Nathaniel Clyne believes Liverpool's first Premier League clean sheet of the season, achieved against Manchester United on Monday night, is an indication of an improving defensive line.
The Reds dominated much of the possession against the visitors at Anfield as they attempted to secure three points and they were rarely troubled at the back, restricting Jose Mourinho’s side to just one shot on target.
It was the first time in eight top-flight games in 2016-17 that Jürgen Klopp’s side had registered a shutout, and Clyne feels it was the result of enhancing performance levels at the back.
He told Liverpoolfc.com: “We’ve brought in some new players in defence. Joel and Millie have settled in really well, and Ragnar too when he’s come in to play and Moreno when he’s been called on.
“We’ve settled really well at the back and we’re trying our best to keep up good performances like United, when we were more solid and didn’t give them many chances. If you can get a clean sheet, it gives you a chance of winning the game.
“I thought we performed quite well overall. We were the better team on the day and the team that went out there to try to win the game. We did really well but unfortunately couldn’t break them down, which was a bit disappointing on our behalf. But at the end of the day, it was a good point and a clean sheet.
“It shows how far we’ve come. We’re going into every game possible looking to win. We played really well against Manchester United and it was disappointing not to get the goal we deserved to get the three points, but we’ll take the point and move on to the next game.”
Joel Matip in particular has been the subject of praise following a series of elegant displays at the heart of Liverpool’s defence following his summer transfer from FC Schalke.
The towering centre-back has required little adaptation time to get to grips with English football – leaving Clyne suitably impressed.
“He’s done really well,” said the England full-back. “He’s settled in like he’s been playing for Liverpool for a really long time. He’s built a good partnership and has done really well defensively.
“He’s confident on the ball, you see him driving forward from defence and helping to set up attacks. He’s good and I like playing with him.
“He is not fazed by anything. He is putting in good performances and long may they continue.”
On a personal level, Clyne has started all 10 of Liverpool’s fixtures in league and cup so far this season.
Indeed, no player has featured more under Jürgen Klopp since the German assumed the Anfield helm in October 2015.
“That’s good and long may it continue!” he responded, when presented with that fact. “I love playing games, playing week in, week out and trying to improve as a player. Every time I’m called upon, I’ll keep trying to do my best.
“I feel like I’ve come to terms with the expectations that come with being a Liverpool player – you have to put in 100 per cent in every game and every training session. You go out there for the team, for the manager and for the fans. It’s good and keeps us on our toes.”
Clyne’s role in this current Liverpool set-up isn’t simply to act as a traditional full-back – the No.2 is encouraged to move high up the pitch to assist his attacking teammates.
“With the style of play, it gives me the licence to bomb forward, create chances and set up attacks, which I like doing,” explained the 25-year-old.
"It’s good for me and for the team to get the full-backs high up the pitch, especially when we’re in control of the game. It frees up spaces for the attacking players, which will create more chances in the final third.
“The confidence is definitely boosted on my side. I’m just happy playing week in, week out and doing all I can for the team, putting in good performances. That’s what I like doing, so I want to keep on getting better as a player and improving.”