Brendan Rodgers has defended his leaky Liverpool backline after further questions about the Reds’ title credentials.
Last weekend’s 4-3 win over Swansea again exposed defensive frailties, Wilfried Bony’s penalty the 35th league goal the team has conceded this term.
Brendan Rodgers defended his team’s defence which had been scrutinized after the 4-3 win against Swansea City. Rodgers had a lot of injuries to deal with it, but even without them, he struggled to find his preferred centre-back combination tinkering between Skrtel, Agger, Sakho and Toure.
The leaky defence could be illustrated by the fact that the club has kept only four clean sheets since the start of September. However, the Northern Irishman has the free-scoring attack to boast about, which has enabled the Reds to be just four points off first placed Chelsea and his side has also scored the highest number of goals in the competition-70. Rodgers said:
“It’s a collective effort. When we attack and score goals it’s because of what we do as a team,”
“We conceded disappointing goals last weekend but ultimately, at this stage of the season, it’s about winning.
“We’ve put in some outstanding team performances over the last 4-6 weeks and been so exciting to watch going forward.
“Last weekend we conceded a few goals – one from a free-kick we were disappointed with, one a penalty and one an incredible finish from Jonjo Shelvey but it’s not about any one player or any one unit, it’s the whole team.
“We’ve scored 70 goals and we’re the highest goalscorers because we’re building a platform for the team to go forward and play. If we’re defending it’s because we haven’t pressed the ball well enough at the top of the field.
“Ultimately we won the game last weekend – and, let’s not forget, we were playing a very good team.
“Supporters probably went away last weekend a bit frustrated that we only won by one goal – which shows the progress we’ve made. If we concede goals, it’s not one individual, or the defence, it’s the team. As we grow as a team, we will improve in other aspects.
“We’ve created a culture for players to improve in and get constant appraisal. The spirit is now one of the key facets of this team. We have camaraderie and team spirit that has evolved over time and through hard work. Everyone has bought into an ideology.”
Rodgers also spoke about the increasing speculation regarding club vice-captain Daniel Agger, who was replaced in the match against Swansea by Kolo Toure around the hour mark. Spectators took this to be a sign of mistrust between the Dane and the manager. Rodgers had said post the match, that he did so to increase the physicality in defence, especially to deal with the troublesome Bony. Rodgers took the pre-match conference to clear doubts regarding the player and also sending out the positive news that the club vice-captain is very much a part of the manager’s plans for the future.
“There has been a lot of spotlight, unfairly, on Daniel this week. What happened to Daniel was no different to what happened to any player.
“Just because it’s a defender, it maybe gets highlighted a bit more. But we made the change and we won the game. It’s no different to a winger coming off, or a striker or a midfield player.
“I don’t judge players on the status of where they are in the group – it’s what I think the game needs at a certain time. We made the change and Dan has taken it like the man he is.
“He has been outstanding in training this week and he will play. He will play on Saturday, no question about that.”
Liverpool have lost two of their previous encounters with Southampton and would be looking as this trip to get revenge and come back with all three points.
“We have improved quite a lot. On that day we had injuries that meant we had to put different players into different positions that probably wouldn’t suit how we want to work normally.
“But it doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier a game – it’s going to be a really difficult game. St Mary’s has been a traditionally difficult place to go, and especially for Liverpool over a number of years.
“Mauricio Pochettino and his predecessors have all done really well. Adkins and Pardew before him. The core of their team is still there.
“Pochettino has evolved a very good team, and we know it’ll be a difficult game for us.Southampton have some great young players. Jay Rodriguez has got even better since leaving Burnley. It’s great to see.. When we lost to Southampton at home earlier this season, we had to play a makeshift team. It’ll be difficult again this Saturday.
“But we’ve got great belief and confidence at the moment. We know what we’re going into each game looking to achieve, and we’re going in with the ability and focus to get the results.”