What’s the number one complaint we had about Liverpool up until about January of this year? Everyone said it, everyone knew it, and it had been that way for years, even before Jürgen Klopp brought his high pressing game to Merseyside.
It’s been a constant project for Liverpool to fine tune their defense and it finally looked like something had clicked with the additions of Andy Robertson in left back and Virgil van Dijk in center, but just those additions aren’t always enough to keep up the level that’s needed for the pressures of the Premier League and beyond. And even with a decent track record against big six teams, Klopp knew that going into Saturday’s match against Tottenham.
“Two years ago, we had the best record in top-six games and when we played anyone else, it wasn’t too cool,” said Klopp on Sunday.
“Last year, our away record against the top six wasn’t really good and I told the boys it wasn’t because the games were away or because they were against the top six, it was because we didn’t defend as good as we could.”
Liverpool’s propensity for leaking goals against the other top sides last season was made all the more frustrating knowing how well they’d done the year previously. The loss to Tottenham last year stood as a turning point for the rest of the season, but that didn’t mean that there weren’t still lessons to learn this year.
“City isn’t a good example, but at Wembley we defended badly, at United we defended badly and could still have got a point but our defending as a team wasn’t good,” Klopp continued.
“It was clear we had to defend against Tottenham (on Saturday) at the highest level and be really brave. Against a pressing team like Tottenham, if you’re not brave or confident then it’s so difficult. You have to use the size of the Wembley pitch and that’s what we did.
“Our runs in behind were brilliant and how we kept the ball was all good. But it’s one game.”
Of course, a lot of that confidence came from last year’s additions and of course the imposing figure Alisson Becker presents in goal. Just watching Liverpool these days, the confidence in the backline is stronger than ever. Tottenham was just one game, though, and Klopp is absolutely right.
We need to keep practicing and performing just as we did on Saturday - finally tackling Liverpool’s other old rival, consistency.
Consistency, and a good defense, are what win titles.