It may not be the aspect of Liverpool’s new era that excites fans the most, but the club’s search for a manager that has been set could prove to be the wisest move made in this period of upheaval.

As he discovered This is Anfield earlier this week, the Reds are looking to add an expert in that field to Arne Slott’s staff before he takes over his first preseason.

Under Jurgen Klopp, setting up the pieces has largely been the responsibility of assistant coach Peter Krawietz, but this task will be expanded to full-time under the new regime.

The new addition will be asked to analyze opponents’ routines, create Liverpool’s own and work with players on all aspects of set-pieces, including direction and delivery.

It is clear that the club’s hierarchy have realized that they are a step behind in recognizing this aspect of the game as almost a separate sport, which would be extremely foolish to overlook.

Learning from rivals

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday 2 February 2020: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta pictured before the FA Premier League match between Barnley FC and Arsenal FC at Turf Moor.  (Image by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday 2nd February 2020: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta pictured before the FA Premier League match between Barnley FC and Arsenal FC at Turf Moor.  (Image by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is no better example of their importance than the Reds’ title rivals Arsenal, who benefited greatly from the work of dedicated manager Nicolas Jover last season.

The Gunners scored more goals from set pieces (20) than any other Premier League team and conceded the second fewest (seven), records that were instrumental in ensuring Manchester City reached the final day.

This was perfectly underlined by the 3-2 win at Tottenham at the end of April which was previously seen as a potential banana skin but ended up providing a vital confidence boost during the run-in.

Intriguingly, the consensus after the match seemed to be that Arsenal had blown away Tottenham and needed only to see off a late surge to claim the three points.

But the reality is that Mikel Arteta’s men were outshot (15-9) and smashed at xG (2.42-1.03), while the hosts saw a goal ruled out for marginal offside.

Yet for all this to be true, the game never felt one-sided in Tottenham’s favor or even close, and that was largely due to Arsenal scoring twice from early corners to give themselves a valuable cushion.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, that win and their many goals scored throughout the campaign didn’t end up being as valuable as they could have been, with the side they were in the title race with also quietly focused on excellence in that area.

Liverpool is not far

Arne Slot, Feyenoord (Getty Images, via UEFA Handout)Arne Slot, Feyenoord (Getty Images, via UEFA Handout)

Despite their fancy football, Man City were the third highest scorers (16) from such situations and were by far the strongest in defence, conceding just three last season.

Assistant manager Carlos Vicens is largely responsible for that, and Liverpool fans will be somewhat familiar with his work given the nature of John Stones’ first goal at Anfield in March.

So if it’s good enough for Man City and Arsenal, why not Liverpool?

In all fairness, it’s fair to mention that Jurgen Klopp’s side have by no means let up in this aspect during the 2023-24 season, finishing fourth in set goals scored and fifth in goals conceded (10).

But comparing those figures to their title rivals shows clear room for improvement, and it’s perhaps surprising it wasn’t sought earlier given the club’s reputation for thinking outside the box under FSG.

Still, belated or not, the appointment of a coach is a positive step and offers Slott an opportunity to make an early gain without lifting a finger.


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