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Rickety Reds need a solid base

FanZone's Liverpool blogger Rich Garnett bemoans the absence of an imposing centre-back in Brendan Rodgers' squad after the loss to West Brom.

Last Updated: 19/02/13 at 11:49 Post Comment

Agger: Not dominant enough in the air

Agger: Not dominant enough in the air

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool crashed to an embarrassing 2-0 home defeat to West Brom on Monday night, in a result that ruthlessly exposed their lack of mental strength.

The scenario is nothing new to Anfield regulars, who have witnessed their team generally dominate matches for long periods but with no end product. On this occasion, there was a sickening sting in the tail, as Liverpool were punished for their profligacy in front of goal.

It came, as always, just as Liverpool's form had began to look genuinely promising. Two impressive draws with Arsenal and Manchester City were preceded by a 5-0 drumming of Norwich at Anfield.

It seemed certain that Liverpool would keep their upturn in form running, with consecutive home fixtures against West Brom and Swansea raising genuine optimism of six points from their next two matches.

Instead, Liverpool will go into Sunday's duel with an evenly-matched Swansea side having yielded just two points from their last nine.

It was clear that on Monday night the Reds missed new signing Daniel Sturridge, who has hit the ground running with four goals in his first six matches.

The former Chelsea man has made an instant impact at Anfield, striking up a brilliant partnership with Luis Suarez in next to no time. It is clear that Sturridge's pace and game intelligence (an aspect that few seemed to speak of prior to his arrival on Merseyside) have given Liverpool a whole new dynamic as an attacking force, easing the burden on the irrepressible Suarez.

Frustratingly, Ben Foster's spot-kick save from Steven Gerrard put the writing on the wall for the home side and it came as no real surprise when the Baggies (well drilled by ex-Liverpool coach Steve Clarke) were able to capitalise on such wastefulness with an emphatic response at the Anfield Road End.

Liverpool have now conceded two goals in each of their last four matches and the manner in which they have conceded the majority of those goals points to an Achilles heel in the rearguard.

Daniel Agger has received many plaudits during his stop-start Anfield career, including great flattery from his current manager, but the fact is that he joins a growing list of Anfield centre-backs who are simply not dominant in the air.

If Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates took the flak for the Oldham debacle, then Agger has certainly picked up the baton since that miserable day.

Fans of a patient disposition will accept that Rodgers is still very much in the process of trying to mould his team into his ideology and thanks to money being a limited resource, it is not something that can be fixed with an open cheque-book.

But as that magnificent servant of Liverpool's backline, Jamie Carragher, looks to bring his stupendous playing career to a close, Rodgers must surely now be looking for a vocal, dominant centre-back who can move the Reds onto the next level.

As far as I can remember, every great team started with a water-tight defence and until they can unearth the next Sami Hyypia, Liverpool will continue to leak goals for fun.

As pressure mounts to deliver at home, Liverpool will need to dig deep into their resolve to ensure that they pull out a result against the Swan's on Sunday. Another post-match obituary would not be pretty.

By Rich Garnett, FanZone's Liverpool blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @garnster.

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