Joel Matip believes clocking up more clean sheets will help Liverpool edge closer to domestic success this term.
It’s no secret that Liverpool is well-accomplished in the goal-scoring department. Having scored 16 goals in their opening 6 games, the Reds are the second highest scoring side in the division behind league leaders Manchester City.
While scoring goals may not be an issue, conceding certainly is. Last season, Jurgen Klopp’s side conceded 50 goals and this poor defensive form continued into the new campaign as the Reds allowed Arsenal and Burnley to score five goals between them.
Since the opening two games of the season, however, Liverpool has only conceded 4 goals in as many games. The Merseyside defence has been unable to keep a clean sheet despite putting in some very impressive defensive displays.
While conceding one goal per game isn’t horrible, it’s still not good enough if Liverpool wants to compete for Champions League places or even challenge for the league title.
When Chelsea won the league in 2015, they had only conceded 32 goals all season – that’s less than a goal per game. Liverpool has conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game this season and if that continues throughout the season 57 goals will have been given away. That’s not much better than the 60 goals that were conceded last season.
Joel Matip, in Saturday’s matchday programme, spoke about the importance of clean sheets.
“A solid defence always helps to win games and it is always necessary for a good team,” the centre-back said.
“We have to improve but we know this and we will work hard towards getting better and keeping clean sheets because sometimes we may only be able to score one goal and we want that to be enough to win.
“It will take hard work but that is no problem for us. We have a lot of good quality in our team and I am sure we will get better as the season progresses.”
A theme for this season under Jurgen Klopp has been competition for starting positions and this goes all the way from goalkeeper to striker – the only area unchallenged is fullback.
Matip is on the same page as he believes this internal fight for game time is driving the team to be the best they can be.
“Competition is always good in every position and it will help bring the best out of me,” added Matip.
“I have to be better and I want to be better. Having that quality of player around the squad means that if we have injuries – as we have in the first few weeks of the season – there are enough players of a high calibre to come into the team.
“I am also self-confident enough to say that if I am at a good level, I will play and I will be able to help the team.”