Last year, Liverpool proved themselves to be among the best defenses in Europe. Whether domestically or in Europe, the Reds did not concede many goals, and in doing so, became one of most difficult opponents to beat.
While Liverpool’s defensive record has been good so far this campaign, it hasn’t been great. Although Liverpool haven’t conceded many goals over all, their lack of clean sheets has been a growing concern over recent weeks. But back-to-back shutouts, including being the first team to prevent Salzburg from scoring in any competition, indicates that Liverpool’s defense might be rounding into form.
“It was just a matter of time and of focus,” Alisson Becker told the club’s official website after the match. “The last two games, we were focused for the full game. Even if they had chances we were there, the defenders were there and I was there to help the team.
“We just need to keep going with this focus because we know our quality and we know what we can do on the pitch when we put in our whole intensity.
“You need to do that for 90 minutes – it’s hard, we know, but I think we showed we can do this.
“I’m happy with the result and happy with what we did on the pitch. It was a difficult game for us but we did very well, everybody playing together and moving together, defending in a good way and attacking in a good way.
“I’m glad about the score, I’m glad about the clean sheet – but the three points were the most important thing we needed.”
Liverpool could be excused for not being as secure at the back this season as last. Alisson went down with an injury in the first half of the first match, and while Adrian was a fantastic understudy, the change at the back still posed a challenge for the defensive stability. And long-term injuries to Joel Matip and Fabinho certainly haven’t helped the cause.
Regardless, it seems as if Klopp and the rest of the coaching staff have put a renewed focus on, well, focus. It is understandable to occasionally “switch off,” but in order to secure more clean sheets, the whole team will need to continue to be much more “switched on,” and for the full 90 minutes.
Hopefully this is the start of a decent stretch of clean sheets, including, notably, the looming Boxing Day showdown with a pesky Leicester City side.