Johnson is world class. There is no question about that. When in possession we morph into a 3-4-3 with Johnson playing a wing back. This is where our problem is.
Skrtel simply is not good enough to play in a 3-defensive-man scheme. Even though it's only momentarily, this is often where we are exploited. Agger has to do his job and cover for Skrtel in the case where he (or Carragher) don't fulfill their duty. Think Lukaku vs Carragher or Shane Long vs Skrtel. Both of those plays (one resulting in a red card) perfectly display our inability to defend with 3 at the back (somehow, neither play resulted in a goal) when either Skrtel or Carragher are isolated in one-on-one situations. Neither have the pace or positional awareness to win those battles like Agger has.
Furthermore, our defending on set pieces is simply atrocious and I have to think that has just been neglected in training because Rodgers is focusing on the system as much as he can.
Both of these (IMO) can be attributed to being in a possession-based system for the first time. It's a stark contrast to the way the defense and marking on set pieces were done last season. I have to imagine that we can only get better in these regards.
Regarding not finishing matches - it is completely expected. Obviously we would all prefer it not to happen, but the reality is we have an extremely young squad who have not developed a killer instinct yet. They don't yet know how to kick it into overdrive and grind out a close victory in a consistent manner. Winning is not an inherent trait. It is something that few individuals naturally have. For the rest of professional athletes, it is something you learn how to do through years of experience.
I do wish we had more natural winners. Mascherano, Carragher in his prime, Gerrard, Suarez, Kuyt. They would do anything, LITERALLY anything, it took to get 3 points. They would destroy their bodies for 90 straight minutes and lay everything they had on the line because losing is simply not an option.
This post was edited on 2/4 at 11:57 pm