Brendan Rodgers is determined to maintain a solid, consistent back four in order to rid Liverpool of their regular defensive mishaps from last season.
And in his opinion, the best way to do that is to use Dejan Lovren alongside Martin Skrtel at centre-back, just as he did for the Stoke fixture last weekend.
This is because Rodgers believes the £20m Croatian will be much better for us this term after struggling badly during his debut campaign.
Rodgers said (via the Echo): “I thought that back four last week were exceptional.
“I thought he (Lovren) was very, very good last week. I think it’s confidence. I felt – and I said it last year – in his second year he’ll be a better player here.
“It’s such a huge move to come to a club like this and it’s only when they’re in they recognise the expectations that are here.
“It was about trying to find that balance early on in pre-season. We’ve got excellent players here in Sakho, Kolo, but centre-halves will tell you it’s about finding that comfort with a partner, that partnership.
“And I thought the two centre-halves were very good last week and Dejan in particular where he’s aggressive, good in the air, his reading of the game was good and his passing was simple but effective.
“I think he’s gained confidence in pre-season and hopefully that will be maintained.”
Many fans would prefer Frenchman Mamadou Sakho to start ahead of Lovren, and many reckon he’s a better bet than first choice Martin Skrtel, too.
But if Liverpool keep clean-sheets like they did versus Stoke, and continue to win matches, Rodgers will win over supporters who doubt his backing of the former Southampton man.
Our manager is adamant that this season’s keeper and back four need to play with each other consistently to maximise their communication and ability to work as a unit.
So the Stoke team-sheet might be more worrying news for the likes of Sakho and Alberto Moreno (who missed out for Joe Gomez).
“I think it’s key in any team to have players who are going to play consistently for you, especially in a back five that’s vital,” the boss continued.
“I thought the back four and goalkeeper were excellent last week at Stoke.
“I thought their organisation as a group, as a unit, you had Nathaniel Clyne coming in who’s a top defender anyway, very rarely gets beaten, super quick, his covering positions for a young defender is outstanding.
“There was one moment where the ball’s on the far side, he’s got a player outside him but he recognises and smells danger quickly, jumps inside and makes the header away.
“For a lot of teams that’s a goal against you so we’ve got players who want to defend first and foremost which is key to keeping clean sheets and from that you’ve got the platform to play.”
The likes of Moreno, Sakho and Toure may well have to wait until the League Cup and Europa League kicks into action before they’re given minutes this season.
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