Liverpool Club Focus – Skrtel continues to impress at the front and the back as Reds beat Villa

Slovakian centre-half Martin Skrtel has not exactly been a fans’ favourite since he made the move to Anfield four years ago, but the Liverpool defender is currently in fine form as the Reds continue to impress at the back this season. Under normal circumstances and with all centre-backs fit, many supporters would expect to see a Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger pairing at the heart of the Reds’ defence. But Skrtel is keeping vice-captain Carragher out of the team – and Liverpool are coping without him thanks to the impressive Slovakian.

The former Zenit St Petersburg player scored the Merseysiders’ second goal as Kenny Dalglish’s men recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon and Skrtel was also part of a defence which kept their sixth clean-sheet of the season and remained the Premier League’s meanest having conceded just 13 goals so far this term.

In addition to scoring, Skrtel also played a key part in keeping Villa at bay. The Slovakian made one interception, four successful tackles, two important clearances and two further blocks during the game – breaking up an opposition attack once every 10 minutes on average.

And the recently-turned 27-year-old has not just impressed in the recent game. Skrtel has also been Liverpool’s best centre-back in many respects this season. Fresh from participating in every single minute of Premier League action last season, the Slovakian has played more minutes and made more starts than any other Liverpool centre-half this campaign.

Skrtel’s statistics from this campaign are also excellent and provide a good insight into how vital a player he has been for the Reds. He has won 85.3% of his aerial duels, successfully completed a staggering 94.4% of his tackles, made 85 clearances and 15 blocks so far this term – outperforming Agger, Carragher and Sebastian Coates in these areas of the game. Making 553 passes from defence and scoring two goals indicate that Skrtel is not just handy at keeping things tight at the back either.

The Skrtel and Agger partnership is blossoming for Liverpool and the Slovakian is enjoying his time at Anfield. He told the Liverpool Echo: “Daniel is a top quality player and is easy to play alongside. We have a very good understanding on the pitch which is important and we are working hard and enjoying our job. I think we are doing well together.”

In the past, Skrtel has taken a lot of stick from the fans due to some sloppy defending and poor mistakes, but just like Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva, he is slowly but surely being appreciated more at Anfield. And with every block, clearance and tackle, that fondness will continue to grow. Given Skrtel’s terrific form, Kop idol and local hero Carragher, formerly a regular fixture in the Liverpool line-up, must be wondering how exactly he will get back into the team.

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