Emirates Stadium

Next Game

Arsenal v Liverpool

Saturday, 04 April 2015, 12:45

Barclays Prem

Anfield

Last Game

Liverpool 1 - 2 Man Utd

Sunday, 22 March 2015, 13:30

Barclays Prem

New-look Reds rearguard deserves credit

Credit where credit is due, Martin Laurence believes Liverpool's new-look defence is well deserving of some praise.

Last Updated: 16/10/13 at 15:55 Post Comment

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Level on points with Arsenal at the top of the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers will be very pleased with how Liverpool's season has panned out thus far, with many of the plaudits heaped on the Reds' top scorer Daniel Sturridge. With Luis Suarez returning from suspension to partner the Englishman, it's fair to say that the efforts of Liverpool's defence have been a little overlooked.

The manager has all but admitted that a recent move to a 3-5-2 formation was devised almost entirely as a means to having his two star strikers starting in their favoured positions. Such a dramatic tactical switch puts strain on the defensive pack far more than it would the newly coined 'SAS', but as of yet a new-look Liverpool defence have stood up to the task.

Although Iago Aspas and Victor Moses were brought in to supplement the attacking department, Rodgers signed no fewer than four defenders this summer, while Martin Skrtel, who looked destined to leave the club, was given a second chance. It's an opportunity that the Slovakian has grasped with both hands, starting 5 of Liverpool's league games and accruing a WhoScored.com rating of 7.31.

Skrtel's is merely displaying the sort of commitment that the manager will have demanded after a surprising omission from action in the second half of the previous campaign. Having started just four league games since the turn of the year the Slovakian is back to his best, with only Steven Caulker (12) and Danny Gabbidon (10) blocking more shots and just three players have completed more clearances per game (10.6).

Of Liverpool's defensive unit this season it is perhaps Kolo Toure that has received the most praise, tasked with replacing the retiring Jamie Carragher. The pressure on the Ivorian was alleviated somewhat having signed on a free transfer, but the experienced centre-back is proving that he is still capable of performing at the very top level.

Indeed, the 32-year old's WhoScored.com rating only falls marginally behind Skrtel's (7.23), having made the most tackles per game (2) of centre-backs at the club. When comparing Toure's current figures to those of predecessor Carragher, the loss has been relatively seamless. Carragher averaged just 0.8 tackles and 0.4 interceptions per game in his final season, with Toure winning more than twice as many aerial duels per match in his first 6 appearances (2.2 to 0.8).

Of the current back three that leaves Mamadou Sakho, whose arrival from PSG was perhaps the most eye-catching of Liverpool's new defensive recruits. The 23-year old has adapted to the English game well and possesses the passing ability that Rodgers insists on from his players, a 91% accuracy enough to rank as the best for the club this season. Another team high of 2.8 aerial duels won per game will have appeased the fans, while for a relatively young player his reading of the game has also shone through, averaging an impressive 2.8 interceptions per match.

Those kind of figures have helped the young Frenchman to an encouraging WhoScored.com rating of 7.18 and ensure that all three of the defensive trio rank among the top 10 centre-backs in the Premier League. Indeed, their form leaves Daniel Agger, seen as Liverpool's first choice defender last season, sitting on the sidelines having recovered from a rib injury.

A rating of 6.69 thus far has fallen way short of the standards expected of the Dane. Meanwhile, if the Reds continue to occupy the top positions in the table than it may be a while before the 28-year old gets a chance to stake his claim for the shirt that few would have predicted he'd lose.

Martin Laurence - follow him on Twitter here

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

TEAMtalk Facebook Fan Page

The TEAMtalk fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

S

hould have stayed because we carried him for 6.5 years. And then he has a breakthrough season, and was gone soon after. MU fans, you would be as disgusted had C Ronaldo left in 2007 and not 2009.

godof86
Is Van Persie Slipping Sadly Into The Night?

G

ood grief. Someone guessed that the form English player at the moment might be in his national side with some other players? And that's espionage? Now if they discovered that Emile Heskey was going to be in the starting line up.... at right back.... THAT would be espionage. Give it a rest Roy.

RogerRedHat
Hodgson hits out at Kane leak

H

e may get away with if Liverpool can swap the video with one of Skrtel dancing or something, but if they review the one shown on TV he's screwed.

hump3.
Skrtel denies violent conduct

Footer 365

Luis Suarez rules out joining any English club but Liverpool

Luis Suarez refused to rule out a return to Liverpool and insists he will never play for another Premier League club.

Scotland 6-1 Gibraltar: Steven Fletcher scores hat-trick in European Qualifier

Gibraltar scored their first competitive goal, but Steven Fletcher's hat-trick helped Scotland win 6-1 at Hampden Park.

Manchester United's Radamel Falcao plays down talk of Juventus move

Radamel Falcao has played down talk of a summer move to Juventus and says he is fully focused on Manchester United.

Mail Box

FA Refusing To Learn From Germany

We have a postcard from Germany in the Mailbox highlighting how Greg Dyke's quick-fix approach is all wrong. Also, the clamour for Kane, and size matters, apparently...

Where's The Love For Walcott?

Theo Walcott is wanted by neither Arsenal or Liverpool fans in the afternoon Mailbox. Also, some good points on the FA skewed priorities, and glorious geekery...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company