23 October 2014 16:54
Brendan Rodgers wants Liverpool to improve their poor defensive record, starting with Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Hull City.
Liverpool’s defensive frailties were arguably the reason they failed to win the title last season, as they conceded 50 goals in their 38 games while finishing runners-up to Manchester City.
The attacking potency of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge papered over the cracks for Rodgers as, with a tally of 52 top-flight strikes between them, they contributed more than half of Liverpool’s goal total and enabled the Merseyside club to outscore most opponents.
However, with Suarez now plying his trade for Barcelona and Sturridge having not played since August due to injury, Liverpool’s deficiencies at the back are costing them.
Rodgers’ side have conceded 12 goals in eight Premier League outings this term – with their sole clean sheet coming in a 3-0 win at Tottenham on August 31 – and suffered a chastening 3-0 UEFA Champions League defeat at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday.
And the Northern Irishman has urged all his players to take responsibility for making the team more resilient.
“It needs to be better as a team, not just the defence and goalkeeper,” he said in a press conference on Thursday.
“We pride ourselves on clean sheets but we need to be more competitive and aggressive in those moments as a team.
“In the goals we’ve conceded, a large number have been soft so our job is to improve that record and that’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
Visitors Hull come into this weekend’s game at Anfield on the back of a 2-2 draw at Arsenal last Saturday, and Rodgers has been impressed with the work done by opposite number Steve Bruce during the transfer window.
“He’s done an excellent job and he’s got some reinforcements in that have given them real depth to the squad,” he added.
“He’s building a squad and trying to bring in players with experience. They’ve got some players that can win the game for them so it will be a tough game for us but that’s what we would expect.”
One of those new arrivals is Uruguay international Abel Hernandez, who has three goals in five Premier League appearances and is eagerly awaiting the trip to Anfield.
“It is another exciting game to look forward to,” the striker said. “We are preparing this week and are working as hard as possible to be 100 per cent ready to play against a famous club with great players.
“I am really loving life with Hull City and am looking forward to us all taking the next step together.”
Hernandez may have to shoulder the majority of Hull’s goalscoring burden for the foreseeable future with regular strike partner Nikica Jelavic out for up to six weeks with a knee problem.
Defender Michael Dawson is out for a similar period of time with an ankle injury, and goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic is set for only his second Premier League start after Allan McGregor’s back-up Steve Harper tore a bicep tendon against Arsenal.
For the hosts, Sturridge remains sidelined with a calf complaint, while Mamadou Sakho tweeted on Wednesday to confirm that he would need 10 more days of treatment for a thigh injury.