Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers may have a bit of a selection dilemma ahead of Sunday’s huge clash with Manchester City.
Centre-back and vice-captain Daniel Agger missed out on last weekend’s trip to West Ham United and was replaced by Frenchman Mamadou Sakho – who along with Martin Skrtel at the heart of the Liverpool defence – put in a very strong performance in a difficult encounter as the Reds stretched their winning streak to nine games with a 2-1 victory at Upton Park.
Agger wasn’t in bad form but his injury prior to Liverpool’s win at the Hammers is unfortunate for him because it would be very hard to drop Sakho ahead City’s visit to Anfield.
In the reverse fixture this season at the Etihad Stadium it was Skrtel and Sakho who lined up for the Reds as Manchester City came from behind to win 2-1. After Philippe Coutinho had given the Liverpool the lead, Vincent Kompany headed home from a corner whilst Alvaro Negredo’s shot was parried in by Simon Mignolet.
The Liverpool side has improved since then and has learnt to adapt to different systems, and will have Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park for this weekend's clash - the Liverpool skipper was absent for the match on Boxing Day because of a hamstring problem.
Sergio Aguero could return from injury for Manchester City for the clash at Anfield on Sunday so would provide a different threat to that of Edin Dzeko who has been leading the line – and has been in very good form – in the Argentine’s absence.
If we look at the statistics, despite making fewer appearances at the back for the Reds this season, Sakho has been the man that has won more tackles, showing that he is more prepared to make a challenge and break up the play.
There is also the question of which style of defender you will want in your side going into this clash, whether you want your defenders to step up and try and squeeze City fairly high up the park and regain possession there, or to approach with a little more caution.
It's probably a little surprising that despite fewer appearances again, Sakho is the man that has made the more interceptions of the two, which perhaps signals his aggression once again.
In other defensive areas it is relatively close. Agger has put in more blocks than Sakho (8-7) whilst he has won more duels than the Frenchman in absolute terms (81-71) but in terms of the average duels won per game, Sakho has the edge.
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Agger has a reputation for being a good player on the ball, but if we look at the amount of accurate passes from the two centre-backs so far this season, in absolute terms the Dane is only ten passes ahead of Sakho (636-626). If we look at their average per game, Sakho is averaging over nine more accurate passes per game than the Liverpool vice-captain.
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It is unlike Rodgers to chop and change his line-up at the back if they have performed well the week before. So unless something happens in training this week, expect the same back four to line up as they aim to keep City at bay and take all three points at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.