figures for goals conceded and clean sheets. (GC = Goals Conceded , CS = Clean Sheets)
2009-10 : 35 GC - 17 CS
2008-09 : 27 GC - 20 CS
2007-08 : 28 GC - 18 CS
2006-07 : 27 GC - 20 CS
2005-06 : 25 GC - 22 CS
One can clearly see the difference in the goals conceded in the last season, which was somewhat greater than the previous seasons. This year, the defense seems to be in absolute turmoil with the team already conceding 31 goals in 22 games, which is more than the season totals in the previous five season barring the last one. Pepe also has managed only 6 clean sheets to date in 22 games and seems to be headed nowhere near the 15+ clean sheets he has always been able to manage since moving to Anfield.
Agreed, that goal-scoring has been a problem this year, but the bigger concern, going by the statistics seems to be the defense.
So, what changed in the last two years in the defense? Sami Hyypia was released from his contract, and Liverpool lost a great deal of experience as a result. Agreed that younger players were required in defense, but Liverpool could have done more to have that bit of extra experience in the dressing room, especially in the unforeseeable absence of Carragher due to injury this season.
Furthermore, Glen Johnson was bought from Portsmouth for a mammoth 17 million. He may be a England international, but he always has been better going forward than as a defender. His shortcomings in the defensive department has been exposed more than once in the last two years.
Daniel Agger, who is still highly rated as a center-back, has spent more time dealing with injuries than the opposition forwards and hence has not been able to make the impact that the team expected him to make.
Jamie Carragher, in spite of his age has been a leader in the defensive unit and was crucial in marshaling the defense. His injury this season has left the Martin Skrtel as the leader of the defense at center-back. Skrtel seems to be too ill-equipped as a defender against top forwards and the number of glaring mistakes he has made this season are unpardonable.
Kyrgiakos, to be fair to him was only a backup center-back and was called upon this season only due to the injuries to Agger and Carragher. He is good in the air but lacks the technique against top quality attacking units.
Liverpool had somehow managed with Aurelio and Insua at LB over the last two years following the departure of Riise but this year with Konchesky coming in and Aurelio still battling his injuries, the problem has been exploited by most teams.
Martin Kelly seems to be the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal picture for the Liverpool defensive unit. The form he has shown in the matches that he has played, has endeared this young lad to the Liverpool faithfuls already.
The glaring difference this year seems to be the departure of Javier Mascherano. He was the wall that often stood between the opposition midfield and the Liverpool defense. He was never shy of making those hard tackles and taking cautions from the referee for the team. Lucas, has tried to fill those boots for the team this season and has managed to put up some decent performances, but has been far too inconsistent to provide the kind of impact that Mascherano was able to make.
Liverpool have bought a young CB in Wilson from the Rangers but seems to be some years away from being a starter at Anfield.
So, Liverpool seems so in need of urgent enforcements in the defense if they want to get back on track . They need at-least two players, namely a LB and a CB to reinforce the squad. There have also been talks to bring in Van Bommel to fill up the void in the Defensive Midfielder department.
All the transfer talk or gossip has been focussed far too much on the attacking reinforcements. Hope that the owners and Kenny don't neglect the crisis in the defensive department as well, which seems to be a bigger problem and in more urgent need of new signings.
The position that the new owners and King Kenny find themselves in is not an enviable one. But all the Liverpool fans hope that they are well-equipped to help the great club to weather the storm and make the right decisions for the club.