Sunday, August 18, 2019

Have Liverpool finally sorted their defensive problems?

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 7 Mar 2018

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Since Jurgen Klopp has been Liverpool boss in 2015, his team have received criticism for the number of goals they concede. His side were always very good going forward and at scoring goals.

However, at times they left holes in the backline, which has really cost the Reds a chance of realistically challenging for the Premier League title. The criticisms of the Merseysiders defence are justified.

Defensive displays improving

Things look to be on the up at the minute when it comes to the Reds defensive displays. Liverpool’s goalless draw against Porto on Tuesday night in the Champions League last 16 second leg was the fifth time in seven games that Klopp’s side have kept a clean sheet.

In those seven games in all competitions, Liverpool have conceded just two goals. For any team in any league that is a decent record. For a team like Liverpool whose defence has come for such criticism, it is a very good record.

We have talked about the Reds producing improved defensive displays in the past. However, they then usually go on to endure a nightmare few games, where they concede a boatload of goals and then it is back to the drawing board.

Van Dijk and Robertson have made a difference

At the start of the campaign, most observers knew that the Reds needed a new centre-back and a new left-back. However, it was only in the last few months that those problems seem to have been solved.

Liverpool bought Andy Robertson from relegated-Hull City in the summer for £8million. The Scotland international has impressed in a very poor Tigers team last season. He looked comfortable in the Premier League.

Robertson started just two of the first 14 league games of the season. However, since December the impressive full-back has missed just one Premier League game. The Scottish star looks a bargain and he must now be the Reds undisputed first-choice left-back.

Virgil van Dijk finally arrived on Merseyside for a club-record fee of £75million in January from Southampton. The Reds previous attempts to sign Van Dijk failed, but the south coast club agreed to sell the defender.

After a shaky start to his Reds career, the big Dutch defender has gone back into Rolls Royce mode. He has started to look like a defender worth £75million if of course, any footballer is worth £75million.

The former Celtic defender is certainly an upgrade on the other centre-backs at the Merseyside club. He also comes across as a natural leader, a quality missing in the defenders at Liverpool.

However, reports suggest that the Merseysiders are looking at signing Tottenham centre-back Toby Alderweireld this summer. A partnership of Van Dijk and Alderweireld seems like a formidable one.

With the quality available in the Reds forward line, it may just take one key defensive signing for Klopp’s team to become genuine title contenders.

A big test on Saturday

Liverpool’s newfound defensive solidity will face a stern test on Saturday lunchtime, as the Reds face a trip to arch-rivals Manchester United, a game they are 13/8 to win.

No doubt, Klopp’s side are underdogs in the clash. However, their front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah would trouble any defence in the league.

How United boss Jose Mourinho sets up his team could be the key to how the game goes on Saturday. The Portuguese boss has a habit of parking the bus. If they do park the bus then Liverpool’s defence may be in for a quiet afternoon.

However, if the Red Devils boss decides to attack the Reds, then it could leave space for the visitor’s front men to hit the home side on the break.

When people talk about Liverpool, they tend to talk about Mane, Firmino and Salah, as the positives. The negative side of the team is usually their defence.

Liverpool fans will be hoping that Klopp’s team can continue to stay solid, as who knows it may just lead to the Merseysiders pushing harder for the league title next season.

Have Liverpool finally sorted their defensive problems?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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