The arrival of Mamadou Sakho and retention of Daniel Agger has the potential to decide Liverpool's entire season.
The team's current insistence on winning games 1-0 is reliant on two things remaining constant. The first is being able to boss the game and control possession, ensuring that they are able to dominate. That they already have the talent to do, even without Luis Suarez.
The second—and most crucial of the two—is that the opposition cannot be allowed to score.
Simon Mignolet has already established himself as a Kop favourite following his penalty save in the opening game against Stoke. There's no telling how crucial that save could be for Liverpool's fortunes.
A dispiriting draw in their first fixture would have set a similar tone to the previous season: dominate a game, get little reward.
Yet the save gave Liverpool three vital points, along with the momentum for further victories in the next two games and the league's only 100 percent record.
Mignolet can't be expected to be the entire defence, however, and the team is in need of a strong centre-back partnership. Martin Skrtel performed admirably on his return against United, and Kolo Toure has also started well, but Sakho offers a tantalising glimpse of the future.
Because of this, Brendan Rodgers should immediately look to name him in the starting lineup and let him develop with—and learn from—Agger. While Agger continues to be the subject of transfer speculation, the man with "YNWA" tattooed on his knuckles can probably be relied upon to remain at Anfield for now.
Sakho is an obvious fit for Rodgers' Liverpool regime, with a strong defensive mindset accompanied by great distribution. He's not going to surge forward and arrive in the box, even though his strong aerial presence makes him an ideal threat from set-pieces.
Enrique, Agger, Sakho and Johnson. Skrtel and Toure as back-up CB's, quality defence.— Thomas McCallion (@thomasmccallion) September 7, 2013
Instead, he will solidify the Reds' defence with strong tackling and good communication. Managing director Ian Ayre has already earmarked the Frenchman for Liverpool greatness, via a statement on the club's official site:
I think it's difficult to imagine anyone filling Jamie Carragher's shoes, but what the arrival will do is bring huge strength and experience to the squad. I think importantly, when you see him on the pitch, you see that he's a leader and he's very strong.
He's very much a character and I think that's something that Brendan made clear in his selection and what he was looking for...the manager wanted to bring leaders and people who could dig in when needed. I think when our fans get to see Sakho in action, they'll see he's definitely got all of those characteristics.
Despite both Sakho and Agger favouring their left foot, it's easy to imagine them meshing together. Agger likes to stay on his feet and provoke mistakes from opponents while also looking to get forward, while Sakho is dominant in the air and physical in the challenge.
There's now a definite balance to the centre of Liverpool's defence, and one that could persuade Agger to prolong his career with Liverpool and challenge for trophies.
If the partnership with Sakho immediately takes root, expect that challenge to start right now.