EPL: Agger must play

Arsenal's Giroud challenges Liverpool's Sakho during their English Premier League soccer match at the Emirates stadium.

There has been much debate about Brendan Rodgers' favoured 3-5-2 formation.

The fact is, it failed miserably against Arsenal Sunday morning (Singapore time) when Liverpool were beaten 2-0 at the Emirates.

Don't get me wrong. The formation is workable, but you need to have the right players in the right positions.

Obviously, three centre halves provide you with more comfort and cover, but that would be more appropriate against teams who play two strikers.

Arsenal played with just one striker in Olivier Giroud on Sunday morning, so I thought two centre backs would have sufficed.

In any case, Liverpool's three centre halves looked nervous. They were neither confident nor comfortable.

Kolo Toure is a good player but he showed little composure against his former team.

Mamadou Sakho looks like an accident waiting to happen and I have my doubts about him.

And why was Daniel Agger (inset), Liverpool's classiest centre back, on the bench?

Soon, he will be knocking on Rodgers' door asking why he was frozen out of the first 11, and he has every right to do so.

Then we look at the wingbacks and both Aly Cissokho and John Flanagan failed to deliver good balls in the final third.

That explains why both were substituted by Rodgers.

Liverpool fans will be praying for left back Jose Enrique and right back Glen Johnson's speedy recovery from injury and illness respectively.

Rodgers' emphasis on retaining possession means he is always going to go for three men in the middle of the park, but they never looked as fluid as Arsenal's midfield.

Liverpool can keep the ball, but Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva are not passing the ball forward.

I should know, since I played in central midfield for the Reds.

The first question central midfielders should be asking themselves after receiving the ball is, "Can I turn?" and not "Can I pass it back?".

Unfortunately for Liverpool, Henderson and Lucas went for the latter and the ball keeps getting played back.

Up front, Liverpool's SAS partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge never took flight.

They looked flat and were all over the place, but credit must go to Laurent Koscielny who kept Suarez quiet.

Whenever the Uruguayan looked to pull the trigger, Koscielny was there to make a vital block.

It was obviously a case of bad refereeing by Martin Atkinson to deny Henderson the advantage of scoring from a quick free-kick taken by Suarez after he was fouled.

But, the poor call aside, I thought SAS could have scored from open play had either striker played off the slow Per Mertesacker.

DISAPPOINTING

Overall, it was a very disappointing performance from the Reds.

Back to the 3-5-2 formation.

It is still feasible provided Rodgers plays the right defenders - Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Agger in the middle supported by wingbacks Enrique and Johnson.

The Reds scored four against West Brom with the same formation two weeks ago and I expect them to bounce back against Fulham at home on Saturday.

- Ray Houghton was speaking to David Lee


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