Agger a bigger loss than Gerrard for Liverpool’s trip to Fulham
With Liverpool stuck in no man’s land in seventh spot in the Premier League, unable to challenge those above them or be caught by the chasing pack, it makes sense to give Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger the rest of the season off.
Agger will sit out the games with Fulham and QPR to undergo treatment on his back, while Gerrard requires surgery on a shoulder problem.
There is little debate that Martin Skrtel will come in for Agger, while Brendan Rodgers has options in terms of replacing Gerrard.
Jonjo Shelvey would be the like-for-like replacement, while if Rodgers takes the more adventurous route for the trip to Craven Cottage, Fabio Borini or Suso could start in the wider areas, allowing Philippe Coutinho to switch to a more central role off Daniel Sturridge.
With Gerrard recognised for his usage of the long ball, any of these midfield changes would potentially see Liverpool become less direct and with an even greater emphasis on retaining possession.
However, the absence of Agger could be a problem in attempting to work the ball through midfield as it is no secret that he is the far superior of Liverpool’s three first-choice central defenders in terms of being comfortable in possession.
Not allowing Agger time to build from the back has been the focus of some of Liverpool’s opponents of late, whereas they have been nowhere near as quick to press partner Jamie Carragher, who is unlikely to play game-changing passes from defence.
With Fulham having Dimitar Berbatov in attack, who it is fair to say is not as diligent in his defensive work from the front as other Premier League strikers, Agger would have had the opportunity to instigate attacks from deep.
It is doubtful whether Skrtel or Carragher have the same capabilities, meaning Liverpool may struggle to work the ball through midfield in the manner in which they would like.
What it also means is that Fulham may be overpriced at 11/4 to beat Liverpool for the third time in four meetings, while Liverpool to score under 1.5 goals at 10/11 may be worth some interest.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.