Being better at defending frees a team to be more open, creative, and aggressive in their attacking play. Being better at attacking pins back the opponent and makes it easier to defend against them when they do get the ball.
It’s perhaps not a revelatory idea or unique to Liverpool, but it’s a key motivation for the club’s efforts to constantly improve at either end of the pitch—because the better you get at one aspect of the game, the better you get at everything.
“I really believe that the better you defend, the easier it is to attack,” explained assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders. “The last game [against West Ham], we didn’t attack—or we were not protected in the way we should be protected.
“So we didn’t attack in the right way and that’s why we had to run back and stop these counters much deeper than we are normally used to. The better we attack, the easier it is to defend. It’s really related to each other.”
Taken to its logical conclusion, then, perfection would seem to be the goal. Lijnders, though, insists that it isn’t. Always look to be better, and always look to improve, but the goal is never about trying to achieve perfection.
“If you want to win, you have to dominate everything,” he added. “Each phase in the best way possible. We don’t speak about perfection, but the best way possible. Be dominant in each phase and that’s something we are good at.
“If we have to defend, we defend. If we have to attack, we attack. But it only comes because we focus each day on the process. We win, but it’s a logical result of planning and preparation.”