Liverpool have won plenty of plaudits this season for their attacking nature of play and willingness to outscore teams on their way to three points.
The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho have all contributed significantly throughout the season to the huge number of chances created, while the former two names in particular have been red hot in front of goal.
At the other end of the pitch, however, it hasn't quite always been the same, with the defence being widely criticised at times after conceding a number of needless goals.
Own goals, sloppy marking off set pieces and questionable decision-making have all led to more going past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet than necessary.
While manager Brendan Rodgers will no doubt look to add even more firepower and creativity to the team in summer, the defence also requires attention. And if Rodgers deems it to be the best course of action, a completely clean sweep of the back four should not be reason for concern or worry for Liverpool supporters.
There are those who would be reluctant to see the likes of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger or Glen Johnson leave; all of them have been at the club for a significant period of time and have contributed to good performances and winning trophies.
However, it is undeniable that given the way Rodgers wants to play, with the midfield pressing hard and looking to attack whenever possible, the defence needs to be able to take care of itself a little better next season.
Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling—or whoever else comes in—won't always be able to hit the back of the net multiple times to claim three points.
At the weekend at home to Swansea, Liverpool conceded three goals and needed four to get the win. At least two goals were highly preventable.
The defence is capable; the team as a whole is capable; but the shifting emphasis (and team shape) since then toward an almost all-out-attack means there are greater stresses and less deep-seated protection in place for the back four than there was in August or September.
Some might point to the potential of destabilising the team if too many changes are made; true, but if one particular part of the team already isn't functioning well enough, there is little danger in changing that which is in place.
Mamadou Sakho is a cert to be involved for the long haul. Loan defenders Tiago Ilori and Andre Wisdom may have some part to play in the near future, and full-back Jon Flanagan has certainly earned the right to at least challenge for his place in the coming seasons.
Beyond that, though, uncertainty and deliberation will likely hold sway over the futures of the more senior, established defenders—and even more so if Liverpool go on to assure themselves of Champions League football next season.
With all respect to the Premier League team, if the likes of Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Jonjo Shelvey create havoc and chances against the back line of Liverpool, what will happen when the likes of James Rodriguez, Lucas Ocampos and Joao Moutinho come to town? And that's only Monaco, likely to be a fourth seed. Let's not even get started on the top seeds the Reds get drawn against.
Rodgers has carefully addressed the balance of his midfield and attack. Now, the defence needs the same. It might be that fairly large-scale changes are required this summer to give the manager the traits and leadership in that area of the pitch he requires, and it shouldn't be something that fans fear.
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