Rodgers said of his defence up against opposition strikers: “That has been the difficulty for us, getting that balance, the partnership that could cope with all types of strikers.”
Yet Rodgers hasn’t settled on a combination so far this season for one reason or another. He started off the season with Toure and Agger at the heart of the defence which produced two clean sheets in two games before Toure get injured [Agger may want to thank Simon Mignolet for the first one, though].
The Liverpool boss has also admitted that his defenders have struggled with some of the more physical forwards.
There are two combinations that remain untried at Liverpool so far this season – Toure and Sakho [though they have played together as part of a back three] and Sakho and Agger.
The latter seems hard to imagine as it is incredibly rare to see two left-sided player combine in the heart of the defence, given that at least one of them would be incredibly unfamiliar with the role of playing on the right side having played on the left for all of their footballing days.
The combination of Toure and Sakho could feasibly combine the experience and youth together as well as them both being very physical defenders. The other aspect is Sakho is very comfortable on the ball – a lot more than he is given credit for – whilst although people may have written off Toure in some aspects, he looks like a natural leader of a defensive unit.
Skrtel and Agger have been at the club the longest of the two centre-backs and many would view them as naturally Liverpool’s best partnership – but this was the partnership that has struggled against Romelu Lukaku on several occasions. For all of their qualities as a combination there is evidently a weakness and lack of presence.
Toure and Skrtel played alongside each other against Hull and didn’t look particularly comfortable with each other for whatever reason.
If it was down to me – and a lot of people are perhaps very glad that it is not – I’d go for the combination at the moment of Skrtel and Sakho.
Skrtel’s form has been pretty good so far this season, in particular his positional play which seems to go unnoticed – and while Sakho has looked a little rough around the edges since he arrived at Anfield but that will disappear with more game time. He can be the ball player and he can also combat the physical threat, and it’s a shame they’ve only played one game so far as a pairing. Maybe it’s time to give them another go – and make it a sustained run, injuries permitting.
image: © jbj