Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp have been wildly entertaining going forward, especially last season when the front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane caused carnage in defences at home and abroad.
However, one of the key factors holding the Reds back from mounting a realistic title challenge was poor defensive displays. Towards the end of last season and the first few games of this season, Klopp’s side have looked less vulnerable at the back, though.
Two clean sheets out of two this season
The Reds recorded a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Monday night, courtesy of a penalty from James Milner just before the break and an injury-time Mane effort. The game was by no means easy, even after the second half dismissal of young Palace full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Palace did threaten the Liverpool goal, even if it was sporadic attacks rather than onslaughts. However, Klopp’s side managed to make it two clean sheets out of two games in the top-flight this season after their opening day 4-0 win over West Ham.
Van Dijk has made a massive difference
Reds Dutch centre-back Virgil van Dijk is one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League. When the Merseysiders paid Southampton £75million for Van Dijk in the January transfer window, eyebrows were raised to say the least.
The fee looked like a massive one. However, the more and more games he plays in the heart of the Reds defence, the more his influence grows. His presence in the centre of their backline has been the key to Klopp’s side looking far less vulnerable.
Against Crystal Palace, Van Dijk once again produced a commanding display alongside youngster Joe Gomez. He looked like he could have been playing with his slippers on at times, he was that reassured at the back. He has brought calm to the Liverpool defence, which was missing prior to his arrival. Van Dijk is fast becoming a favourite among those connected with Liverpool.
Liverpool are a major threat to City this season
We all know what a potent attacking force Liverpool is under Klopp. Now the Reds seem to be a far more balanced team. It is not only Van Dijk that has impressed in defence for the Reds this season, Scottish international Andy Robertson has been superb for Klopp’s team since breaking into the team at left-back last season.
The former Hull full-back seems to have all the attribute of a top-class Premier League full-back. He can defend, but he is also very effective going forward. The more robust defence added to the Reds exciting attacking options should make Klopp’s side challengers to reigning league champions Manchester City this season.
Prior to the Palace game, Liverpool boss Klopp talked about how his side needs to win ugly. I do not think it would be unfair to say that the win against Palace was slightly ugly, as it was not a comfortable victory. However, the Liverpool defence played their part in securing the win. If the Reds backline can continue to put in solid performances, then they will be there or thereabouts for the title this season.
Is Liverpool’s defence solid enough to win the Premier League title?