Liverpool legend John Barnes believes Jurgen Klopp’s front three are to blame for the club’s poor defensive start to the season. Liverpool have conceded 11 goals in their first four Premier League games of the campaign. Centre-back duo Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have come under criticism, as has back-up goalkeeper Adrian who conceded seven goals in the 7-2 drubbing by Aston Villa.
But Barnes instead thinks the front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are to blame for not pressing from the front as much as they normally do.
“The high line that they’re actually playing is no different to what they’ve always done,” Barnes told talkSPORT.
“The difference now is if you look at what they’ve done in the last two years, not so much in the last three or four games of last season, when you play a high line the most important thing is for the front three and midfield three to put pressure on the ball so you can’t play those balls through.
“Liverpool are playing a higher line than they ever have done but what has happened in the past is that the front three have really defended better in terms of putting pressure on the players, the midfield players, whereas now they’re playing the same high line but we’re not putting enough pressure on the ball, that’s why balls are being played through.
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“So I think that is what Jurgen Klopp will be saying, not ‘let’s not play a high line’, he’s saying to the front three ‘you have to work harder to stop the ball being played from the back’, or the midfield players to close down the midfield quicker to stop the deals being played through.
“We aren’t playing any differently, I just think we’ve dropped off our intensity in our defending from the front.”
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Klopp’s side will aim to bounce back from the Villa demolition against Merseyside rivals Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday (12.30pm).
Barnes is expecting a close encounter but thinks his former side will come out on top.
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“I expect a very close game,” Barnes added.
“Everton are playing with a lot of confidence and of course they’re unbeaten and have won all four of their games.
“I really feel that no fans in the stadium suits Everton more than Liverpool, it will benefit them because the Evertonians put so much pressure on their team to attack and take Liverpool on head-to-head, so without that they can sit back and defend, just like they did last year, and they put in a good performance.
“But I think Liverpool will win, particular after the defeat against Villa.”
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