In a perfect world, Mamadou Sakho would be fit to face West Ham on Saturday. Having played through the pain for an hour against Chelsea before it became too much for him and he had to be substituted, it’s unlikely we live in such a world. And so today we want to know, if you were picking who starts in defence for Liverpool when they face West Ham, which out of form defender would you rather see come in?
Glen Johnson appeared favoured by Brendan Rodgers and the coaching staff, or at least he did before Tuesday’s dire performance at centre half after he and not Lovren came on for Sakho. That Johnson, a career fullback who has had a poor season and is likely to leave in the summer, was chosen to come on over Lovren speaks volumes about Lovren’s fall, but with Johnson’s performance so poor there’s no saying who’s favoured now.
Still, Johnson didn’t look so bad when given the chance against Bolton, and West Ham pose far less of a threat than Chelsea did. That could help to make a case for playing him at the back over Lovren, both for his on the ball skills and because Johnson is a better fit for a side looking to play a patient possession game while Lovren has shown himself to be far too fond of bypassing midfield completely and attempting reckless Hollywood balls.
Yet while Johnson’s performance against Bolton may not have been so bad, it’s hard to overstate just how terrible he was against Chelsea. He’s also never going to be a long-term answer at centre half. Lovren, having arrived as the club’s most expensive ever defensive signing last summer, in theory at least could be. That he so far has shown no sign of actually being the answer is worrying, but eventually he will need to be given another chance.
Lovren cost a great deal of money for a centre half, and he was meant to fix Liverpool’s broken defence. Instead he made it worse. Yet despite his frequent mental errors, positional issues, and lapses of concentration, he clearly has talent. In an ideal world, Sakho would start on Saturday and the Lovren conundrum—finding a way for him not to go down one of the biggest flops in Liverpool history—could be ignored for another week.
This doesn’t look likely to be that world, as one of Liverpool’s two less than ideal options looks destined to be handed the start. Which would you prefer—or at least hate less—to see?