Liverpool FC Defensive Crisis : What Do the Reds Need to Do for Next Season

Abhijit RajaCorrespondent IApril 6, 2011

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16:  Daniel Agger (L) and Glen Johnson of Liverpool compete with Jermaine Beckford of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 16, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The recent injuries to players like Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly and Fabio Aurelio have once again exposed the defensive frailties of Liverpool.

Hence, it may be time to look forward to the next season, evaluate the Liverpool defense and consider what needs to be done over the summer to improve the situation. 

Over the past decade, Liverpool was always known for its great defense. They had one of the best defensive records in the League, especially under Rafael Benitez.

At the heart of the defense was the legendary pair of Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. Such was their effectiveness that Liverpool conceded less than 30 goals and had an average of 20 clean sheets per season from 2005-06 to 2008-09.

However, it started to go all wrong last year when Liverpool conceded 35 goals. They followed up that performance by conceding 38 goals in 31 matches this season.

There are three important components of a good defensive unit—the goalkeeper, the central defenders and the full backs.

Liverpool arguably have one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Pepe Reina. It would not take a genius to figure that Liverpool would try its best in retaining his services. 

However, if he does leave, then replacing him with an equally competent goalkeeper is absolutely necessary. As a Liverpool fan, I sincerely hope that Pepe Reina remains a Red next year as well.

Next come the central defenders. 

Liverpool, currently have five central defenders—Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Sotorios Kyrgiakos and Danny Wilson. 

Jamie Carragher, though still the leader of the defense, is getting older and needs to be eased out of the team very soon.

Daniel Agger has spent more time on the doctor's table than on the field and threatens to become another Aurelio—great quality, but too injury prone to make an impact. 

Skrtel and Kyrgiakos are not the best defenders, and their shortcomings have been exposed on more than one occasion this season. Danny Wilson needs some more experience before he starts making a consistent impact on the first team. 

Hence, Liverpool desperately needs to sign a quality center-back in the summer, both to replace the ageing Carragher and to provide cover to the injury-prone Agger—a player like Gary Cahill or Per Mertesacker would certainly help. 

The youngsters such as Wilson, along with Coady and Wisdom, need to be given their opportunities in the Cup matches to continue their development next season. 

Martin Skrtel should only be used as a back-up and Kyrgiakos needs to be offloaded, as he does not seem to be good enough for Liverpool.

Next come the fullbacks. 

Liverpool do seem to have two of the best right backs in the League in Martin Kelly and Glen Johnson, though I would prefer Martin Kelly to move to his more preferred Center Back position in the long term.

And with the continued development of John Flanagan, who has traveled with the first team on more than one occasion, Liverpool seem to be amply covered in that position.

The left-back position has been the problem area for Liverpool for some time now. 

Liverpool currently have three senior left backs registered with the team in Aurelio, Insua and Konchesky, although Insua and Konchesky are currently out on loan.

The decision to send Insua on loan has been one that has been questioned by many, but sending out Konchesky on loan, when the only other recognised left-back in the squad was Fabio "ever-injured" Aurelio, was a disaster (even considering Konchesky's quality or the lack of it).

Liverpool definitely need to buy a quality left-back in the summer. Although the fans would prefer to have someone like a Fabio Coentrao or Taye Taiwo, it seems that someone like a Leighton Baines, Gael Clichy or a Jose Enrique would be more realistic options.

This, coupled with bringing Insua back from loan and promoting Jack Robinson to the first team (and having Aurelio whenever he is not injured), should be enough to cover the left back position. 

Below is the defensive formations mentioned that should be enough for Liverpool to start competing at the top next year.

Preferred Defensive line-up for next season in the league:




Preferred Defensive line-up for next season in the Cup matches:





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