Football: Liverpool can't cut corners, says Jordan Henderson

Simon Mignolet is beaten at his near post by Olivier Giroud's (left) poke from a corner during the recent draw with Arsenal. The Liverpool 'keeper has been handed a new contract despite the odd scrappy performance.
Simon Mignolet is beaten at his near post by Olivier Giroud's (left) poke from a corner during the recent draw with Arsenal. The Liverpool 'keeper has been handed a new contract despite the odd scrappy performance.PHOTO: REUTERS

Henderson urges Reds to be fully focused to avoid conceding sloppy goals from set-pieces

LONDON • As Liverpool prepare to host fourth-tier Exeter City in their third-round FA Cup replay today, they need no reminders that extra focus is required when defending corners. But they will get one from Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson anyway.

He called on his team-mates to up their concentration as opponents target a persistent weakness in Juergen Klopp's side.

Wayne Rooney's late winner for Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday was the seventh goal Liverpool have conceded from a corner this season, more than any other Premier League team.

And, in the Reds' 2-2 draw with Exeter on Jan 9, Liverpool's back-up goalkeeper Adam Bogdan conceded directly from Lee Holmes' corner.

Five days later, Arsenal's second goal in the 3-3 draw at Anfield also came from a set-piece.

NEED FOR QUICK REACTION

We conceded a sloppy goal at a set-piece against Arsenal and against United, it was a good header. We need to react to second balls and be first to them. Maybe we need to be more concentrated.

JORDAN HENDERSON, Liverpool captain, on their shortcomings in set-pieces.

Klopp has demanded defensive improvement as Liverpool seek to avoid conceding from set-pieces for the fourth game in succession.

Henderson believes concentration, not organisation, is at the root of the flaw.

The midfielder, one of four players beaten in the air by Marouane Fellaini for Rooney's goal, said: "I am sure teams will look at that. We have to make sure we are fully concentrated and defending set-pieces well and stop conceding. We put a lot of work into it on the training field.

"It is disappointing. We conceded a sloppy goal at a set-piece against Arsenal and against United, it was a good header.

"We need to react to second balls and be first to them.

"Maybe we need to be more concentrated, I don't know, but we need to keep going on to the next game and play well."

Liverpool selected a side with an average age of 22 for their last meeting with Exeter, with just 34 first-team appearances among them, of which 21 came from striker Christian Benteke.

Klopp has already hinted that he could pick another under-strength line-up for the replay due to injury problems and fixture congestion.

No matter who the Reds' boss selects, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale is ready to go for an unlikely victory.

"There's no point us going into the game expecting to lose. We have to spin every positive we can," he told the BBC.

"I think we've just got to go into the game believing that it's possible and (have) no fear, just play, and see what happens."

Ahead of the tie, Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has been handed a new deal in a strong vote of confidence by the Reds.

He has missed just three Premier League games since 2013, making 122 appearances since he signed from rivals Sunderland.

However, Klopp has had to defend him this season, after occasionally scrappy performances by the Belgian.

Details of the deal were not announced, but it is understood that the extension would keep Mignolet at Anfield for a further five years until 2021.

"I am very pleased that I can be at Anfield and a part of Liverpool for a long future," the 27-year-old told the club website after signing the deal on Monday.

"I know with a long-term contract you get more responsibility - and I want to take up that role because I'm the sort of character that wants to be a leader, wants to speak in the dressing room and wants to help the defence."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'LIVERPOOL CAN'T CUT CORNERS: CAPTAIN'. Print Edition | Subscribe