A worrying consequence of Liverpool’s five preseason-friendly matches is the number of goals they have leaked. 15 goals conceded translate to more than two goals average per game netted by the opposing team.
Whilst they have scored three more than they have conceded, their lack of defensive prowess highlights one of the major concerns that Liverpool supporters have, of mounting a serious challenge this season.
In the second half of the 2010/11 campaign, Pepe Reina and his back four scored a consistent and inspired run of low-conceding results.
One startling statistic that emerged was the number of games Liverpool lost by more than one goal. At a total of seven, a similar occurrence this season would do Liverpool no favours in their renewed ambitions. And with a side that could still be finding their feet in attacking ability, it would do them well to begin the campaign with a stubbornly effective defence.
The impending signing of Newcastle defender Jose Enrique may quell some of the concerns about Liverpool’s back four. It is also worth noting that the majority of comfortable defeats last season occurred whilst Roy Hodgson was in charge.
West Ham enacted a similar fate under Dalglish. No such result was thrust upon Liverpool at Anfield until agonizingly in the penultimate game of the season. The Spurs won 2-0 and reclaimed fifth place in the table.
Optimistically the team under Dalglish rapidly increased the number of wins by more than one goal to a final tally of 11. With Suarez replacing Fernando Torres in attack and the likes of Dirk Kuyt now a formidable striking force, it is likely that the goalscoring nature of the side will be dramatically lifted.
It is in the games where Liverpool struggles to break the deadlock that the outcomes of the season may occur. In fixtures against Spurs and Manchester City last season they failed to deliver in their attacking play. Similarly their fixture against West Ham showed the side in complete contrast and disarray to their match-winning heroics against Top 4 opposition.
A 3-0 defeat to Hull was the lowest point of their preseason fixtures. This sort of result will not be accepted once the competition begins.
A balance seems to be lacking in preseason action. The hope is that once the season starts against Sunderland,that Liverpool will be able to shut the door on opposition goals and strike up a regular mix of goalscoring and creative discipline to win matches.
If so then they can ensure that a healthier goal difference will be an aid and not a hindrance to end-season calculations.