Liverpool defender Andy Robertson credited a “proper” win over Aston Villa to their defensive organisation.
Despite dominating possession and having 20 shots to their opponents’ four, the Reds only had Mohamed Salah’s 67th-minute penalty to show for their efforts.
In the final 15 minutes the visitors pressed for an equaliser and caused more than their fair share of problems but Jurgen Klopp’s side hung on to ensure Steven Gerrard’s Anfield homecoming ended in a 1-0 defeat.
“Yeah, a proper one. We had to dig deep the last 15 minutes,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“Once we got the goal they kind of took the ‘nothing to lose’ (attitude), they started being a bit more adventurous, pushing their full-backs forward and started causing us a few problems.
“But that’s when as defenders we have to stand up and we have to make ourselves count when the front boys have already scored, and I thought we did it excellently.
“I thought Joel (Matip) and Virg (Virgil Van Dijk) won every header that came their way, I thought me and Trent (Alexander-Arnold) defended well, Fab (Fabinho) was covering the spaces really well, Hendo (Jordan Henderson), Millie (James Milner) when he came on, Thiago, and of course the wingers and striker were defending really well.
“One-nil is a really good result and a clean sheet, which we’re delighted about. It could have been a couple more goals but it’s all about picking up three points, especially at this period of the season.”
In the short time he has had in this season’s congested programme, the Reds boss has tried to work on tightening up defensively and since that loss to West Ham on November 7 they have conceded just two goals in seven matches in all competitions.
Their Premier League record of 12 conceded in 14 matches is the worst when compared to Manchester City and Chelsea but, conversely, they are comfortably outscoring their title rivals.
“It’s difficult for us to really work on it because our problem is that we obviously play all the time,” said Klopp.
“In the few moments when we have time that is something we have to be completely committed as a squad to – defending.
“If this team defends on the highest level we always have a chance to score a goal and if we don’t do that then we need to score two, three, four or whatever and that makes no sense because that’s not always possible.
“It’s something we’ve absolutely worked on and it’s about balance, it’s about offensively and defensively that you don’t get too exposed but it is important you are exposed because you need the spaces to create space for other players and all these kind of things.
“There are so many things you have to think about, but the most important thing is that you are well protected because then you feel really free for offensive things.
“I am really happy with that but the last 15 minutes I am not happy with, of course – how could I be because we really opened the door for the game but the 75 before were absolutely outstanding so I’m really happy about the performance.”