Dejan Lovren may have been caught up with rushing out of position trying to kick opponents in the groin, and Emre Can may also have has a sub-par showing at the back—his second in a row—but that just made Martin Skrtel’s performance more impressive. The Slovak centre half doesn’t always get the respect his contributions deserve, but against Southampton it was hard to overlook them.
He spent much of the night covering for his two partners, always where he needed to be to sweep up any messes and at times stepping up smartly between them to press the opposition when the midfield got caught up the field. All told, it was a near perfect performance as the middle sweeper in a back three. There was nothing flashy, just a player who was always there to clean up for those around him.
It’s the kind of performance Skrtel has put in most weeks since Rodgers switched to a back three, and though it limits his chances to show off the occasional cross-field curler with the outside of his foot, it perhaps better suits his natural game. It’s also quite easy to overlook him when he’s doing his job properly, similar to a player like Lucas in midfield who at times will most be noticed by his absence.
Yesterday, it was the absence of those around him at key moments that allowed Skrtel’s quality in the role to be noticed, and it was his performance along with a handful of key stops from Simon Mignolet and a wonder-strike on an otherwise quiet night by Philippe Coutinho that won Liverpool the match.
Video by MrBoywunder