Have Liverpool got the worst defence in the Premier League?

It’s been a mixed bag in the Premier League so far this season for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The Reds have been on the receiving end of some criticism following some suspect defending, but is it justified?

Klopp’s men have only lost two of their ten Premier League games so far this season, and those losses were to the high-flying Man City and Spurs. Although an aggregate score of 9-1 for those two losses suggests that when Liverpool lose, they tend to lose big. However, on a more positive note, the Reds have managed to keep four clean sheets, which is as many as Chelsea.

So how bad are Liverpool in defence?

Liverpool have conceded 16 Premier League goals in their ten games so far this season. Watford, Stoke, West Ham, Everton and Palace have all conceded more goals than Liverpool in the same amount of games.

Although Liverpool have enjoyed an average of 60.4% possession this season, whereas Watford, Stoke, West Ham, and Palace are all averaging less than 50% possession. You might expect teams who spend more time in possession to concede fewer goals as, in theory, they have less defending to do. For example, Liverpool have enjoyed 204 more minutes in possession than Stoke so far this season. That means the Potters have had to do 3 hours defending more than Liverpool.

The table below shows how many goals each Premier Team has conceded in total this season, and how many minutes without possession each team averages between goals conceded.

Rank Club Goals
  Rank Club Mins per Goal Conceded without Possession
1 C Palace 21 1 Liverpool 23.5
2 Everton 20 2 Everton 23.7
3 Stoke 20 3 C Palace 24.3
4 West Ham 19 4 West Ham 25.7
5 Watford 18 5 Arsenal 26.8
6 Liverpool 16 6 Watford 27.0
7 B’mouth 14 7 Stoke 29.0
8 Leicester 14 8 B’mouth 34.7
9 Arsenal 13 9 S’hampton 38.4
10 Huddersfield 13 10 Huddersfield 39.8
11 West Brom 13 11 Leicester 40.0
12 Swansea 12 12 Swansea 43.9
13 Brighton 11 13 Man City 45.1
14 S’hampton 10 14 Chelsea 45.2
15 Chelsea 10 15 West Brom 47.0
16 Newcastle 9 16 Brighton 48.5
17 Burnley 9 17 Tottenham 53.3
18 Tottenham 7 18 Newcastle 54.9
19 Man City 6 19 Burnley 60.9
20 Man Utd 4 20 Man Utd 105.9

So it’s bad news for the scousers as Everton and Liverpool appear to have the least reliable defence in the league when they aren’t in possession. Liverpool fans might suggest that this is no great surprise as opposing teams are more likely to adopt a counter-attacking strategy against the bigger clubs like Liverpool, particularly away from home.

Man City have only conceded six goals this season, which is the second least in the league so far. However, as they average 72% possession in each game, without the ball they actually concede goals more regularly than seven other teams including West Brom, Newcastle and Burnley.

Perhaps Man City’s dominance in the league thus far demonstrates that sometimes attack is the best form of defence.

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