With the hectic festive period fast approaching, Kop boss Brendan Rodgers has indicated his intention to utilise squad rotation…
Impressive solo attacking performances from the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez stole the majority of the headlines following Liverpool’s emphatic 4-0 victory over Fulham last weekend.
But the Anfield encounter was also notable for a defensive reshuffle which saw Brendan Rodgers revert to a back four and recall Daniel Agger for his first start since the 1-0 defeat to Southampton in September.
Central defence is an area where the Merseysiders are spoilt for choice currently and his selection, alongside Martin Skrtel, resulted in Mamadou Sakho dropping to the bench and Kolo Toure missing out altogether.
Previously, Sakho had started each of the eight matches following his big money arrival from Paris Saint-Germain while Toure had featured in all but one of the Reds’ 13 games this season.
The alterations could well be a sign of things to come after Rodgers acknowledged he is thinking of using all the personnel at his disposal to keep things fresh.
“I just decided to change it,” said the Northern Irishman, when asked about his thinking behind the team selection.
“I have said to the players that between now and January we have one game a week.
“The players are working very well and very hard on a daily basis but I need to give oxygen to some players, so they can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“It is important that I use the players well.
“Kolo has been sensational since he has been in but Daniel Agger is a top player. I just need to balance the team out when I can.”
The one centre-back not affected by the changes on this occasion was Skrtel and he produced yet another top drawer performance.
The Slovakian, who scored Liverpool’s second against the Cottagers, is back in favour after being dropped last season following a poor run of form.
Despite being heavily linked with a move away at the time, Skrtel grasped a chance to re-establish himself with a fine performance against Manchester United in the third league game of the campaign.
The 28-year-old has subsequently kept his place ever since and it is something Anfield colleague Joe Allen is taking inspiration from during his own spell on the sidelines.
“Martin is the perfect example for anyone who feels frustrated or impatient when they are not in the side,” claimed the midfielder in quotes published by Liverpoolfc.com.
“He’s done brilliantly and my idea is to do the same. Dealing with not being in the team can be tough, but it’s part and parcel of football.
“There will be occasions when you are out of the side. If that’s the case, you have to do everything to put yourself forward for selection again.
“The more you get back out on the pitch, the more things will start to flow properly again. I can’t wait to get my chance.”
Squad rotation is always a divisive subject but sometimes freshening things up can be beneficial even when a side is on a good run. It is a long season and the more players you can keep fresh the better. Obviously as a result of us being out of the League Cup and having no European football this term it is less of an issue than usual but it still makes sense for the odd change here and there. We have our strongest squad for many a year right now so why not try and utilise it whenever possible? Without overly jeopardising results of course. I certainly cannot imagine Rodgers making five or six changes regularly à la Rafa Benitez that’s for sure!
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