Pitchside

Why Sakho’s more to fear than Skrtel from Lovren’s arrival

Pitchside

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Liverpool have been busy this summer in the transfer market, bringing in over half a dozen players and there are still more expected to come in.

Rickie Lambert, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Javier Manquillo and Divock Origi have all been brought in to bolster the squad, while Alberto Moreno is expected to join up soon after completing his medical.

However, despite Moreno set to be the clubs third defensive addition, it seems as though Brendan Rodgers may be unsure on who to field in the heart of the defence. Liverpool's Achilles heel last season was the calamitous individual mistakes that hampered their progress towards claiming a first title in 19 years.

Martin Skrtel, despite netting seven league goals, was lambasted for his continuous errors and Kolo Toure failed to cover himself up in glory. Daniel Agger suffered with injuries, which has prompted speculation about his future and Mamadou Sakho's 'awkward' looking play left much to be desired.

However, Lovren has now come in and he is expected to start against Southampton on Sunday, particularly after his shrewd display against Borussia Dortmund last week. However, with Skrtel favourite to partner him, Sakho seems to be breathing down his neck which leaves the question: who should partner Lovren on Sunday?

Rodgers is doing his best to learn from the likes of Mourinho and co. as he seeks to find harmony between his attacking approach and a vulnerable back line that conceded 50 goals in 38 matches - the eighth-worst record in the top-flight.

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Skrtel may have been responsible for a few of those goals due to his positioning and questionable number of own goals, but the Slovakian colossus had the higher Squawka Defence Score (15.50) than France's number one man at the back (11.96) per ninety-minutes in the league last term.

There was little to choose between the pass accuracy of both Liverpool centre-backs, but Sakho came out on top in that department (92%) - marginally. Sakho seemed the more agile on the floor, winning 1.52 tackles over a game compared to Skrtel's 1.01. However, that was as good as it got for the former Paris Saint-Germain star.

Skrtel a formidable threat in the air, as demonstrated by his goals against Arsenal, Fulham and Cardiff, among others, won 3.49 headers over the ninety-minutes while Sakho was behind on 2.80.

Skrtel was also the more alert to danger and by helping to nullify it, he completed more interceptions (1.70) and blocks (1.06) than Sakho, as well as boasting more clearances per game (11.82).

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There was a sense that merely buying another centre-back was too simplistic to address the issues that ultimately cost Liverpool the title in a memorable season. It was not necessarily that the defenders Liverpool possessed that lacked the requisite quality to mount a challenge at the top of the table, but rather Rodgers' swashbuckling style that was guilty of leaving the back line exposed too many times, particularly compared to their fellow title challengers.

However, with Lovren now in the rankings it seems Liverpool are on the verge of building a wall, which will need Martin Skrtel alongside him.

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