I remember taking to Twitter coming out of the ground last season after I’d just witnessed one of the greatest nights at Anfield ever. Unable to recall the tweet word for word, it was along the lines of “Whatever they do from now on, Sakho and Lovren will be remembered forever for this night”. Emotional and full of ale I was, but it was true. In the same way we remember Pongolle and Mellor for their role in Olympiakos, Lovren and Sakho will always be remembered fondly for their role in what went on that night.
If you’d of asked me that night, I’d of been adamant that Sakho is our best defender and no matter what the back four is, he needs to be in it. Looking back now, it’s possible I was charmed by his positive on the pitch attitude and his passion towards Liverpool. I wrote a piece in August time for this site naming my best back four, and Matip and Sakho were the central defenders. There were 2 reasons for this, I was never keen on Dejan Lovren on the left side of the central defence as he always struggled there for us and, truthfully, I’d never heard of Ragnar Klavan.
There was uproar in the window when, after Sakho had reportedly misbehaved behind the scenes, Klopp tried to get rid. Cries of “he’s our best defender” rang out from the fan base and most could provide some kind of stat to back that up. There was uproar at Leicester when, after Dejan Lovren pulled out with an eye bigger than Goodison, Klopp brought Lucas in to replace Lovren instead of Sakho.
Fast forward a month and I haven’t seen the name Sakho in a while. Early signs of Joël Matip show that we appear to have a belter on our hands, and Dejan Lovren is looking calm, assured and confident on the left side of the two central defenders. Lovren seems to benefit from having Matip next to him and as a result looks a more assured player on the ball. There’s less of the brain farts we saw with Sakho and Lovren on the ball last year. This budding partnership is great for LFC and for my health, and promises to be the partnership Agger and Skrtel should’ve been but never were.
In reserve, Ragnar Klavan has looked solid in his showings. Contributing to our second clean sheet of the season in the win at Derby, Klavan looks solid in defence and confident on the ball and, unlike many well-documented LFC deals of previous years, value for money. Lucas Leiva has been boss too, apart from when he decided to help his PL fantasy team out and put Vardy in for a goal at the Kop end. The Brazilian is positionally excellent, reads the game well, is good on the ball and is rarely skinned despite having the pace of a Hyppia and Alonso love child.
With a new keeper coming in to hopefully calm the panic Mignolet needlessly generates every game, things are looking good for us at the back. There isn’t the capitulation many expected with the exclusion of Sakho. That’s partly down to the way Matip and Klavan have settled, and partly down to impressive coaching by Klopp. The ball is in Sakho’s court now, work your bollocks off and show in training you can do better than the names mentioned above. So far though, No Sakho No Problem.
Written by @JackMitchell_5