The Reds showed impressive resilence to triumph at St James Park, but their backline just isn’t good enough to sustain a title challenge
The quality of Darwin Nunez’s finishing in Sunday’s dramatic 2-1 win over Newcastle came as a welcome surprise – but the dreadful nature of the visitors’ defending was neither welcome nor a surprise. Pre-season offered a painful reminder of the brittle nature of the Reds’ backline and the start of the 2023-24 Premier League campaign has only hammered home the fact reinforcement is required before the close of the transfer window.
During his pre-match press conference, manager Jurgen Klopp had looked visibly frustrated by a question over whether Liverpool had sufficient strength in depth at the back to sustain a title challenge, but it was made abundantly clear at St James’ Park that the long-mooted arrival of a left-sided centre-back simply has to materialise next week – particularly now with Virgil van Dijk facing a suspension for a straight red card.
A solution also has to be found to the long-standing Trent Alexander-Arnold conundrum, with the right-back continuing to prove a liability in defence. Here, he gifted Anthony Gordon a goal that should have seen Newcastle go on to easily defeat a side that was reduced to 10 men just moments later.
That they did not is obviously testament to Liverpool’s character, manager and No.9. However, while the celebrations that followed the full-time whistle were totally justified, Nunez’s late double should not be allowed to paper over the cracks in Liverpool’s defence.