There’s been a magic trick at Anfield.
Somehow the best defence in the league last season containing the player of the year suddenly can’t keep the ball out of their own net.
Liverpool have made a blistering start to the season with four wins from four, but their inability to keep a clean sheet will be a real concern to Jurgen Klopp.
Remember, they are competing with one of the best teams in Premier League history in Man City and if they have any chance of pipping them to the title then every area of the team has to be 100% effective.
Currently there are problems with the Reds’ backline.
They’ve managed just a single shutout this season, against Burnley before the international break, conceding in wins against Norwich, Southampton, Arsenal and now Newcastle.
That will be much to the annoyance of Virgil van Dijk and his colleagues at the back.
So how did a defensive unit that allowed just 22 goals in 38 games last season suddenly become so leaky?
Firstly, let’s be clear that Alisson’s absence has definitely influenced the solidity at the back.
Last season’s Golden Glove winner kept an impressive 21 clean sheets in the league but has been missing since getting injured against Norwich in the first game of the season.
Adrian has been a decent replacement but his various Simon Mignolet impressions have highlighted that he’s no Alisson.
The Brazilian goalkeeper’s relationship with Van Dijk was crucial to Liverpool’s stingy defending last season and the sooner he returns the better – the good news is that Alisson is back in training.
Van Dijk and Joel Matip, the centreback pairing that brought Liverpool their sixth Champions League last season, are missing the air of undefeatability they carried in the league and Europe.
In fact, other than Adrian’s horroshow against Southampton, Matip has been at least partly at fault for the rest of the goals Liverpool have conceded this year.
Against Newcastle today the Cameroonian let Christian Atsu get away from him before passing it to goalscorer Jetro Willems.
It may well be that as soon as Joe Gomez is regarded as fit enough to play, he will be thrown straight into the team.
The side have been beaten just once in the last 30 matches but that record can only continue so long if they continue to ship goals regularly.
Despite having a strikeforce that scores goals in their dreams and the emergence of Sadio Mane as a truly world class talent, they need to tighten up at the back if they want to win the league.
Liverpool won four games with a 1-0 scoreline last year, gaining 12 points that could be crucial in pushing City this year.
There’s only so many times you can score at least two goals a game.
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