We've been here before so let it not be said that Brendan Rodgers doesn't know how to get Liverpool organised early in the season. However, after conceding six at Stoke City to finish what looked to be his third and final season at the club, Rodgers has overseen trips to Stoke and Arsenal without conceding a single goal. Four points in Liverpool's Premier League kitty underlines how well the job has been done so far. The next five away games in football's most popular league are Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Manchester City so it is good practice to get as many points as possible early in the season.
Where Liverpool collected zero points and conceded ten goals last season, four points and two clean sheets reign in this campaign. There were some difficult moments at the Emirates, but Liverpool posed many pertinent questions of their own. While the home side had more of the ball and greater territorial advantage for large parts of the game, the visitors from Merseyside forced Petr Čech to make some fine stops to prevent Arsenal from going behind. Did Simon Mignolet have as much work to do? No, but Liverpool were still under pressure defensively for patches in the opening fifteen minutes or so in the first half along with a fascinating second half battle as Arsenal tried to find a winner. The intent and coherence in Liverpool's counter attacking was impressive, however, and it was built on some organised and last-ditch defending. Brendan Rodgers was most pleased indeed.
It means a lot that we've kept three clean sheets. Anyone who has followed my career as a youth coach into becoming a senior manager, it's all about the intensity of how we press and the cohesion in the team. That was something that drifted last season, for sure. It was very important, especially with the number of new players coming in, that our defensive organisation was super organised against a top-class team. We definitely could have had all three points. Performance-wise, I was very happy with how we worked. In the first half in particular we created chances and should have been in front. In the second half you expect some pressure but we defended that very well and always looked a threat going forward. Our performance level is growing all the time. That will be the platform, with all our creative talent.
It's extremely hard to argue with the manager's assessment of the game, and he makes a fair point about Arsenal's resurgence in the second half: good sides at home will put you under pressure for some portions of the game. That's to be expected. How a visiting team responds to the aforementioned pressure is another matter entirely. Liverpool looked like they could score in the second half, let alone the first where Arsenal's players walked off at half time knowing that Rodgers' side created a number of fine opportunities to score. Liverpool's defensive organisation has improved by some stretch after the unravelling in the last couple of months of last season, but there has been a legitimate question mark against Rodgers' capability to construct a Liverpool side that can be relied upon to produce competent defensive performances.
The switch to a midfield three involving Lucas Leiva that enabled Liverpool to ably support both attack and defensive against a players who can drift inside to outnumber opposition midfields, a back four that appears to be growing in understanding, and a goalkeeper who makes decisions instead of hesitating all contributed to another clean sheet. This is a team that works together with additions in the summer who provide a variety of physical robustness, 157% effort, and an appetite for competing. There is much work to do with players who can still improve the levels of their respective performances to enable more comfortable victories and less taxing draws, but Liverpool seem to have a defensive foundation to build upon. It's strange to think that still could improve with the club's best defensive midfielder and most assured centre back deemed to be support players.
For Rodgers, though, this is the start he desperately needed for a crucial fourth season at the club. His rhetoric has been mostly centred around passing and attacking, but the defence may be the key to his future.