Liverpool's loss to Aston Villa stemmed from team-wide dysfunction, but it's the defensive mishaps that we should be most concerned with. The attack has proven that it can deliver on a regular basis, but defensive errors have been a problem for the Reds for years. Is it the personnel? The system? Bad luck? Most likely it's a combination of all three of those things.
Brendan Rodgers said after the Villa game, "We have to defend better, that's where it starts. Just defend, don't try and be clever, don't try to play, just defend and don't let them have the set-piece. Then, when the ball comes in the box, we lose the first duel. We were a bit unlucky with the ball bouncing off [Javier] Manquillo but we didn't start well. They could have scored more from set-pieces. [Philippe] Senderos had a free header."
I find that to be an interesting remark because it counters how Rodgers likes the team to play. He often preaches the importance of versatility and fluidity even in the defense, which makes the "just defend" line sound a bit odd. His main point though is that Liverpool have to play with more awareness and focus, which has been his go to line for a while when remarking on defensive issues. There's not much else he can really tell the media, but nonetheless it's frustrating to hear the same message over and over during his tenure without seeing much improvement in how Liverpool defend.
Rodgers also said, "They lost their marker too easily in the box. When you let the opponent get the first contact that's what can happen. It was unfortunate, and Lovren is a wonderful defender, strong and aggressive, but we have to do better in that situation. The worst-case scenario should be that when we have days when we're not creative with the ball, then we get a point and move on. That's the disappointing thing because we didn't and it is important for us."
He's right that the continued mistakes are extremely disappointing, especially because they seem so avoidable. The only thing fans can do is wait for improvement, even if that means enduring more infuriating moments such as the ones we witnessed against Villa. Eventually it has to turn around. Right?