Speaking as a pundit for BBC Sport, Garth Crooks suggested that Joel Matip employed ‘the dark arts’ to deal with Diego Costa. What can we take from this?

When Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Joel Matip was a rock for the side. Although he was at fault for Diego Costa’s goal, the former Schalke man was always present to put Chelsea’s front-man under pressure.

Garth Crooks, speaking for BBC Sport, praised Matip for his use of ‘the dark arts’ to put Costa off.

“I went to this game and there were a number of worthy performances in defence for Liverpool on the night but Joel Matip was probably the most notable for me.

“Matip wasn’t the least bit concerned about the threat from Diego Costa. In fact, in the first half it was Matip who consistently and quite deliberately gently nudged Costa in the back, causing the striker to miscontrol the ball.

“It’s a trick clever defenders employ in order to stop the striker from setting the play, and it often goes undetected by the referee as it appears as though the striker’s control is poor.

“Why such dark arts should thrill me on this occasion I’m not entirely sure. I suppose anything done well should be applauded.”

Crooks has praised Matip for his ‘clever’ tactics to make Diego Costa miscontrol the ball, but the interesting bit is that the pundit has said that “anything done well should be applauded.”

What I take from this is that Liverpool aren’t expected to defend well. It’s not surprising, really. Having concede in and around 50 goals for the last few years, Liverpool can barely conceive of what a good defence is.

The fact of the matter is that Liverpool won’t find continued success until a reliable defence is in place. As well as James Milner has done at leftback, he’s not the future for Liverpool as far as left-back is concerned.

Klopp has done a good job in recent weeks in shoring up the defence after conceding 5 goals in 2 games against Arsenal and Burnley. With Hull next in the league, Liverpool should use it as further practice.

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