Johnson's Appearance Record Glosses Over Poor Form

Mike Hewitt

Glen Johnson's appropriately delighted with featuring in all but two of Liverpool's Premier League matches, but his disappointing form over the second half of the season didn't warrant such a feat.

Much has been made of the improved fitness of a number of Liverpool's squad members this season; both Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger were available far more often than in seasons past, to the tune that the former was in line to play every Premier League minute (misguided as it may have been) and the latter had eased past his highs from seasons gone by and dashed any fears that this season would be like so many others since his arrival.

Another player whose fitness was relatively improved was Glen Johnson, who spent much of the early season deputizing at left-back before resuming normal service over the final months in his more natural right-back position. Out of the gates he was among the country's best at both positions--much more solid defensively than in previous seasons and more than capable going forward, he had staked a claim as one of the most influential and important fullback in the league.

And then his form fell off a cliff. With nobody waiting in the wings to challenge his spot, though, he found himself appearing in 36 of Liverpool's 38 Premier League contests, easily surpassing his previous best of 28. That's impressive and encouraging from a fitness standpoint, but as far as form goes it was worrying to watch, and aside from a match or two--QPR in the season finale being one--there was nothing to indicate that he was anywhere close to recovering his early-season influence.

We've rehashed the problems caused by lack of depth across the back before, and it's no different here. Back in the fall Johnson was able to capably spell Jose Enrique, and with Andre Wisdom doing a serviceable job on the right, the problems were temporarily addressed. As Wisdom faded from contention, though, Johnson went unchallenged through the rest of the season, and Liverpool were worse off without the competition to push a player who was clearly out of sorts.

It's wonderful that Glen Johnson was able to feature so regularly for Liverpool, and we can hope that his fitness will be at a high level again next season. We'll also hope that his form reaches its early-season heights, though, and that if not Liverpool will be able to add the depth necessary to either challenge or replace him if he experiences the same types of struggles he did this season.

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