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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, October 3, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a press conference at Anfield ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 3 game between Liverpool FC and Glasgow Rangers FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp to go “back to basics” to restore Liverpool’s “art” of defending

Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool must go “back to basics” to recapture defensive solidity, looking back to the situation they faced in 2020/21.

As the manager reminded reporters during his pre-Rangers press conference on Monday, it is only two years ago that the wheels began to fall off in an unprecedented injury crisis.

Virgil van Dijk suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the 2-2 draw with Everton in October 2020, with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip soon to follow, leaving Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to fill in.

Late deals were struck to bring in Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies in the winter transfer window, but the campaign ended with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams at centre-back, with a no-nonsense approach helping the Reds to finish third.

While Liverpool are far from the dire straits of 2020/21, they certainly find themselves in a difficult position this time around, with their defensive efforts particularly poor.

And speaking at Anfield on Monday afternoon, Klopp explained how patterns were emerging – as seen in the 3-3 draw with Brighton – that showed his side need to go “back to basics.”

“We concede now similar goals, let me say it like this, where they go through the same gaps,” he said.

“The special problem we have is that we have a really brave way of defending usually, and when the timing in our defending is not perfect, then we leave a gap open.

“That was always the case, by the way, but because of the pressure we put on the boy on the ball, nobody really recognised it, because we closed it with intensity, if you want.

“So if you don’t do that, then this gap is open for a short moment and Brighton used it quite often – pass the ball through our gap, in between the lines, where they could turn and these kinds of things, and that makes it tricky.

“We have to be more compact.

“We have that in our mind, we know that, but in the moment it’s going well, you do it and you do it again, but in the time it’s still not right, that’s it.

“We said it last week, I think, that defending is kind of an art. It worked for us for really long, really well.

“But when it’s not working out anymore, you realise step by step how much you have to go back to the basics, so you defend solid again.”

The issue this time around is not a shortage of personnel, but a lack of quality and consistency among those players who Klopp has come to rely upon, such as Van Dijk, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

With Rangers heading to Anfield on Tuesday night, the manager will be hoping for a more diligent approach at the back, suggesting he could tweak his setup slightly.

“We cannot always start thinking completely new, ‘what can we do?’,” he insisted.

“But if we can help the boys with a way to defend it differently, we will do that.

“We have to be more solid, we have to make it more compact, definitely, and that’s what we try to be.”