Three clean sheets in the last four matches for Loris Karius and the Liverpool back line. Defending in a Jürgen Klopp side is a team effort but the men charged with protecting the Reds’ goal will take particular pleasure in that stat. Virgil Van Dijk undoubtedly plays a part in Liverpool’s newfound defensive solidity, because he’s The Virg and that’s what The Virg does. But since his promotion to Master Goalkeeper, Karius has also shown that he’s capable of producing a solid effect for the team, saving shots, distributing the ball and communicating with his fellow goal protectors.
“Of course, clean sheets are the best thing you can get for defenders and goalkeepers,” said Karius, “so I think in the last few games even at times when we weren’t attacking much and got a bit deep we stuck together and defended it well.”
Sticking together is important. There will always be mistakes and goals conceded but a team that can hunker down defensively and confidently when under pressure bestows a great momentum to the attacking boys in the eleven. And Liverpool is starting to show a resilience to weather the storms that was fading with Simon Mignolet as the number one and questionable on Karius’ return.
“It wasn’t bad before, it just got better in the last few weeks,” explained Karius. “I just try to be there for the team when they need me. Make some saves and keep the team in the game.
“Game time every week helps to find your rhythm and improve on things. Even when you’re established maybe now as No 1 you always have to perform good and prove it week by week, so there’s never really any laying back or anything.
“Communication-wise, if it’s the build up from the back, if it’s the decision making in general, there’s always room for improvement, so we work on that every day on the training pitch to bring it down on the match day. Everyone is working well together as a group.”
Again, Van Dijk has to be included in any praise of Karius’ term between the posts. The big Dutchman has looked good with either Joël Matip or Dejan Lovren beside him. Also, Andrew Robertson has rounded into great form during this same spell in both the attacking and defending sides of the game. Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have made their contributions as well. So, Liverpool’s defensive group is developing an understanding and a way of life at the back. But will Karius and Van Dijk have to do battle for the ultimate vocal and commanding/commanding and vocal crown? No, it’ll probably be Van Dijk, to be honest.