Itís also how the other team plays against you. Better teams still try and play football and commit players forward. It gives us the chance to counter press, win back possession high up the pitch and attack a team before they are set defensively. Thatís what has happened against Spurs and Arsenal recently.
Against the dross, they defend deep and go long to a target man to gain a territorial advantage. They donít necessarily commit 6-7 players forward with an attack and they tend to keep their defensive shape more. That works against us because it negates the counter press - in general, they just donít have the ball long enough to get it back and even if we do get it high up they pitch they normally still have their back 4 and 2 holding midfielders in position to defend. That makes it harder for us to create opportunities against the dross compared to the top 6 teams who in general will come and try to beat you by playing football (United excluded).
Our 2nd problem, is that we donít consistently deal well with teams who go long. For me, too often teams find it easy to get out and get territorial advantage off the back of playing long ball to a target man. Llorente was a brilliant out ball for Swansea in the league. Dicko was for Wolves in the FA Cup. This. Firstly stops us keeping pressure up on teams. The more we keep the ball in their half then the more chance weíll score - though we need to be be more patient (Coutinho is the biggest culprit here by the way). Secondly, as soon as teams get it to their target man then only need a few players to support to him and itís a counter attack. We push both full backs forward on occasions and have relatively immobile centre halves (in Matip, Lucas and Klavan). It makes us vulnerable to a any quick transition. Thatís why for me Henderson is absolutely vital if you play a single man sitting in the midfield 3. Our other weakness is defending set pieces. If you are a lower to mid table team, your bunch of groks will always fancy their chances against us. We got a small full back in Clyne, 3 fellas who arenít great in the air upfront and Lallana as a midfielder. It probably the reason weíll continue to see the likes of Can and Henderson in midfield, and not the deep lying play maker a section of our fans pine for.
Whilst I think we have some problems breaking teams down, itís compounded by our inability to consistently dominate the opposition forward. Having a centre back who is aerially dominant but also lightening quick would make a massive difference in these games. Thatís easier said than done though. The other thing that could be done is have a 2nd player in the front 3 who is comfortable staying wide. Part of our attacking philosophy is to have the full backs provide width and the wide forward to drift inside. Against teams who park the bus, they defend deep but also narrow. They let our full backs in essence have the ball. We end up putting cross after cross into the box from 20-30 yards out from goal. Crosses that are going into 3 lads who arenít great in the air. We either need an amazing attacking left back or someone, who can play on the left forward position and stretch the play. The other option is that you buy a aerially dominate centre forward who you can play in these type of games. In hindsight, Benteke would have been more useful to us this season than Sturridge. A forward like this would also help you defend set pieces better. Maybe Origi could be this player in the long run.
Fair dues for the post mate.
Second paragraph spot on. There is no point, for us, at the moment, in having the ball and playing slowly in front of a narrow, packed defence which is what we tend to end up doing. Actually there is almost no point in us having the ball at times. As for wafting chipped. paceless crosses into a redless box ..... don't get me started.
As we are now, till the end of the season, what can we do ?
1 - We need to take more risks, play quick passes in and around the box and follow up on the break down, i.e gegenpress in their box, let's call it the " fast-paced swarm suffocation chaos" method.
2 - Secondly we need to take people on in the box, Klyne, PC, Bobby, Mane, Lallana, Moreno (worth a shot in these types of games), just dribble in the box. You succeed, you are in, chaos ensues. You get fouled then it's a spotter (which we are no longer getting folks). The ball breaks ? Then apply the FPSSC method (see point 1).
The key is quick thinking and quick acting, taking risks and trusting ourselves. This will also just burn the opposition heads.
We are mind numbingly, habitually, one-paced and dull in the pattern we adapt against the bus parkers.
(I'd love to take the credit for original thinking here but I am paraaphrasing what i heard on the AI "Under Pressure" post Leicester podcast, it was painful but interesting listening.)