As of writing this piece, Liverpool have just lost to Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium in the Semi Final 1st Leg of the Capital One Cup. Defensively frail again from the Reds and lacking any bite up front led to a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Saints. An issue with Liverpool over the last few years has been the fact that we do not have a good defence. We have competent defender’s in Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, Mamadou Sakho and Ragnar Klavan with Joe Gomez being the one to watch for the future as a 19 year old defender but what is Liverpool’s best partnership and who should it be angled towards moving forward? I want to focus on the 2 CB positions instead of the whole defence as Clyne is a mainstay within the side and Milner has come into his own since adapting to the LB position.
Dejan Lovren, a £20mil signing from Southampton in 2014, is one of the first names on the team sheet at this current moment in time and seems to be constant within the side in all forms of the game. His run at Liverpool has been… hit and miss to say the best. Having a stellar season at Southampton after his Summer move from Lyon in 2013 saw him arrive in Merseyside with a lot of hype which was very much justified. Then a forgettable season for him under Brendan Rodgers in 2014/15 that was probably capped off with a through-ball to Robin Van Persie of Manchester United…who scored and ended the game at 3-0 to the Red Devils at Old Trafford. 2015/16 saw the rise of Klopp’s revolution and Lovren becoming an integral part of the team. His winner against Borussia Dortmund in a 4-3 thriller in the Europa League is a standout moment for him. Now back to the Lovren of 2014/15 where he is very much an up/down player. Someone who can be solid or have a nightmare. A good player nonetheless but one that can always improve some aspects of his game. Lovren is also the longest running player in the CB position coming into his 3rd season at Anfield.
Joel Matip, Jurgen Klopp’s first signing as Liverpool manager when he agreed a deal in January of last year to join Liverpool when his contract expired in the following Summer. 6’4 and exactly the type of player that Klopp felt like Liverpool lacked. Someone who he was willing to wait 6 months for before coming into the Liverpool team. The Cameroon international has been the unfortunate recipient of a few injuries which has cost him some crucial games within his first season as a Liverpool player but someone who has been solid constantly. A misjudged header back to Karius against Bournemouth in a 4-3 loss seems to be the only blemish on his Liverpool run so far but has been a standout performer for the Reds this season when he has played.
Mamadou Sakho… someone who was deemed a future captain of Liverpool Football Club but is now on the fringes of the squad entirely. Has not played a game all season for Liverpool’s first team having been almost exiled by Jurgen Klopp after his Summer antics which Klopp did not take very kindly to. Having been signed prior to Lovren signing, Sakho was a controversial player due to his bambi-like style of play but his consistency in passing range. Someone who Klopp very much rated at the beginning of his tenure but seems to have faded away with Liverpool wanting him to leave as soon as possible.
Ragnar Klavan was a standout performer against Liverpool in the Europa League which eventually led to his signing for Liverpool the following Summer. The newest of all the defenders in terms of when his deal was agree, the Estonia captain is in his first season at Anfield. Good season or bad season so far? I’d say it is pretty much in the middle at this current moment in time. The loss against Southampton was due to his mistake but it could have been much more so if he had not cleared an effort from just under his own crossbar. For Ragnar, it is one of those situations where he will be judged by what he did wrong rather than what he did well but he has performed well when the time for someone to step up in the back has arrived.
Joe Gomez is a youngster that was bought by Brendan Rodgers in his final Summer as Liverpool Manager from Charlton. The youngster was usually deployed at LB under Rodgers but his main position is at CB. Injury has cost him a season under Jurgen Klopp but showed great promise when he was at LB for the beginning of the 2014/15 season. Due to injury (2 have occurred within a season and a half) and lack of game time within the correct position had made Gomez a wild card of sorts for Liverpool and one that can be manipulated to a high degree by the”Mad Scientist” that is Jurgen Klopp.
The main partnership that Klopp has tried to implement is Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren. Matip being more finesse whereas Lovren is more power based but does have very good passing as well. Utilising Sakho in this situation is out of the question because he has fallen out of favour with Jurgen. Klavan has impressed when being used as back up for Matip as Matip has been injured for the past month. Gomez has just come back from injury so the only partnership that can be used is Lovren and Klavan at this current moment in time. So what is the perfect partnership?
For me, it is Matip and Gomez. I feel that this is one that Klopp will also use as soon as Gomez’s fitness is up to scratch seeing as he has just come back from a huge injury layoff. Matip is the way forward and this shows as he was the first signing that Klopp went for as soon as his first Transfer Window opened in January of 2015. Gomez is the type of player and is at the age where he can be moulded into the type of player that Klopp wants. Take Origi for example. The young Belgian was bought in and didn’t instantly take off but he recuperated and added a lot of muscle mass which has helped him to become a Jurgen Klopp type of player. Matip is 25 so has the best years ahead of him and Gomez, at 20, can only get better under the watchful eye of Jurgen Klopp.