Liverpool must refine Plan A attack after being held by Southampton, says Gary Neville
Last Updated: 09/05/17 8:37am
Gary Neville explained on Monday Night Football what Liverpool must do differently to break down opposition teams which defend deep against them.
Liverpool's top-four hopes took a hit on Sunday when they were held to a goalless draw at home by Southampton.
It was the third Anfield fixture in a row in which Liverpool have dropped points to teams below them in the table, after drawing with Bournemouth and losing to Crystal Palace.
So what's the problem? Sky Sports pundit Neville says the Reds are struggling to break down away teams which sit deep against them because they're not making the key attacking runs they were earlier this season.
Neville picked out examples on Monday Night Football of Liverpool full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner in possession but without options ahead of them in wide areas against Southampton. Without runs from Liverpool's attackers or midfielders into the corners, Southampton's defensive line was not disrupted and shut down the full-backs' options.
"Over the last two or three months - maybe longer than that - teams that sit back against Liverpool make it very difficult for them," he explained.
"Their Achilles' heel is they can't beat the lesser teams at home. Teams that come out against them and are expansive, they're ok because they can play the combinations and they're quick on the break.
"We've talked about whether they need a Plan B. But maybe actually they need to improve on Plan A because they've stopped doing something. They're isolating their full-backs on the ball.
"The wide right of midfield and wide right centre forward have to make runs into the corner to clear the centre-back and the full-back, to shift them.
"Myself and Jamie [Carragher] could have played a lot of that game as centre-backs for Southampton because they weren't shifted. As soon as you start moving centre-backs, moving defenders they have a big problem. When Liverpool are at their best they do that.
They've got to start making those runs again because when they don't they become static, they become safe, they become predictable and to me that's the problem at the moment.
"Clear the space, open up the channels - they've stopped doing it. They're being far too safe.
"[When they do it] all of a sudden it opens everything up. All of a sudden Milner is playing, they're involved in the game, the combinations can begin, they've shifted the whole defence across and they're looking for an overload in the centre.
"Liverpool, by the nature of the club, the nature of the team, they'll always come up against inferior teams who will come and defend deep. They've got to do Plan A better.
"They've got to start making those runs again because when they don't they become static, they become safe, they become predictable and to me that's the problem at the moment. They're isolating the full-backs far too often in the game and taking the safe option."