Having already played 14 games in the league this season, missing only one match so far while also making three appearances in Europe, Daniel Agger is well on the way to his best—or at least his fittest—season yet. It's the sort of topic a fan might feel uncomfortable bringing up for fear that doing so would somehow jinx the player, but in this case it's the player himself who has brought it up—and he believes his improved fitness isn't just down to an unusually lucky run.
"I always enjoy playing football," Agger said. "It’s about being on the pitch, not outside it, [and] the past year has been good for me. You learn all the time when you’re playing football. I definitely do some different things now compared to a few years ago. I try to look after myself better and it’s helping.
"It’s about the way you train, the way you work in the gym, the way you recover—that’s the most important thing. I’ve been helped by the team around me—the physios and the manager. They’ve been giving me the rest and the time to recover."
An improved training regimen and more downtime between games seems a deceptively simple answer to Agger's at times woeful injury history, but the results so far do seem to suggest there's something different about the new Daniel Agger when it comes to staying healthy. It also shouldn't be overlooked that last season also represented one of his healthiest stretches in England, with the player making 27 league appearances and a further eight in the cups.
Along with the 27 appearances in the league and five cup showings in his first season at Liverpool, 2011-12 in fact represented his healthiest run in England—though at present he's on pace to pass both marks with plenty of room to spare. And that is very good news for the club, even if Agger and defensive partner Martin Skrtel haven't quite lived up to the stingy standards set last year when Steve Clarke was in charge of marshaling the defense.
Agger, though, believes that the real problem for the club so far this season hasn't been the occasional defensive lapse as players adjust to a more mentally demanding style of play. The real problem, he believes, has been an inability to put the ball in the back of the net, and it's a problem that was on show once again against Southampton over the weekend despite that Liverpool walked away with all three points.
"We had so many chances," he said of Saturday's match. "We have so many chances in every single game. It’s a bit frustrating that we didn’t score more but the most important thing is that we won. It’s always a concern when you don’t put teams away. We should have buried the game quicker."
As is so often the case, it's hard to argue with the man. Hopefully his newfound fitness will turn out to be a lasting change—and it certainly wouldn't hurt if a few more goals from his more attacking teammates were added to the mix.