Skrtel outshines £20m man in key areas; so what's Liverpool's best defensive pairing?

Liverpool's defenders impressed against Southampton on Sunday, with Martin Skrtel performing well despite all eyes being on the new additions.

It may have been the new SAS who scored Liverpool's goals in their 2-1 victory over Southampton on Sunday, but it was their defenders who stood firm against an impressive Saints side.

Rumours of the club's decline in the face of a sea of summer departures appears to be premature, with Ronald Koeman's side performing well against the Reds.  But it was Brendan Rodgers' side who came away with all three points, after a stellar showing from a back-line who may well have crumbled under the pressure last season.

Much has been said about debutant Dejan Lovren but his centre-back partner Martin Skrtel outperformed the £20million man in a number of key areas, suggesting that Mamadou Sakho will not find it easy to get into the side.

Skrtel made 20 effective clearances at the weekend - almost double that of Lovren who managed 11.  The Slovakia international also won more duels and more aerial battles than his new teammate.

The two men matched each other with one tackle each but Lovren did win twice as many interceptions as the 29-year-old.

  Effective ClearanceDuel WonInterception WonWon TackleAerial WonMins
Martin Skrtel 20 9 2 1 7 90
Dejan Lovren 11 7 4 1 6 90

In short, there are reasons for both players to be proud of their weekend's work. But Skrtel made a huge case to continue at the heart of Liverpool's defence despite many feeling this will be the season when Mamadou Sakho shows just how good he is.

The French international still might, and it is a good problem for Rodgers to have, deciding which two from three will play the majority of his matches when fit and available.

Lovren's composure on the ball is something Sakho still has to learn, while the Croatian also significantly outdid Skrtel in terms of accurate passing, finding a teammate with an impressive 95.65% of his passes compared with his partner's 90.59%.

  Passing AccuracyMins
Dejan Lovren 95.65% 90
Martin Skrtel 90.59% 90

The season is long, and Liverpool will need to call on all their defensive options in the months ahead.  But for those thinking Lovren would form an indisputable centre-back pairing with Sakho, Skrtel's performance on Sunday may force a re-think.

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