Jamie Carragher spent nine seasons in the heart of Liverpool's defence after Rafael Benítez moved him there from fullback. As a Liverpool legend with 737 appearances for the club and prominent pundit for Sky Sports, his opinion tends to carry weight—especially on defensive matters. It's good to know, though, that he's looking forward to the blossoming central defensive partnership between Joël Matip and Dejan Lovren.
Although Liverpool haven't yet kept a clean sheet in the league, opening fixtures have been tough. 10 points so far is a good return even with a few worrying defensive errors. Loris Karius will start against Hull City on Saturday, ensuring that Jürgen Klopp can finally field the two centre backs and goalkeeper that entered the season as his likely first-choice options.
Unsurprisingly, Carragher is looking for defensive improvements for further progress to be made. Over the past three seasons, Liverpool have conceded an average of virtually 50 goals a season—a figure that is simply unsustainable to regularly challenge at the top end of the table.
“I still think we can improve. I don’t think we’ve kept a clean sheet yet in the league," Carragher said. “That’s something that will have to change going forward if we want to continue on that run that we’re on. You’ve got to take into account the opposition, we’ve played top quality opposition for almost every game we’ve played in the league.
“Matip and Lovren going forward as a partnership will be a lot better the more they play together. There’s going to be times when you need to play poorly and win, and nick games 1-0, and a lot of that comes from your centre-backs.
“I always remember something Ronnie Moran used to say when I first joined: ‘if your two centre backs play well, no matter how everyone else plays you’ve got a chance of winning the game’. I think he’s right.
“If your two centre-backs build a partnership, don’t get too many injuries, can play week-in week-out, you can build from that.”
Carragher's last sentence is one of the biggest problems Mamadou Sakho faces to regain his place in the side. If he had Lovren's fitness record, Klopp would be able to count on him virtually every week for selection. There is also the argument that a team's best players should play when fit, but building partnerships in defence is important.
Still, Sakho has proven to be a superior defender to Lovren. He's more composed in possession, possesses greater awareness, and doesn't appear in need of guidance on the field. When your best players are available, they should (in theory) play. Stability as as well as ability is required when building a solid and consistent defence, which Klopp's changes should hopefully bring for a team that has badly fallen short in that area in recent years.
Ahead of the defeat to Burnley, Jürgen Klopp said that he loved clean sheets. With Hull City visiting Anfield, it would be a fine time for Liverpool to show clean sheets the love they deserve for the first time this season.