Biggest tests yet to come for defence
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has said that the toughest tests are yet to come for the improving backline.
Manager Jurgen Klopp has added Holland international Virgil Van Dijk and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker to his defensive unit this year and it has seen the number of goals conceded drop.
The team have so far conceded just one goal so far in four Premier League fixtures, all of which were won, but Carragher has warned them that they will face stiffer examinations of their credentials in his article for the Telegraph.
“In his first game as Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp secured a goalless draw away at Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool have failed to keep a clean sheet in the 12 away league fixtures against the ‘big six’ since.” he wrote.
“For all the plaudits for the club’s improved defence – most of them warranted given recent performances – the moments of truth beckon. We will soon know how equipped their defence is to sustain a title challenge.
“Although Liverpool are getting better, it is too early to judge how good they are at the toughest away grounds.
“Last season they conceded fifteen goals in five away games at top-six rivals, including nine in two games at Manchester City and Tottenham. That return is never going to maintain a title bid.” he added.
And while Carragher has praised the impact made by former Southampton centre-back Van Dijk, he warned Liverpool that the Dutchman is not going to be able to do it all on his own against the best teams.
“Van Dijk has shone against the majority of Premier League sides since he joined last January.” he continued.
“But we still cannot ignore that with Van Dijk on board Liverpool were beaten at Manchester United and Chelsea, and even in victory against Roma in the Champions League semi-final the defence conceded four in the second leg.
“The expectation is Van Dijk and Alisson Becker will make the difference. Liverpool have only conceded once and that was from a daft, avoidable error against Leicester, so the signs are promising.
“Van Dijk has brought assurance, making the difficult look easy. He gets his head onto set-pieces, has a positive effect on those around him and reduces periods where the defence looks under the cosh.
“Good as it has been so far – with respect – they have not come up against a team of Spurs’ quality yet, nor a striker of Harry Kane’s class.
“He tortured Liverpool in this fixture a year ago, forcing a defensive substitution when Dejan Lovren was withdrawn before half-time.” he finished.
Liverpool take on Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain in the coming weeks and these fixtures are likely to prove a lot tougher than the teams faced so far.