Liverpool legend Steve Nicol feels that the club’s defence can’t afford to give away chances in next weekend’s match against Arsenal at Anfield.
The Reds registered their second Premier League win out of as many matches this season by beating a resilient Southampton side 2-1. Goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 2-0 up before an error from goalkeeper Adrian saw former LFC player Danny Ings pull one back for Southampton.
Ings had a golden opportunity to equalise late into the match but failed to do so. In the end, Liverpool ended up bagging three points and are currently at the top of the table.
Nicol wasn’t very pleased with how his former club’s defence fared throughout the game and feels that Klopp has some work to do over the next few days. Speaking to ESPN FC, the former Liverpool defender said: “I can’t say I was surprised [at Liverpool’s performance]. It’s always tough after a big midweek European game, to then come back and then go away from home, especially after extra time and penalties. I wasn’t shocked at how slow they started. At the same time I was shocked again at the amount of chances that Southampton had, not only in that first half, but in the second half as well.
“Liverpool got the result but the performance and the performances so far this season, there have been a lot of question marks over that back-line. This game could have finished it 4-4 and had it done, nobody could’ve argued that Southampton didn’t deserve a point. Adrian had two incredible saves, one from a point-blank header from [Maya] Yoshida, one from [Joel] Matip, a reflex save. Without Adrian, Liverpool maybe could have lost this game.
“At the same time they created a lot of chances in the second half but they’re fortunate to get three points. Liverpool still had a really strong team out but Southampton put up a great fight and were very unfortunate not to get a point out of this game. If it [Liverpool’s defence] gives up the chances it gave up against Southampton, they’re going to lose a lot more goals.
“Southampton showed that they lack quality in the attacking third as far as taking chances are concerned. When you’re up against Aubameyang or Lacazette or even a Pepe now, they are not going to pass up those chances. I think there’s a little bit of work for Klopp to do on the training field between now and next weekend.”
Liverpool’s defence did look a little sluggish during the match but then again they had a hectic match just three days back. Nevertheless, the back-line will have to be more resolute against Arsenal next weekend as their attackers will certainly capitalise on any error the opposition makes.
The Gunners have one of the best attacks in the Premier League right now as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks in particularly good form, while summer signing Nicolas Pepe also looks a big prospect.
Klopp’s side will need to rediscover the solid defensive performances that served them well last season if they are to keep those Arsenal attackers at bay.