Why Mamadou Sakho is no big miss as Liverpool prepare for aerial test

Liverpool could be without Mamadou Sakho against West Ham United, but that could be no bad thing as they prepare to face an aerial challenge.

Liverpool saw Mamadou Sakho forced off during the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea on Wednesday.

The French defender lasted just 57 minutes at Stamford Bridge before leaving the field with a back complaint.

The Liverpool Echo suggests that he is now a major doubt to face West Ham United in Premier League competition on Saturday.

He will be assessed ahead of the weekend, but Brendan Rodgers may decide he is not worth the risk.

Glen Johnson stepped in against Chelsea, but the Reds will be expected to go with more natural cover at centre-half against the Hammers – if they stick with a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Dejan Lovren is back at their disposal, following injury struggles of his own, and there is a case for arguing that the Croatia international would be a better option against Sam Allardyce’s travelling troops.

  Aerial WonDuel WonTotal ClearanceInterceptionAppearancesMins Played
Martin Skrtel 75 106 199 37 19 1,710
Dejan Lovren 57 97 137 26 16 1,218
Mamadou Sakho 21 39 49 13 9 788
Emre Can 19 52 33 10 11 676
  Aerial Won GAMEDuel Won GAMETotal Clearance GAMEInterception GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Martin Skrtel 3.95 5.58 10.47 1.95 19 1,710
Dejan Lovren 3.56 6.06 8.56 1.63 16 1,218
Mamadou Sakho 2.33 4.33 5.44 1.44 9 788
Emre Can 1.73 4.73 3 0.91 11 676

As the Opta statistics above help to highlight, Sakho is not the strongest in the air.

Given that West Ham will arrive at Anfield with a certain Andy Carroll within their ranks, Liverpool need to ensure that they are ready to face an aerial challenge head on.

Carroll, as an ex-Liverpool player, will want to prove a point back on Merseyside and his form over recent weeks suggests that he is someone Rodgers will need to keep a close eye on.

Lovren should relish that particular battle and, with Martin Skrtel alongside him, the Reds should believe that they have enough physicality within their starting XI to deal with anything the Hammers throw at them.

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