Brendan Rodgers spends extra time getting Liverpool's balance just right
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he has paid more attention to defensive matters this season but insists it will not compromise the team's attacking fluency.
Some shaky displays at the back in the previous campaign - which culminated with them conceding three at home to Crystal Palace and six at Stoke - had prompted calls in some quarters for a specialist defensive coach to be brought in.
Rodgers was adamant that was not the solution but over the summer he has been more specific on the work he has done to tighten up his defence and has been rewarded with three successive clean sheets which have brought seven points.
"We've put in extra work and focus on that," he said.
"We are doing extra sessions on every aspect of our defending in terms of in-game static and moving positions and our set-pieces.
"We are putting in an awful lot of work into that organisation, it is one of the things I picked up on from last season.
"We brought in a lot of players thinking they could maybe settle into it quickly but the learning aspect from that was that I needed to do more on that (defensive) front this season.
"That is something we have done. The coaches have been outstanding just making sure the players are clear in terms of their roles and responsibility both with and without the ball."
They may have only scored two goals so far but Rodgers said it was still early in the season and he was confident a stronger defensive set-up would not affect his preference for free-flowing, exciting football.
"If you look at how I have always worked the pressing element and defensive organisation is crucial to that," added the Liverpool manager, ahead of the visit of West Ham.
"People always associated with the football and fluency but that does not come unless you have possession of the ball.
"In different games we will set up slightly differently, like we did at Arsenal, where the plan was to dominate the space in the game.
"It doesn't compromise the style at all. I am happy with the evolution of the team this early but there is a lot more to come from it and it bodes well for this season."
Rodgers has been boosted by the return to training this week of striker Daniel Sturridge, who has spent most of the last four months in the United States recovering from a hip operation.
The aim is to have him back in the squad by early September but Rodgers would not put a specific timeframe on the injury-plagued England international's return.
"There is no timeline on Daniel," said the Reds boss, who also confirmed last summer's £20million signing Lazar Markovic still has a future at the club despite him set to sign on loan for Fenerbahce.
"He has obviously been away working in America and has come back and now it is just about him working hard to get back in to somewhere near the level of the group.
"He looks well and really excited to be back among his team-mates, so we will just have to take that week on week."