In the Brendan Rodgers era, Liverpool have struggled in defence. 43, 50, and 48 have been the totals for goals conceded in the past three Premier League campaigns. The first two seasons featured a strong attack that produced a healthy goal difference; positive goal difference of 79 across that period testified to the progress being made by the club. Was it sustainable? Probably not without a fully fit deadly goalscorer in Daniel Sturridge and a magical Luis Suárez. There is also the defensive midfielder question, but perhaps that should be left for another time.
Last season's sobering lessons have underlined the need for balance. Even if Liverpool's potent attack is somewhat restored by the signings made over the summer, a considerable improvement will be needed from the defensive side of the team. Jan Molby, a former Red, thinks that Liverpool's defensive work before the season has been witnessed already in the form of two clean sheets. In his Liverpool Echo column, Molby expressed his confidence on the detail and work carried out over the summer.
Christian Benteke took the headlines with his winner against Bournemouth but I was more intrigued by the defence. Some of the players who did well in the win against Stoke City were encouraging once more. Particularly in terms of building defensive partnerships.You don't have to be a genius to determine what Liverpool have been working on most during pre-season. Whereas we have pressed all over the pitch in the past - and still do - now the players are very, very quick to drop into position when we are without the ball. That's discipline. That's something you work on in training. And that has made us a different team to the one that ended last season. It is working well so far - you can't do any better than two clean sheets in your first two games. And the centre-backs in particular have benefited from being positioned a little further back.
Alberto Moreno has been dropped to play the extremely promising Joe Gomez out of position while the club's finest centre back cannot find a way into the side ahead of two inferior players. Still, Liverpool have been largely resolute in defence with the predictably solid Nathaniel Clyne as the club's outstanding performer so far. Dejan Lovren has been more competent than expected after last season's risible displays, although he will need to do more to justify a place ahead of Mamadou Sakho.
Arsenal, with their typical attractive approach to playing the world's most popular sport, are next up for Liverpool. An unblemished trip to Stoke and repelling AFC Bournemouth, with all due respect, will not be as easy as producing a defensively organised performance against Wenger's disciples. The preferred central midfield partnership of Jordan Henderson and James Milner will be scrutinised, especially as the services of Lucas Leiva have been judged by Brendan Rodgers to be superfluous for his Liverpool squad.
Can Liverpool's midfield ably support the defensive unit at the Emirates? Will Liverpool's four players in defence play like they're smoking the right stuff in North London? Monday will have all the answers.