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Stats: Johnson v Flanagan, who should play RB at Liverpool this season?

Glen Johnson (low quality)

We look at which of the two Englishmen should be first choice for Brendan Rodgers in the upcoming campaign.

Liverpool's ongoing pursuit of a left back, be it Albert Moreno, Ricardo Rodriguez or Ben Davies, clearly indicates that Brendan Rodgers continues to see left back as a problem position for the Anfield club.

The inevitable signing of a top left back for a large fee may have implications in other areas of the team. Jon Flanagan, so impressive last season that he almost came from nowhere to secure a World Cup place in Brazil, would remain a versatile player capable of filling in on either flank, but perhaps he is good enough, and deserves a starting spot in his favoured position on the right hand side of the defence.

Though Glen Johnson is the more established option for Rodgers, he is nearing the end of his bumper contract and prone to the odd defensive lapse.

If the Northern Irishman feels there is little difference between the two, he could offload the former West Ham man and save plenty with regards to wages by investing in the 21-year-old Flanagan.

Below we look at the Opta stats from last season to see whether the Liverpool graduate deserves to start ahead of Johnson on merit, or whether Johnson should continue to be first choice:

  TeamPosTackling Accuracy %Poss Won Def 3rd / apps% Ground Duels WonEffective Blocked Cross / appsAppsMins
Glen Johnson Liverpool DF 81.25 2.66 54.31 0.45 29 2,521
Jon Flanagan Liverpool DF 74.68 3.22 52.21 0.26 23 1,898

Johnson shades the defensive stats, mainly on account of his strong tacking accuracy - the 29-year-old won 81% of all tackles he attempted, some 6% more than his younger teammate. Flanagan did manage to win back possession in the defensive third more often than Johnson, but the Liverpool native marginally lost out again in ground duels for possession and effectively blocking crosses.

  TeamPosPassing Accuracy %GoalsGoal AssistTotal Att Assist / appsAppsMins
Glen Johnson Liverpool DF 81.62 0 2 0.97 29 2,521
Jon Flanagan Liverpool DF 82.48 1 1 0.57 23 1,898

Seemingly sealing the fact that Johnson may still be a better bet than Flanagan, if only just, the two time World Cup veteran was a more effective creative influence for the Reds last year, providing more assists, and creating markedly more attempts on goal than his rival. It was the first time in seven seasons that Johnson failed to find the net though, something Flanagan did with aplomb in the 5-0 demolition of Tottenham. The youngster also edges the passing accuracy percentages, very impressive considering that he was operating on a flank he was less comfortable on.

The stats suggest Rodgers should perhaps still go with Johnson this season, though food for thought will be the fact that Flanagan did so well playing out of position. Whether the data would be a little more in the younger player's favour if the two switched positions would be something well worth considering.

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