Liverpool defender Joel Matip was full of praise for fellow defender Virgil van Dijk, but pointed to another aspect of the team as a reason for their stubborn defence this season.
The club have improved dramatically at the back over the last year or so, and it has undoubtedly helped them close the gap between themselves and Manchester City.
Liverpool could well win their first Premier League title this season, and the defence will have been a big reason for that if it happens. So far, they have shipped just 20 goals in 33 top-flight matches.
While van Dijk has taken many of the plaudits for the Reds’ new-found solidity, Matip believes the efforts of the club’s attackers have helped out massively.
He said, as quoted by The Liverpool Echo: “The defensive play has been quite good this season and Virgil has made a big impact on the whole defensive unit, but our defending always starts from the front with the strikers pressing to put pressure on the opponent.
“That makes life easier for each defensive player and I think that is a reason why the whole team is defending better.”
Matip certainly has a point. As immense as van Dijk has been since his £75 million transfer in January 2018, Liverpool are brilliant as a collective in the defensive phase.
It is so difficult for teams to inflict damage on Liverpool when Salah, Mane and Firmino aren’t giving the opposition a moment’s peace.
All three have a tremendous work ethic and regularly force mistakes which alleviates pressure.
Quite often, Liverpool go through large periods of games without Matip, van Dijk and the full-backs being troubled – the danger is snuffed out high up the pitch, which then turns into a potential attack.