Once again in the Premier League, Liverpool are playing an exciting brand of attacking football, which is perhaps only bettered by Manchester City in the top-flight. Jurgen Klopp’s trusted 4-3-3 formation allows the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to pile forward, whilst they are often joined by Philippe Coutinho, who can be found in a slightly deeper role.
Liverpool have 21 goals in the Premier League after 11 fixtures and have also scored a further 13 from three fixtures in the Champions League, as the Reds thrive on their return to Europe’s elite competition. The attacking prowess of Klopp’s side has never been in doubt, but there are still huge concerns over the club’s defending and if they hand Liverpool a solid enough base to see them seriously challenge for major honours and a regular place in the Champions League.
Their resurgence over recent weeks has been impressive and many recent football tips centre on Liverpool’s price of 11/10 to record another top-four finish under Klopp in 2018. The likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea are all shorter odds than Liverpool after superior starts to the season.
Heading into early November, the table is beginning to take shape, and despite many viewing Liverpool’s start as inconsistent, Klopp’s side are still well in contention for the top-four. Defensive issues are constantly highlighted as Liverpool’s problem, but signs are there that they are improving somewhat, with results in both the Premier League and Champions League indicating a tighter ship at the back.
Liverpool played Manchester United, Maribor (twice), Spurs, Huddersfield Town and West Ham United between October 14th and November 4th, with Klopp’s side managing to record four clean sheets from those six fixtures, figures that most teams in the Premier League would be proud of. Of course, the 4-1 defeat to Spurs at Wembley was a defensive embarrassment, with Dejan Lovren one player sacrificed by Klopp in the first-half. However, signs are there that Lovren and Joel Matip, along with the likes of Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno, are slowly settling as a unit.
The Reds will never have the defensive steel of Spurs or Manchester United without serious investment, and it is certainly something that Klopp needs to be considering heading into January and beyond, but for now, he deserves more credit for the job he is doing with his current crop.
Nathaniel Clyne is still to come back into Liverpool’s defensive line-up, with Andy Robertson provides a promising alternative to Moreno at left-back, with Trent Alexander-Arnold another prospect.
Liverpool seem well equipped in the full-back positions, and the feeling is that a natural leading central defender to play alongside one of Lovren or Matip. Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk was strongly linked with a move to Anfield over the summer would go some way to solving the club’s defensive frailties.
Of course, Liverpool’s fluid attack takes a lot of praise, and rightly so. However, on occasion this year, the Reds’ defenders have also deserved credit, as they have put in some good performances as a unit. It remains to be seen whether their defence has the capabilities to deliver elite success, but their recent form indicates a top-four finish should be attainable.