An analysis in The Times from writer Tony Barrett, formerly of the Echo, looks at where Rafa Benitez’s defenders are going wrong as regards conceding weak goals at set pieces this season.
Thankfully though, Barrett does dispel the myth of zonal-marking not working:
The easiest explanation for Liverpool’s frailties from dead-ball situations is to lay the blame at the door of the zonal marking system deployed by Rafael Benítez, their manager. To do so, though, is simplistic in the extreme. Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona also tend to mark zones rather than players and this did not stop them winning the Champions League last season.
Although a highly critical article, Barrett makes some good points about Liverpool not exercising the positive effects zonal marking can bring. We’re not getting to the ball first, or creating a big enough physical presence in the box, he says.
For those critics of our zonal-marking system, it’s worth remembering that it has worked for his in the very recent past, priding ourselves on one of the best defensive records in the country over the last three seasons. Barrett adds:
Zonal marking falls into the Marmite category: loved by its champions, hated by its critics. It should not be forgotten that in three of the past four seasons, Reina has kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League and Liverpool’s defensive record under Benítez has stood comparison to that of anyone else in the division.
Meanwhile The Independent reports good news this morning with a set target date of October 17th for new £18million midfielder Alberto Aquilani’s debut for Liverpool. A quick look at the fixture list and that would be our away trip to Sunderland – a week before the Man United match. Ian Herbert writes:
Sources close to Aquilani suggest the midfielder, who made only 14 appearances for Roma last season because of the injury, has found the break a useful part of the settling in process.