'One day you can be a cock of the walk, next day a feather duster': This saying perfectly encapsulates the situation of Glen Johnson at Liverpool.
The 29-year-old's inconsistency has been a worrying factor for Liverpool, along with his defending that seemed to have lost its way in the most crucial point of the season. When the Merseyside outfit were winning 3-0 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Monday, it was Johnson who handed the opposition a way back into the match. The right-back was beaten twice in the space of five minutes, which saw Liverpool exposed to bare bones and eventually draw the game 3-3.
The fact the Liverpool are sitting at the top of the league table is actually a testimony of their attacking prowess. For every two goals the Reds have scored this season, they have conceded one, so that just nullifies the effect that their attackers have made up front. In comparison to the chances created against them, nearly 18% of the attacks have come from the England right-back's side. For a team who won just 50% aerial duels in defensive positions all season, certainly something is going out of track. To add to this, Johnson has won just 41 out of 91 aerial duels in 2013-14.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has adopted an attacking style of play that always pushes the wing-backs into action. While that glamorises their role for the club, it also exposes their weakness on a bigger scale. What makes Johnson a liability is his cover-up runs. Once he goes out on an attacking foray, there is simply no tracking back - as a result most of the time Liverpool defend with just two players.
To illustrate why Johnson is a liability for Liverpool in defence, below is a comparison with two other right-backs in the Premier League - Seamus Coleman of Everton and Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea:
Coleman Johnson Ivanovic
Apps 32 28 35
Goals/assists 6/2 0/2 3/1
Tackles/game 2.2 2.3 1.8
Clearances 2,5 2.5 5.1
Man of the match 1 0 1
Errors led to goals 0 2 0
Average duels won 59% 55% 57%
The above stats clearly show that Johnson is a weak link in the Liverpool backline. While he is a real danger for the opposition while going on the attack, his back-tracking once he has been beaten is poor. At 29 years of age and with just 12 months in his contract remaining, Liverpool might not take another chance with Johnson.
Note: All stats are from whoscored.com and squawka.com