In spite of the ongoing discussion of Liverpool's centre back richness, questions linger about the club's defensive frailties given the number of goals conceded purely owing to Liverpool error or mental blips.
“We go into every game to play well, to work the ball and work hard when we don’t have it," Brendan Rodgers said of Liverpool's general approach to each match. “You are asked different questions away from home and we just need to cut out the mistakes we make because it hasn’t been a case of teams opening us up — we have conceded disappointing goals or own goals. If we can cut that out, we know we have enough ammunition to get goals.
“We have made mistakes defensively. We own up to that. That has cost us goals, some of them cheap goals. It is swings and roundabouts because we won the first three games of this season 1-0 and people talked about our lack of goals — which I don’t think is something you can level at this team."
Indeed, only Manchester City have scored more goals than Liverpool this season, but while Liverpool's impressive goal tally ensures that they maintain the second best goal differential in the league as well, all potential challengers for a Top Four finish this year have a fewer goals allowed. It's an area Liverpool vastly need to improve in general, as it can often be the difference between taking a single point rather than collecting all three off an opponent.“Now we are scoring, it is about the clean sheets," Rodgers continued. "In these types of games where it is tight, you have to make sure you don’t make mistakes. It was something last year that cost us in these big games where we were in front and made mistakes.”
It's something Rodgers and his defensive line will need to put right for Sunday's game against Spurs. If you're inclined to believe in curses, superstition, or bad coincidences in general, Liverpool have an uninspiring history of just these types of defensive gaffes against Tottenham: Spurs are joint second as the team Liverpool have conceded the most own goals against (seven goals), with four of those coming at White Hart Lane and one being attributed to our very own Martin Skrtel.
It's a recipe for a defensive clusterfudge of epic proportions, or it could just be an overlapping series of stats that paint a worse picture than the reality is likely to be. Having identified the team's issues as self-inflicted, Rodgers and Co. can work to remedy those problems. A strong demonstration of this self-awareness in a crucial away game would be an excellent showing on the part of the players and would continue the good run of form the club has established in the last two matches.