Liverpool lost in more than one way on Monday at the Etihad against Manchester City.
Many would say suffering a 3-1 defeat to the team that took the trophy from you last year would be bad enough. However, throw in the troubles with the back line and this loss leaves lots to worry about for Liverpool
Alberto Moreno, the £12 million left back signing, rolled his ankle in a nasty incident on the turf running next to the pitch. Martin Skrtel took a knock on his leg late in the game from a tackle that should have resulted in a yellow card for Yaya Touré.
Then there’s Glen Johnson who came up limping, before either Skrtel or Moreno got hurt, after a long run and he was unable to finish the match, even though there were no more available subs to replace him.
Liverpool has called it a thigh injury and Brendan Rodgers has already said Johnson will not travel to White Hart Lane to play Tottenham this weekend.
This is a thigh injury that kept him from finishing the last ten minutes of a match in which Liverpool needed him, if for any other reason but to keep the two sides even with 11 players. If the injury is that bad, he could be out for awhile; which isn’t bad news to all Liverpool supporters.
Johnson’s injury will keep him out of a one game for sure, meaning Javier Manquillo or Jon Flanagan will be asked to step in at right back. Flanagan has yet to prove he is 100 percent fit, so Manquillo will probably earn the start.
If either one of these guys can get one good showing that would suggest more opportunities later, then Johnson is in trouble. If Johnson is out for extended time, Manquillo could get comfortable to his new role, after learning the ropes in two or three games and he could take over permanently.
Johnson has been the target of much blame from Liverpool supporters over the last two seasons and seems to be only on the good side of Brendan Rodgers. The 29-year-old has shown his miles in the most recent fixtures and he has shown difficultly retreating after long runs or pressing opponents too high up the pitch.
Johnson is one of the few still remaining from the squad the Rodgers inherited in 2012. His speed had always been adequate enough for Rodgers, who never saw an immediate need to fix that for his pressing system to work at Anfield. However, this past summer Rodgers was very direct in stating the needs to improve his back line.
Lots of time and money were spent to bring in Moreno, Manquillo, and Dejan Lovren. It would be a giant waste of resources to not use all of these guys as much as possible, and use them early. Moreno struggled against Manchester City, but shined at times going forward.
Lovren was the only one to stay healthy throughout all 90 minutes against City, but he had trouble adjusting to the pace of play as well. He had a hand in allowing all three goals, most notably the first one, when he failed to clear the ball as he waited for it to come to his stronger foot.
The moral of the story is Liverpool will have to be patient, as they try to fix a leaky defense that allowed 50 goals last year. However, if they are playing new players and letting them learn by trial and error, why not do that with all of them.
Manquillo, or Flanagan, now have the chance to step in and possibly claim the right back spot for the long term.