Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will make strengthening his defence a priority next season after conceding more goals than Watford and West Brom.
The Reds have dropped the most points from winning positions in the Premier League in the current campaign and it was a major factor in their inconsistency in his first few months in charge.
Last weekend they squandered a 2-0 first-half lead to draw at home to Newcastle to end a run of four consecutive victories in all competitions.
Klopp’s defensive capabilities have been hampered by UEFA’s initial 30-day suspension – which is likely to be longer with further punishment – imposed on Mamadou Sakho for failing a drugs test.
He has signed Schalke defender Joel Matip to come in during the summer and the German is in the market for cover in central midfield, but in the meantime he has to find a way to shore up his side in their remaining four league matches to prevent their domestic season fizzling out.
“When you build up a team, you start with the defence – that’s how it is,” said Klopp.
“It keeps you in the game and gives you the opportunity to score once and win the game. I’m never happy with conceding goals, to be honest.
“It’s clear it’s how we build up a team and that’s one of the biggest targets for the next season – not for the rest of this season but for next season and then to build up a stability in this part of the game.
“We had different problems in this and we solved a lot of them already.
“Set-pieces were the worst, to be honest. It’s a part of the game where we needed to improve and we did.”
Liverpool head to Swansea on Sunday looking to maintain the pressure on fifth-placed Manchester United, who began the weekend four points ahead.
They have the distraction of a Europa League semi-final second leg, in which they trail Villarreal 1-0, on Thursday, but Klopp insists their domestic form is something which cannot be allowed to suffer.
“We will go there (Swansea) and try to win,” he added. “We know about the situation, we can read the table – it’s easy. If we can win then we change the situation in the table with this game.”
Klopp is likely to use a number of his fringe players at the Liberty Stadium, including giving reserve goalkeeper Danny Ward another outing following his Premier League debut at Bournemouth a fortnight ago, after a 56-hour turnaround following their return from Spain.
It is something the Reds boss has had to do on several occasions this season, mainly due to enforced injuries, but now he is just trying to manage the physical and emotional demands on his senior players.
“To be honest, that’s what we are working on all the time,” he said.
“You have a starting line-up and we always try to keep the rest of players confident too with little talks, with little signs or whatever – especially with training.
“Bournemouth (a 2-1 win) was impressive, Stoke (4-0) was impressive so that’s very important for us and these are the best signs Liverpool can get.
“I’m pleased with the development of the players, but that’s what they have to do.
“Our decision is done and we say, ‘Okay they are more than good enough to play for Liverpool’, and it’s up to the players to show it and perform. That’s not too easy with no rhythm.
“But the only target for this week is to beat Swansea and nothing else.”