Liverpool: Steve Nicol claims Reds’ defense can no longer cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold


Liverpool legend Steve Nicol admitted the Reds’ surprising 2-1 defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United Sunday was concerning for their top-two chances this season. 

Jadon Sancho fired Erik ten Hag’s side ahead in the 16th minute before Marcus Rashford doubled the lead early in the second-half.

Mohamed Salah clawed a goal back for Klopp in the 81st minute but Liverpool were not able rescue a point, dropping to 16th in the Premier League table with just two points.

Liverpool legend Steve Nicol admitted the Reds’ 2-1 defeat to Man United is ‘concerning’

Jadon Sancho found the bottom corner to fire Manchester United ahead in the 16th minute

Jadon Sancho found the bottom corner to fire Manchester United ahead in the 16th minute

Marcus Rashford just kept onside as he broke free of the Red's defense and fired United 2-0 up

Marcus Rashford just kept onside as he broke free of the Red’s defense and fired United 2-0 up

It is the worst start to a Premier League season for the Reds in 10 years and last season’s runners-up already sit five points behind reigning champions Manchester City. 

However, former Red Nicol insisted Liverpool cannot write off a top-four finish but did admit the side’s poor performance on Monday is ‘concerning’ for their title push. 

‘You can’t turn around and say they’re not going to make it into the top four,’ Nicol claimed on ESPN FC following the game. 

However, when pushed on whether he believed a top-two finish was still in Liverpool’s grasp, he did concede he had his doubts as he replied: ‘It’s a little concerning. 

Mohamed Salah clawed one back for Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp's side looked to rescue the loss

Mohamed Salah clawed one back for Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp’s side looked to rescue the loss

Steve Nicol admitted the poor performance on Monday is 'concerning' for the Reds' title push

Steve Nicol admitted the poor performance on Monday is ‘concerning’ for the Reds’ title push

‘It’s one thing to lose a game by being unfortunate, it’s another to lose a game and have a lot of the fundamentals so badly wrong. 

‘The things I’m talking about, defensively in particular. Can you imagine Haaland running in behind that backline? Holy smokes. Talk about worrying. 

‘But once they get the basics sorted out, they’ve got talent can’t argue with that. So they’ve got to sort the basics out and quickly.’

Roberto Firmino started as a No. 9 in the absence of suspended Darwin Nunez after the Reds lost Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich this summer. 

The Senegal star has three goals in three wins for the Bundesliga side while his former side has yet to clinch three points in their stuttering start to the season. 

The former Red insisted that Klopp's side were not missing former star forward Sadio Mane

The former Red insisted that Klopp’s side were not missing former star forward Sadio Mane

However, Nicol insisted that Mane’s Anfield exit is not the cause of the Reds’ woes. 

When asked if he would admit Liverpool were missing Mane, Nicol hit back saying: ‘Because it’s a bad start, it’s because of Mane? 

‘Mane wasn’t playing center half was he? Or right back? Or center mid? If Mane was playing today he wouldn’t have seen the ball either. He wouldn’t have got a kick either.’

But co-pundit Don Hutchison disagreed as he claimed United would have been terrified if Mane had been at Old Trafford.  

He said: ‘I think it’s one of them where if Mane’s there tonight, and it was Diaz, Mane as a No. 9, Salah that would have scared the life out of Man United. 

The Senegal star left Anfield to join Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich this summer

The Senegal star left Anfield to join Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich this summer

‘The fact that Firmino was playing there they could push a little higher up the pitch. They wouldn’t have been that high up the pitch with Mane running in behind. 

‘It’s one of those when Liverpool lose, “Oh, they should have kept Mane”, when they win 6-0, “don’t need Mane”.’

Nicol believed Liverpool’s defeat was not due to the absence of one former Red but rather the defensive woes of a current player. 

He slammed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ‘attempt’ to defend Sancho in the build up to United’s opener and claimed Liverpool’s backline can no longer cover for the right back. 

‘We’re not telling Klopp anything he doesn’t know,’ he began. ‘But what Klopp is doing is he’s basically saying to himself “you know what we get so much from this kid going forward that we’re gonna have to take on the chin what he doesn’t have defensively”. 

Nicol slammed Trent Alexander-Arnold's poor defensive skills in the defeat

Nicol claimed manager Klopp overlooked the right back's defensive woes

Nicol claimed Liverpool manager Klopp (right) took Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive woes on the chin as the right back offers ‘so much’ for the side going forward 

‘And that was okay when the other three were at their best. They made up for him. But it’s every game now, there’s problems down that side and they’re finding it hard to cover for him now. Nobody has been able to cover for him. He can’t do it.

‘I mean you saw his attempt to try and deal with a one-two, there wasn’t any commitment in it whatsoever. He jogged back into the middle of the park. Now had he sprinted into the penalty box, he might have actually got a challenge on Sancho but he didn’t, he walked.

‘Defending is not his forte. We know it, Klopp knows it but Klopp is prepared to take the negative because of what he gets going forward.’

The Reds host newly-promoted Bournemouth at Anfield next weekend as their search for their first win of the season continues. 



Source link