Sloppiness at the back has cost two games in a week
Brendan Rodgers has warned his Liverpool players to sharpen up at set-pieces or they will be relegated to bench duty.
The Reds boss was left fuming by the manner in which Southampton and Manchester United were able to inflict back to back 1-0 defeats ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Sunderland.
Both goals came from corners with Saints’ Dejan Lovren and United’s Javier Hernandez punishing some sloppy defending.
With Liverpool adopting a man-to-man marking system this term, Rodgers says there are no excuses for those kind of errors and he expects to see an improvement at the Stadium of Light.
“To concede two goals like that in the past two games was bitterly disappointing and it cost us,” Rodgers said.
“It’s the one moment in the game where the ball is static. It’s you as an individual against another opponent.
“I felt coming in last year that we conceded some goals man-to-man so we went to zonal defending. But I prefer giving players responsibility so that everyone knows who they mark. Now it’s purely man to man.
“There are no grey areas with it. Everyone knows their job to do from corners. If you don’t do it then ultimately you suffer because you don’t play.
“We have been let down by us not doing our job in what is arguably the easiest part of the game.
“Sometimes when the ball is moving it can be difficult as you can lose track of your man when you are watching the ball. That sometimes happens, but when the ball is static you know where your opponent is.
“It’s not tactical or physical, it’s all about concentration – that is the biggest thing.
“That is one area of the game we have to be better at. It’s something we will address and improve upon.
“That one moment in the game at Old Trafford was the only negative but it cost us the tie.”
One defender who certainly can’t be held responsible for Liverpool’s failings over the past week is Martin Skrtel.
Rodgers was delighted with the Slovakian centre-back’s display against United and Skrtel is expected to keep his place for tomorrow’s clash with the Black Cats.
“I thought he was brilliant the other night,” the manager added.
“I called him into my office the other morning just to recognise his performance at Old Trafford.
“Martin defended crosses into the box, he was clever in his defending and very assured and composed on the ball. It’s great credit to his professionalism that when he wasn’t in the team he continued to work and was fighting every day to show he could play in the team.
“When you get your opportunity you need to grab the shirt and he has come in and done that.”