Brendan Rodgers' Defensive Juggling Act Is Damaging Liverpool's Top-Four Chances

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Brendan Rodgers' Defensive Juggling Act Is Damaging Liverpool's Top-Four Chances
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

If this is a sign of things to come for Liverpool, December could be a very long month for Brendan Rodgers' side.

The news that Daniel Sturridge faces six to eight weeks out with ankle ligament damage was compounded by the worst performance of the season, as Liverpool suffered defeat to Hull City for the first time in the club's history.

 

Deja Vu

This was a throwback to Liverpool of 12 months ago—devoid of creativity with Luis Suarez subsequently cutting a frustrated figure, attempting to do too much himself.

Liverpool's squad looks vastly stronger than a year ago, but the fringe players, when called upon here, were extremely disappointing.

It's easy to write-off the defeat as "one of those days" but in truth, this performance has been coming. The signs have been there.

In their last three away games, Liverpool escaped defeat at Everton, were woeful at Arsenal and only just came away with a point against 10-man Newcastle.

With trips to Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea all to come this month, coupled with other teams in the top half now starting to put together a run of results after slow starts, Liverpool will struggle to maintain their top four place into the new year.

 


Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

 

Juggling The Defence

Since the opening three fixtures, which Liverpool won each 1-0, the Reds have kept just one clean sheet in 10 games—at home to Fulham. Such an issue is surely not helped by the constant rotation of centre-backs.

Today, it was Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure, Skrtel switching to left-sided centre-back. The last two games it was Skrtel and Daniel Agger. Before that, it was three at the back with Mamadou Sakho, and earlier in the season it was Agger and Toure.

 

 

When Rodgers spent £15m on Sakho, it was a surprise that Skrtel remained at the club—giving Rodgers a problem in having four senior centre-backs, plus youngsters Tiago Ilori, Andre Wisdom and Martin Kelly in reserve.

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In fact, the only constant presence in the Liverpool defence, whether that be as one of the three centre-backs or in a regular two-man partnership, is Skrtel. Coincidence?

The Slovakian is somebody who divides opinion among the Anfield faithful—many would prefer Rodgers to give the partnership of Sakho and Agger an opportunity.

Centre-back is the one area of the side that teams rarely change. Consistency and familiarity is preferred as it is essential for a partnership to develop and become solid.

The constant rotation of centre-backs is not helping and Rodgers needs to decide on his best partnership and stick to it—and quickly.

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