Rafa's Reds have lost the plot at the set-piece

BY foxsports • September 21, 2009

Albert Einstein once said: 'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'

I'm tempted to ask Liverpool boss, Rafa Benitez, what he's thinking when it comes to his team defending set pieces. Since the Spaniard moved from Valencia to Anfield, the major Achilles heel has been their inability to stop the one play in football that has an air of predictability about it.

downlevel descriptionThis video requires the Adobe Flash Player. Download a free version of the player.

To date Liverpool have conceded goals on set plays against Tottenham, Aston Villa, Bolton and most recently, West Ham.

Twice it has cost them victories and when you consider that the Merseysiders only lost two league matches in all of last season, this has got to be a tactical consideration that must be addressed, especially as the club moves into European play.

Benitez believes in zonal marking at set plays and he also doesn't position players on the posts at corners. His defensive leaders, Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel are supposedly taking charge of the penalty area and yet week-after-week opposing players are finding space where they can create havoc and score goals.

Surely by now it must be obvious to Benitez that he should use the tried and test method of man-to-man marking? It doesn't get any simpler: there is your man, stop him from getting to the ball. End of story and the end of Liverpool defenders looking at each other wondering what happened as once again the ball ends up in the back of the net.

In all honesty, I'm surprised that senior players like Steven Gerrard and Carragher haven't yet said: 'Boss, we need to change the system.'

There is a major hurdle to cross if this is to happen because if Rafa were to climb down, it would entail eating a not-so-small portion of humble pie. The Spaniard is way too stubborn to admit failure in this department though, so Liverpool will soldier on and continue to put themselves in danger of losing matches they should win comfortably.

With a thrilling victory over West Ham on Saturday, Benitez will point to the table and say to the assembled media corps that they should focus on the result. Good point, but this is yet another victory that I believe papers over cracks. Liverpool have not looked 100% in either the defensive or offensive departments this season.