How these two Liverpool players could see their place at risk in the near future

Martin Skrtel

Reports of Joel Matip joining in the summer won't go away, which could see a major shift in how Liverpool's defence operates.

If there is one thing that we can read into Jurgen Klopp and his transfer dealings so far and several newspaper reports from well placed journalists, it is that the Liverpool boss feels that central defence is a problem.

This may be down to the injury crisis that has hit the club hard so far in January but the signing of Steven Caulker on loan until the end of the season from Queens Park Rangers, and that Joel Matip seems close to joining on a free transfer from Schalke in the summer, as reported by the Daily Mirror, suggests that Klopp feels it is an area of the field that needs addressing. Though, subsequently, Klopp has been pretty tight-lipped when it comes to Matip when asked.

There is a common denominator in both Caulker and Matip - they are both taller than the collection of defenders that Klopp inherited from Brendan Rodgers. It indicates that heading is a problem. 

During his time at Schalke, Matip has played on the left side of the defence, but given that he is right footed - and given that Klopp has moved Lovren to other side of the defence because of similar circumstances - there are likely to be one or two defenders looking over their shoulders. 

  PositionTeamWon Header DuelsHead Clearance GAMEEffective Head ClearanceAerial Won GAMEAerial Lost GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Dejan Lovren DF Liverpool 78.69 3.29 36 3.43 0.93 14 1,120
Martin Skrtel DF Liverpool 66.67 2.94 45 2.59 1.29 17 1,481
Kolo Touré DF Liverpool 66.67 1 3 0.5 0.25 4 93
Mamadou Sakho DF Liverpool 64.52 4.5 49 3.33 1.83 12 1,022

In terms of heading ability, Lovren seems way ahead on most aspects of aerial ability. He wins more of his aerial duels as a percentage, wins more in the air per game and loses fewer than both Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho. Toure's numbers could be something of an anomaly due to only making the four league appearances so far this season.

Sakho and Skrtel are pretty close in their aerial duels - with Skrtel leading on the percentage - but Sakho leading on overall duels. He seems to relish the battle more if he's not targeted whereas there have been times Skrtel has been bullied - but these two are going to be the players nervously looking over their shoulders with this policy that Klopp seems to have with his central defenders in the transfer market at present. 

But Lovren looks the most assured, Kolo Toure in the twilight in his career, you feel, will not be a factor ahead of next season.

From the numbers, it is little surprise there has been an improvement in Lovren's form under Klopp and that he may well see him as one of his main defenders going forward. Matip is not going to arrive at Liverpool to sit on the bench, so two of Liverpool's more established defenders have a lot of food for thought. 

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