16 Sep 2014

Anfield Boost: BR confirms 'excellent £12m LFC star will return this week. Great news?

Over the last year, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has spent a whopping £57m trying to solve Liverpool's defensive problems, but as the Aston Villa game illustrated once again, the Reds still have problems at the back. Thankfully, Martin Skrtel is close to being fit again, and in my view, the 'excellent' Slovakian's return will make a major difference to the club's defensive effectiveness.

In his pre-Ludogrets press conference today, Brendan Rodgers told reporters:

"Martin has worked very hard. He joined the group yesterday, so he's working well. It's too early for this game [Ludogrets[, but he should be available for the West Ham game".

It is absolutely imperative that Rodgers plays a settled back four as much as possible this season, and that means selecting a first choice centre-back pairing, and sticking with it as much as possible.

Some will disagree, but a Sakho-Lovren partnership is not an effective long-term solution, for one simple reason: it forces Lovren to play as a right-sided central defender, which is not his usual position.

For Lyon, Southampton, and Croatia, Lovren almost exclusively played as a left-sided central defender, but now he's at Liverpool, that's changed, and it clearly affects certain elements of his game.

Why spend £20m on a defender and then play him out of position? Granted, injury has forced Rodgers' hand somewhat in the last couple of games, but when £12m-rated Skrtel returns, Lovren should (IMO) be restored to his preferred position.

Going forward, Rodgers should - bar injury - play the following unit as much as possible:

* Manquillo --- Skrtel -- Lovren ---- Moreno

Aces in their places, and everyone 100% comfortable in their position. For me, that's the key to increased defensive solidity, and forcing an experienced centre-back to basically relearn his position (by playing on the right) is (arguably) not conducive to achieving that.

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32 comments:

  1. its all about making the top 4 again, so we can keep all our key players

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  2. We only conceded one goal, which is still a marked improvement

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  3. Agreed on that back 4.
    But we are always going to concede the odd goal. To say that we still have defensive problems from conceding 1 goal is a bit much.

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  4. What's odd about that is that Sakho is left footed while Lovren is right footed. Not that I necessarily buy into the whole mantra about footedness and playing positions - quality wing backs threw that theory out the window years ago - but how has Lovren evolved as a left sided player with a right foot? I guess he's always just been the "lefty" in the team. We would seem to have the ideal situation: one left footed and one right footed CB. Sakho plays on the left, Lovren on the right ... but Lovren has that experience on the left side. So it's an odd situation.


    I agree that the best way forward is to be stable and that means having these players find their roles together, as a partnership. At some point the individual preferences are always going to come unstuck, it's simply not possible to guarantee that your two fit and in form CBs will be a perfect pair. You could even have two right footed right sided players and two left footed left sided players in the squad but what happens if the two right sided players are injured or out of form? Or vice versa? There will always be some scenario where a player has to play on his non-preferred side. And with the number of games we have this season it's impossible for the same CB pair to play every match. There WILL be rotation, so this issue can't just be buried away and ignored. It's already happened once.


    The only solution is to make sure your players are flexible and yes, that means sometimes a player has to play out of their established role. That's why I say it's about stable partnerships, not individuals. Skrtel and Lovren have played together a bit, right and left side respectively. Fine. Then Lovren and Sakho have played together, right and left side. If Skrtel and Sakho play together then it's right and left side, no problem. So yeah, Lovren has to be the one to adapt. Or Skrtel does. Or Sakho does. You can't get around it. I'd probably vote for Lovren because he's the most experienced but then maybe as the most consistently picked player he should be the one to hold down the most fixed role.



    Has Lovren played right side in every game so far no matter who his partner? That would mean Skrtel played on the left and we'll likely see the same formation again on the weekend if Skrtel plays. That would mean that Rodgers has locked in Lovren as a right sided player no matter what.

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  5. Growing up, I remember that lefties were pretty rare. I was happy to play on the left side for all my teams and that's how I developed my left foot. Smashed pens and free kicks in with both. As a result, I can't understand any one footed professional. You see some players and they are just hopeless on the 'non-preferred' side, it should be unacceptable, and coached into every player. So, I understand Lovren's situation. It's not like he has to learn anything new on the right, I'm guessing he would look more comfortable over time.


    He has made some poor decisions though, not just minor errors but mistakes that have stood out and made him look a lesser player. He hasn't had a shocker like Skrtel in the past, but it's a possibility that Sakho-Skrtel could resume soon.


    Did you mean has Lovren played on the left every time? Yes, except when Sakho came in he moved to the right. If anything, Skrtel is locked in on the right.

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  6. So Rodgers is depending on Lovren to be the guy who can switch more easily. You aren't going to play Sakho on the right side and maybe Skrtel hasn't been convincing on the left.


    How did we manage this in 2008-09? We had Hyppia, Carra, Agger and Sktel. Playing stats suggest we had a fairly high turnover rate of players with everyone splitting time to partner Carra, maybe Skrtel still the most likely choice.


    Credit to Carra that season, he played 54 matches across all competitions. I'd be interested to see if Rafa made him switch between left and right to accommodate his various partners or if he just kept him in the same role.

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  7. By the way they call me Gareth Bale

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  8. You guys should play futsal together

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  9. exactly! the longer we can manage to stay in the CL, the more we will get attractive for the worlds best players

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  10. I wouldn't say he is depending on anybody. Have a think about it, there isn't much chance that Sakho will ever be deployed on the right, he doesn't have much of a right foot and there is enough debate already with how good he is with his left.

    Toure is purely a back up. So it makes sense that you play your preferred two in their preferred roles. Lovren wants to be the left sided man, I'm sure if he preferred the right side, he would play right, with Skrtel left.

    I think during his more recent years Carra always played on the right with Skrtel on the left. I'm not sure about Skrtel's early days though. Agger always on the left and Kyrgiakos on the right.



    Carra played fullback quite a bit before cementing a central role, that coupled with the experience that I shared suggests everyone should be able to adapt. So if it's going to be Lovren on the right, he should only get better.

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  11. Nah I'm not his Sydney Olympic level

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  12. That would require me to drop down too many levels.

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  13. Haven't seen Ronaldo do that so obviously I am better than him :)


    If I can adapt, I'm sure Lovren/anyone else can too.

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  14. playing with both feet, especially growing up as a lefty isn't that rare. I had an absolute power house of a left growing up and most people and gks knew it. but my dad was very fond of the dutch mentality and quickly made me learn to play with confidence with both feet. stepping up against a gk that i played with for 8 years and switching from what he thought was my only foot to my right foot in pk shootout completely threw the guy. i was never near as powerful with my right, comfort throughout the swing has a lot to with what you generate for an output, but i was just as accurate and was just as quick in my release and it gained me an edge. elite footballers are not the only people that can use both feet, it is practiced just like anything else. Elite players just happen to do better at both in general because the talent and drive are both there.

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  15. I think you're taking my joke out of context

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  16. Sorry I'm on an 18 hour bender at work. Might be slightly delusional and not picking up on sarcasm

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  17. Skrtel played on the left when partnering Carra in a very solid defence. Think Pepe won the golden gloves that year

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  18. Especially a top notch striker, with killer instincts like Suarez or better still Coasta in his current MAGNIFICENT form ( i can't help but be jealous of the Costa-Fabregas combo)

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  19. Getting Falcao too would have been good

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  20. True. I have learnt to be equally bad with my left or right foot.

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  21. Still not at a level to play in South oz dream on New south Welshmen.

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  22. Skrtel is still injured according to Skysorts

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  23. There is a quote from Lovren about having difficulties as he us at a new club and he is being asked to be the leader. He chose not to mention being on the right. I have seen right footed players adjust to playing on the left many times and without a great deal if problems. Surely a right footed player should be able to adjust to the right side just as easily? God you would hope easier.

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  24. Cars would play left side if he was playing with Skrtel.

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  25. I completely agree with your back 4 thinking JK. I would like to point out though that we look a bit shaky on Defense because our midfield defense is crap; (see Southampton and Villa games)

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  26. Mate, I accessed a regular's age database and I found this...


    Greg (354). Seems your no match for my youthfulness. I was going to offer you a state of origin match before this discovery :)

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  27. But guile and strength and the bit of skill i have left would just be enough.

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  28. Sir, you have a good memory.


    My mates often referred to me as Jose Enrique. Still not sure whether that was a compliment or not haha :)


    I'm actually out of action and haven't played for a fair bit. How I miss getting up and down that left flank

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