Defence is a worry for Kaboul

Are you feeling confident? An improved performance against Arsenal, fight against Benfica and Southampton, do they bode well for today?

Liverpool ripped Arsenal apart, Liverpool rip teams apart, especially at Anfield. Our defence is woeful, against Southampton it was relegation standard fare, hardly surprising when the two full-backs are not good enough and a centre-back going through the motions.

Younes Kaboul had a poor game against Southampton making mistakes he would not normally make. He has ended up trying to do everything himself. Now I'm sorry people but Kaboul's performance was as a result of the people he had around him. There errors create errors in him because he has to worry about covering for them, in exactly the same way it has affected Michael Dawson.

Defence is a worry for Kaboul


But it is not just your defensive partners errors that affect a players game. It is extremely difficult not to make mistakes when you are having to do extra work, extra thinking, constantly making extra decisions that normally you wouldn't have to worry about and are usually automatic routine.

Take cricket. A batsman practices a particular shot over and over again so that it becomes automatic. They will often get something like 0.6 seconds (six tenths) in which to make his decision of what shot to play. As soon as the player has decided what shot to play, autonomy takes over. The body automatically does what it is trained to do, they plays the shot in the same way, with the same foot movement because it is routine.

There are times in football when with decent players around you, you know what is going to happen, you know what they are going to do, you can rely on them, thus your movement, your positioning becomes automatic, easy, you are not having to think about it and can concentrate on other factors.

However if you have defenders where you are expecting them to get beaten, expecting them to make mistakes, expect them to be out of position, then your job becomes doubly difficult. You constantly have a multitude of extra decisions to make and worry about. You have to constantly be telling them what they should be doing and when you are worrying about other players games you are not 100% concentrating on your own. Under those circumstances, under that stress mistakes will occur, it's inevitable. Mental fatigue kicks in later in the game as well as physical and thus more mistakes occur.

Last season our defence was a shambles until Michael Dawson came back into it. We then went a long unbeaten run for months. Our defence tightened up, players no longer had to worry about conceding goals and the knock on effect was improved performances from the team as a whole.

That was all a direct result of playing not having to worry about always conceding a goal anymore, they could concentrate on their own games and Spurs benefited as a result. The mental side of sport is the most important element and the most overlooked by supporters. That is understandable, afterall they have never had to experience it themselves, visualisation and mental preparation play no part in fun football.

I spoke at the beginning of the season that if Danny Rose played in defence we would not qualify for the Champions League. He is short of the class required and the errors he makes have a knock on effect across the back-four. When you then throw into the mix other players not up to the standard then you start to see mistakes occurring more frequently from your dependable players.

It has been a tough season for Walker and Dawson having to carry the left side of our defence for much of the season. You would have thought by now we would have closed the gaping hole we have there but no it remains as wide as ever. You have to question whether Danny Rose has learnt anything this season because his positional play has not improved one iota, he still leaves a yawning gap between himself and the left sided centre-back.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will operate in that area today and they are the best pairing in the Premier League right now. Defeat is on the cards, with a potent attack and a defence in disarray it is hard to envisage anything else, the question is what size will the defeat be.

We can draw on the form of Eriksen and Chadli to offer a glimmer of hope but the Liverpool stats this season that I produced in an earlier article make for worrying reading. At Anfield Suarez and Sturridge score virtually all the goals.

We can either try to do what other teams have failed to do which is to score early and try to hang on or try to keep it to 0-0 for as long as possible, waiting for an opening as they push on. We have pace in Lennon to counter-attack but we don't get the ball to him anywhere quick enough for him to run at anyone.

Consistently we have a woeful half, we are slow starters some would say. It smacks of not caring more likely, it smacks of make it up as you go along, of no coherent system being in place. In we have a woeful first-half Liverpool will be out of sight, they are dominant in the first 45 minutes.

Kaboul and his defenders have to have the confidence of the players in front of them and be confident of the players in front of them. At the moment neither looks the case, it looks to be a case of muddle through. If we sit back and defend we can defend as we showed against Chelsea but if we concede playing that way then it's game over.

Against top teams we don't score and we create very little. The fact that we don't create puts even more added pressure on the defence as one mistake could cost three points. Making a mistake up front will mean you get another chance later, that doesn't always apply to the defender, one mistake could be fatal, mental strength is a must.

You can be the prettiest footballer in the world but if you don't have mental strength as a defender you will always remain a potential liability to your team. Dawson takes a lot of stick, some quite justified, but he has the mental strength and thus makes the most of what he can do. If those around him had the same mental strength we would be in the top four now.

Not conceding in the first-half is a must, then the pressure will start to mount on them and who knows what can happen then. It is going to take a top performance and is a game the players will be up for, they know this is a potential embarrassment waiting to happen if they simply go through the motions.




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