Liverpool have now conceded the same number of goals as Everton.
The Merseyside neighbours have both conceded 28 times this term in the Premier League and face off at Anfield on Monday in the second derby of the season.
Both sides are struggling having picked up just four points each in their last five outings, but the Toffees will make the short trip across Stanley Park filled with confidence following their 1-0 win over leaders Arsenal last weekend under new manager Sean Dyche.
By comparison, Liverpool will be looking for a reaction after a 3-0 loss away to Wolves. It was their third defeat in their last four Premier League matches and in each of those defeats they have been breached on three occasions.
The Reds have conceded more goals this season than they did in the entirety of the 2021/22 campaign.
What was once an impenetrable defence is now porous. Jurgen Klopp has tried a variety of things to shore things up, from different systems to putting his faith in individuals who usually wouldn’t be in his starting XI.
Nothing he’s done has seemed to work.
Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in their last ten Premier League matches and, as a result, find themselves rooted in mid-table.
Klopp has put an extra focus on ensuring his team are compact over recent weeks having shifted the Reds into a mid-block press with Thiago, Stefan Bajcetic and Naby Keita in midfield.
Despite the extra onus being on not conceding, the 2019/20 Premier League champions continue to give up easy chances. Wolves, for example, racked up an Expected Goals total of 2.89 in the 3-0 win.
While the opening goal didn’t count towards this total, it did highlight the issue with Klopp’s side right now.
Wolves have easy possession in their own half before Craig Dawson fires a pass into Nelson Semedo on the touchline.
The right-back carries the ball forward before playing a pass into the space behind Andrew Robertson for Pablo Sarabia to run onto. This drags Joe Gomez over into the channel.
You can see the defensive four and the midfield three highlighted above.
Gomez eventually forces the January signing backwards and the ball is played to Ruben Neves. We then see the above scenario.
Gomez hasn’t been able to retreat into his normal position just yet and none of the midfielders are out quick enough to block off the clipped pass.
Hwang Hee-chan attacks the space that was vacated by the Liverpool No2 and he then finds himself with possession of the ball inside the box.
His pass takes a huge deflection off of Joel Matip before hitting the post and crossing the line.
If Gomez isn’t in the position he should be in, there should be pressure on the man in possession to stop the ball from being played forward.
If the plan is to clog things up centrally then the Liverpool centre-back needs to be sprinting back into his area as soon as the ball is played back to the Wolves skipper.
Now, let's compare and contrast that with how Everton defended against Arsenal.
Dyche has previously appeared on the Coaches Voice and he was talking about Burnley’s 1-0 win over Liverpool.
When breaking down his defensive plan, he highlighted how he wanted his team to be compact and crunched. There’s a particular section in that video where he talks about how his team cover the central area of the penalty area, the high-value zone.
Within that section, Dyche explains that when one of the full-backs has to engage with a winger, the other three in defence will block that central part.
The former Burnley boss managed to drill this into his team in less than a week. The Toffees executed it perfectly against the league leaders, limiting them to an xG of just 0.76.
In the situation above, Bukayo Saka has threatened to attack left-back Vitalii Mykolenko. Alex Iwobi has come over to support the full-back, blocking off any pass inside.
Away from the ball, you can clearly see both centre-backs and the right-back are fairly narrow and protecting the centre of the penalty area.
Here’s the key part though.
As soon as Saka plays that ball inside to Ben White, Mykolenko and Iwobi both leave the Arsenal No7 to get back into shape.
Everton allow the right-back to carry the ball forward but their compactness means there aren’t any real passes on into feet in central areas.
The No4 eventually floats the ball out to the Arsenal left and this move ends with Oleksandr Zinchenko passing the ball into the arms of Jordan Pickford.
If Mykolenko lingers near Saka then there’s a pass into Martin Odegaard who would’ve been positioned between the centre-back and the full-back.
If Amadou Onana steps up too soon to engage with White then there’s time and space for Odegaard in that pocket to turn and face Everton’s goal.
The Toffees all knew what their job was defensively. Once they did it, they would get back into their shape.
Liverpool didn’t have that level of organisation against Wolves and it cost them.
Above is the Arsenal shot map against Everton.
The hosts protected the high-value, central areas and didn’t allow any shots from them.
Below is the Wolves shot map against Liverpool. Plenty of high-probability opportunities from dangerous zones.
Everton are going to set up to frustrate Liverpool at Anfield with the hope of hurting them during counters and via set pieces.
It is the same plan most teams look to use against the Reds now but few are as well-versed as Dyche at executing it.
Klopp needs to channel his inner Dyche to ensure the Reds don’t give up easy opportunities and make life even more difficult for themselves.