In our last poll, we asked if it was important for Liverpool to include at least one traditional winger in its Plan A, first choice starting eleven. It could mean continuing with Stewart Downing, or it could mean searching for another option in future transfer windows, and it wouldn't preclude alternate approaches based on opponent and form, but on the whole readers overwhelmingly felt that having a traditional winger as part of the club's preferred approach was important to the tune of 66.41% for and only 33.59% against. And with that question out of the way, it's time to move on to an issue that has been front and centre over the past few weeks, with Jamie Carragher's recent injury providing the chance to see some of Liverpool's other options at centre back.
In short, who would you start as the first centre back pairing? Are you a Carragher loyalist who would slot him back in as soon as he's healthy? Is Agger too injury prone to include if you buy into the idea that stability in the middle is the key to defensive solidity? Has Martin Skrtel's improved form over the past year removed doubts that formed over the previous two? Or is it even time to throw caution to the wind and move Martin Kelly inside should both he and Glen Johnson remain fit for an extended period?
Elsewhere on the pitch, some will defend the inclusion of Jordan Henderson over Dirk Kuyt because they believe it's better for the club's future if Henderson gets time to develop now. In defence, where Carragher is getting on in years and for some Martin Skrtel is no longer a legitimate first choice despite that improved form since Steve Clarke arrived, can a similar argument be made for including Coates in the first choice pairing today for what it would bring to the club in future seasons? Based on his performance in the League Cup, a near perfect outing aside from one major error that began the sequence of events leading to Stoke City's goal, some might even argue that Coates has shown more in his time on the pitch this season to argue for his regular inclusion in the starting eleven than Henderson.
Last autumn, the Daniel Agger-Martin Skrtel pairing was, as expected, the preferred choice of Liverpool Offside readers. Surprisingly, however, that pair's victory was exceptionally narrow, with the proposed partnership of Agger with Sotirios Kyrgiakos missing out on top spot by only a handful of votes. Since then, Kyrgiakos has of course left—and he didn't exactly cover himself in glory in the second half of last season, when he seemed to quite nearly guarantee the opposition a penalty kick in every game he played. In the case of Agger, his ongoing injury concerns haven't gone away over the past twelve months, and even if he's been relatively fit this season there are more now who believe his fitness record is an insurmountable problem. Meanwhile, Carragher's another year older and the club have acquired a young centre back who seems likely to anchor the line in the coming years.
So let us know who you'd like to see as Liverpool's first choice partnership week in and week out for the rest of the season. Are you focused on immediate results? Putting a priority on future development? Looking to cover for players with injury concerns? And as always, let us know the reasoning behind your vote in the comment section.