We put five key questions after Liverpool’s start to the 2015/16 season to the This Is Anfield writers. Here, the focus falls on the Lovren vs. Sakho debate.
What’s your thoughts on the whole Lovren vs. Sakho debate? Would you sell Sakho this month?
KARL MATCHETT: No, not in a million years—unless Rodgers’ masterplan is sell Sakho and then gazump City for Nicolas Otamendi. It probably isn’t. Sakho is vastly superior in every key defensive trait. Every major chance Liverpool have conceded so far this season has come down Lovren’s defensive channel—he’s a liability and even a very good opening 40 minutes of the season won’t change that.
HENRY JACKSON: As stated above, Sakho is just a better defender. He is better on the ball, contrary to the lazy opinion of some, he is more dominant in the air and he reads the game better. Lovren looks constantly nervous. He was terrific against Stoke though, in fairness.
DAN HOLLAND: I certainly would not sell Sakho. To challenge we need four top centre halves. It is a very close call between Lovren and Sakho for that left sided centre back role. Both have negative points and I think Sakho gets the fans vote because he is a bit more enigmatic.
MAX MUNTON: One of the biggest differences between Liverpool last season and this is how much deeper our squad has got in terms of quality. It feels like Rodgers has realised the need for high-level competition to keep players on their toes and fighting for their places. Sakho provides Lovren with that, and with little other cover in central defence, he certainly shouldn’t be sold.
JOSH SEXTON: Sakho is our strongest defender I don’t think there is much doubt about that. He is the quickest and strongest of our centre backs and is the only one who is comfortable passing out from the back. Selling him would be a huge mistake considering he still has his best years ahead of him.
ANDREW RONAN: Sakho is a better defender. Simple as that. One of Lovren’s weaknesses is that he’s prone to diving into tackles and committing himself when he doesn’t have to – he done it against Bournemouth inside the first 10 or 15 minutes. Sakho seems to know when to commit to a tackle and when to hold off and just jockey his man.
I feel Sakho is better in the air, too. For Bournemouth’s disallowed goal, Lovren was beaten by his man but he managed to con the ref into thinking he was fouled. I don’t think Sakho would have been beaten so easily in the same situation. Sakho is better on the ball, too; he has a good range of passing for a centre-back and he isn’t afraid to carry the ball out of defence.
It looks like he’s a victim of his manager’s stubbornness, though. Rodgers wanted Lovren from Southampton, and when it became apparent last season that he was a disaster waiting to happen Sakho was drafted in to replace him. Now, Rodgers knows he has the chance to prove that Lovren isn’t a waste of money – the opening games are the perfect time for Lovren as the pressure isn’t quite as intense as it will be in a few weeks. The Liverpool manager needs to be careful, though, that Sakho doesn’t feel too aggrieved at his demotion and demand a transfer before the end of the month. If that were to happen, we’d be losing a fine player.
NEIL POOLE: On no planet would selling Sakho at the end of the month be a rational move. I really can’t buy into the current line doing the rounds which says the gap between Lovren and Sakho isn’t as big as people make out. I don’t understand how this is even an argument. Sakho is clearly the better player.
However, Lovren has been ok in the last two games, albeit extremely lucky when the Bournemouth goal was disallowed. Much like Lallana I want Lovren to come good so there is as much competition in the squad as possible. Which brings me back to the idea of selling Sakho being a ludicrous one.
AARON CUTLER: Absolutely not. Sakho is our best defender, both positionally and in possession. His ability to hit vertical balls into the midfield and thus launch attacks is an underrated skill. Yes he looks ungainly but the Frenchman is a class act who rarely wastes a pass. It is surely no coincidence our defensive upturn occurred only once he was restored to the side last term.
Sadly this debate has become somewhat political and the Lovren cause is championed by one Brendan Rodgers.
BEN TWELVES: Sakho should undoubtedly be the man the Liverpool defence is built around. It’s a huge disappointment that he is nowhere to be seen after proving to be our best central defender last season. There’s absolutely no way he would be leaving Anfield if I was in charge.
PJ VAUGHAN: Sakho should be Liverpool’s No.1 centre back, it should be between Lovren and Skrtel who partners him. As far as i am concerned that is the area we should be strengthening and not considering selling our best centre-back.
TOM McMAHON: Selling Sakho would be suicide, I can’t imagine that Liverpool would find an affordable replacement who would want to come into a non-CL side. More importantly he’s our best centreback! So definitely not.
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