While Liverpool’s start to the season has been very positive, questions are still being asked over their defence.
They looked to be heading for a comfortable win against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, until their failure to properly deal with a corner allowed Gareth McAuley to score and ensure a somewhat nervy final few minutes at Anfield.
The concession of that goal meant that Liverpool have now kept just one clean sheet in nine Premier League games this season – even in the hammerings of Leicester and Hull they allowed bad goals to be conceded.
However, manager Jürgen Klopp is starting to become a little weary of the criticism of his side’s defence, even claiming to be “losing respect” for those who keep alluding to it.
Speaking after Liverpool’s 2-1 win against West Brom on Saturday, Klopp insists that he is well aware of the team’s problems with set pieces this season and doesn’t need to be constantly reminded about it:
“Really, I’ve heard this a few times and I lose respect when people say this,
“If people say we have some issues with set pieces how can I say they are wrong. I think 70-80% of the goals we have conceded are from set pieces. I’m the first who knows it and we work on it.
“But they are all different and we are still working on it and we defended brilliantly against United, and tonight it was so difficult – but we have no defensive problem.
“Do you believe that we work on it?!
“There was another team and did you see who was in it, it was like all my size going in, and they brought the set piece specialist who was injured for a long time. They are brilliant at set-pieces.
“It is not the same problem we had last year. I like it more than they create chances whenever they want because we defend like crazy. I’m fine with this for the moment but only for the moment.”
Liverpool’s defence looks markedly different to last year – in personnel at least – and the introductions of James Milner and Joel Matip to the backline have been yielding positive results, while Loris Karius is still adapting to English football.
Despite the lack of clean sheets, the defence is improving. In fact, since Matip’s introduction to the starting eleven, Liverpool have conceded six goals in seven games – a record that only Arsenal and Tottenham can better (as per Chris Bascombe in the Telegraph).
If anything, if the Reds had been able to put away one of the multitude of chances that came their way over the course of the 90 minutes then it would have been a much more comfortable evening for the team.
Nonetheless, they move to second in the Premier League table, level on points with Arsenal and Manchester City and looking very much like title contenders right now.