Liverpool’s 1-0 home defeat to Southampton yesterday represented a frustrating setback in what had been an excellent start to the season for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Confidence before kick off was replaced with apprehension once the Reds announced their starting line up.
Rodgers was already without arguably his two most creative players, in Philippe Coutinho (injured for up to six weeks) and Luis Suarez – who was completing the tenth game of his ten game ban.
But it was Rodgers’ defensive selection which raised the most eyebrows, with a back four consisting of Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, and new signing Mamadou Sakho.
Essentially the Reds were starting with four natural centre halves.
Rodgers claimed afterwards he was left with little alternative, with Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho both injured, and Jose Enrique said to be struggling with a knee injury – you would hope that was an explanation for his awful performance when he came off the bench after an hour.
Rodgers clearly thought Toure and Sakho would do a better job in the full back positions than Andre Wisdom or Martin Kelly – with the latter still returning to full fitness.
But the pair of them looked uncomfortable on the ball and going forward, and the nervousness in possession seemed to spread throughout the team. The manner in which the corner was conceded which led to the Saints’ winning goal is testament to that.
Rodgers will hope the defeat is not too much of a major set back, especially considering the Reds kept three consecutive clean sheets prior to the international break.
Rodgers has a huge variety of defensive options available to him, of which we have identified five and which one we believe to be the strongest. We’ll give you a clue – it’s not the back four that started yesterday!