Having shipped 49 goals this season and having the sixth worth defensive record in the Premier League, it is easy to point the finger at Brendan Rodgers’ back five as the reason that Liverpool are now highly likely to fall short with their title bid.
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have offered their insight into what is going especially wrong, ranging from a lack of leadership to willingly dropping too deep into their penalty box to invite extra pressure.
These points may well be true, but the defence could arguably profit from some added protection from the deepest midfield player too.
Rodgers has decided that the best way to incorporate Steven Gerrard is from the deepest role, where he gets more time on the ball to initiate attacks and isn’t required to drive forward frequently as a box-to-box midfielder.
However, picking Gerrard ahead of a more enforcer-type figure like Lucas Leiva also has its negatives, particularly with his defensive contribution.
He is not the most reliable in a positional sense, getting dragged too high up the field at times and not being close enough to his central defenders to help prevent danger.
Taking Fernandino, Nemanja Matic, Gareth Barry and Morgan Schneiderlin as comparisons, who all play from a similar starting position for their respective Premier League clubs, it can be observed where Liverpool are coming up short.
Of the five, Gerrard averages the fewest tackles per game in the top flight and also makes the fewest interceptions. Schneiderlin boasts the best figures on both counts.
The Liverpool skipper makes only 2.8 tackles per game and 1.4 interceptions, compared to 3.5 and 2.1 for Schneiderlin.
Furthermore, the job of the defensive midfielder is arguably to be a no-frills player, winning back the ball and distributing sensibly to provide the platform to allow more technical teammates to strut their stuff in the final third.
Only Matic has a lower pass completion rate than Gerrard of the quintet.
Gerrard is Liverpool’s heartbeat and inspiration, making it difficult to take the backwards step to that of the unsung hero, rather than the leader of men, something which Barry has generally excelled at.
Maybe the argument for next season is that Gerrard should start in games where Liverpool are certain to be on the front foot, but then be replaced by a more disciplined option after an hour, when Liverpool’s defence is put under more pressure.
Playing as Liverpool do now will only leave them open in the Champions League next season, while should Roy Hodgson adopt a similar system of using Gerrard at the World Cup, England could also be found wanting.
It is 6/5 that England fail to qualify from Group D at the World Cup.