The key advantage Liverpool have over Arsenal in race for Southampton defender

The prospect of greater game-time at Anfield could give Liverpool the edge over Arsenal in the race for Dejan Lovren.

The Southampton defender is reportedly the subject of a bid from Brendan Rodgers' side, with the Gunners also said to be interested in signing the Croatian.

However, with the 24-year-old an established first-team regular at St Mary's, he will likely be more tempted by the move that would give him the highest chance of being a starter.

And though Liverpool have more centre-backs in their squad, that chance will almost certainly be larger at Anfield. The reason is a simple one: the partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.

  TeamPosGoals ConcededClean SheetAerial WonWon TackleEffective ClearanceAppsMins
Per Mertesacker Arsenal DF 39 16 97 29 247 35 3,150
Laurent Koscielny Arsenal DF 25 16 53 41 234 32 2,741

As Opta stats show, the Arsenal duo - who clash later today at the World Cup - played the majority of the Gunners' Premier League campaign last term, where injuries were the main reason for any absences.

The pair kept 16 clean sheets between them, with their side only conceding 25 goals when Koscielny was on-field. Aerially, the experienced Mertesacker reigned supreme, while his defensive partner won more tackles.

As a duo, they don't need replacing. Who might need replacing is Thomas Vermaelen, who could be on the way to Manchester United. The Belgian, though, played the role of a backup player last season, being restricted to just 14 league appearances.

Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 36 3,222
Daniel Agger Liverpool DF 20 1,420
Kolo Touré Liverpool DF 20 1,439
Mamadou Sakho Liverpool DF 18 1,480

By contrast, Liverpool's centre-backs shared a huge number of games between the four of them. Martin Skrtel was the only real ever-present, while form and fitness meant Rodgers often selected either Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure or Mamadou Sakho.

But the Reds still ended up conceding 50 Premier League goals last term, a figure that often cost them vital points. Should Lovren move to Anfield, then, he'll have a chance to cement himself as a regular partner for Skrtel - or at the very least share a high number of games with Sakho or Agger, depending on if the Dane doesn't leave Merseyside this summer.

The prospect of more playing time is thus a key advantage for Liverpool in the race for the 24-year-old's signature. Though it remains to be seen how much of a factor it will play in negotiations.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch