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Talking Tactics

Klopp must add defensive steel

Adrian Clarke 25 Jun 2016
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Adrian Clarke says Liverpool manager should target three defence-minded signings for 2016/17

After the release of the 2016/17 Premier League fixtures minds are shifting towards the new season that starts on 13 August. Adrian Clarke looks at where each of 20 clubs might seek to improve. In the latest article, he focuses on Liverpool.

Mixing between a fairly settled 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, Liverpool made steady progress under Jurgen Klopp last term. But although at times they blew opponents away with fast, swashbuckling football, it was often hot and cold in 2015/16 for the Reds.

It is how Klopp’s side performs out of possession that will be at the forefront of the German’s thoughts ahead of his first full Premier League campaign, having taken over from Brendan Rodgers in October.

Conceding 50 goals last term, after 48 and 51 in the two previous years, Liverpool have not been solid enough at the back for quite some time.

New signing Joel Matip boosts Liverpool's defensive options
New signing Joel Matip boosts Liverpool's defensive options

Dealing poorly with crosses (especially from set-pieces), making individual errors, and failing to show any match-to-match consistency in the way they press rivals, Klopp has plenty of areas to work on this summer.

The signings of highly rated goalkeeper Loris Karius and dominant central defender Joel Matip have signalled his intentions.

Going further to add three more defensive players, including a left-back and a holding midfielder, would give his squad a more resolute feel than it has at present.

Fitness is another facet of Liverpool’s play that must get better. Trying to adapt to their manager’s high-intensity tactics, the players ran out of steam too often last season.

Records of PL sides when scoring first in 2015/16

Team Scored 1st goal Won Ave pts when scoring 1st
Leicester 26 of 38 21 2.54
Arsenal 24 of 38 18 2.42
Liverpool 23 of 38 14 2.17
Man Utd 22 of 38 16 2.59
Spurs 22 of 38 14 2.18


As shown in the table below, they relinquished more leads than any of their direct Premier League rivals, something that cost them big as they slipped to an eighth-place finish.

Ensuring his players can deal with his physical demands, and introducing one or two athletic new players who suit his philosophy, are bound to be Klopp’s priorities.

Liverpool surrendered winning positions far too often in the 2015/16 PL campaign
Liverpool surrendered winning positions far too often in the 2015/16 PL campaign

Liverpool have been handed a demanding start to the 2016/17 season.

Liverpool's opening fixtures

MW1 Arsenal (a)
MW2 Burnley (h)
MW3 Spurs (a)
MW4 Leicester City (h)
MW5 Chelsea (a)
MW6 Hull City (h)

Add the 2016/17 fixtures to your digital calendar >>

They travel to London to face Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in their first three away matches, with Leicester City and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United due to come to Anfield before mid-October.

If Klopp gets his pre-season training right, and his new-look squad are fit and ready to implement his plans, these will be dangerous contests for their opponents.
Should they take a healthy points tally from the first eight matches, it could be the springboard for a very exciting campaign for Liverpool.

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