Why Martin Skrtel Deserves to Keep His Place in the Liverpool Team
If you’d asked a Liverpool fan in the summer to name their first-choice back three, they’d have probably named, from right to left, Kolo Toure, Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho.
Indeed, that may well be the line-up that Brendan Rodgers goes with for this Saturday’s Premier League clash away at Newcastle Utd.
Skrtel was no doubt filling in for Agger, who was still in rehabilitation from his “freak gym accident” as Brendan Rodgers put it in the Independent. When he was brought in to Liverpool’s defence this season, for the 1-0 victory over Manchester United at the start of September, many labelled him squad cover.
But after flirting with a summer transfer window move to Napoli, the Slovakian has revived his career at Anfield with some more than sound performances this season.
His positioning has looked much more astute this time round—he seems more mentally focused on the game. A vast improvement to the early-season lack of form he showed a year ago.
On the ball Skrtel has looked confident and comfortable, completing 50 of his 50 passes made in Liverpool's 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace two weeks ago.
As this diagram from Squawka.com shows, those passes were controlled and organised, adhering to Liverpool’s pressing tactics.
Despite Liverpool’s 3-0 lead over Palace at half-time, the visitors had large periods of the game under their control, creating waves of attacks that made Liverpool look shaky. Skrtel, however, was resolute in between Toure and Sakho, and later Agger, when the Dane replaced the tall, French summer signing half way through the second half.
But four doesn’t go into three, and fitting Skrtel into a defence ripe with talent is a very privileged dilemma.
It could be hard to begrudge in-form Skrtel a place in Liverpool’s starting line-up.
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