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Could Glen Johnson's Knee Injury Help Liverpool?

Liverpool announced that Glen Johnson will miss at least a month after tearing a knee ligament.  It may be paradoxical to claim this for a recent £18m signing, but Johnson’s absence may aid the Reds in their battle for fourth.

Johnson is an attacking right back.  He’s adept.  He gets forward with power and pace.  He spreads and penetrates defenses, presenting another angle of attack.  Such a forward running fullback can be devastating, in the right system.

Barcelona uses Dani Alves in a similar role to Johnson.  He races down the touchline.  He plays direct balls into the box.  He darts inside, creating space on the wing for Messi.  Alves vacates his defensive position, but it’s seldom an issue as Barcelona holds possession.  They rarely give the ball away in a disadvantageous place.

Liverpool is not Barcelona. The Reds are physical, attacking directly with haste.  Steven Gerrard has many strong suits.  Keeping the ball isn’t one of them.  Liverpool race down the pitch with the ball, but more often than not, give it straight back.

That style is not without virtue.  It unsettles complacent European teams (see Liverpool’s generally stellar record in Europe).  But, with English teams that play a similarly direct counterattack, it can leave them exposed (see Liverpool’s hiccups domestically that knock them from title contention).

If Glen Johnson runs forward, and Liverpool turn the ball over.  His right back position is wide open.  He either can’t get back, or is scrambling and not as effective.  Perhaps Jamie Carragher is not undergoing a mysterious atrophy, but is asked to cover too much ground for the ever advancing Johnson.  At the very least, Johnson’s positioning is exacerbating Carragher’s difficulties.  Unlike with Barcelona, a marauding right back in Liverpool’s system is a liability.

Even when Johnson is in position.  He’s not an instinctual defender.  When feasible, teams deliberately attack him as the weak point in Liverpool’s back line.  Liverpool have allowed 23 goals in 20 matches (They conceded only 27 all last season).  The major alteration was adding Johnson.

Glen Johnson was more expensive than Liverpool’s previous right backs, Finnan and Arbeloa.  He may, in a vacuum, offer more than either of them.  But, Liverpool have been terrible since Johnson arrived.  Maybe a reliable, unspectacular right back is the tonic they need.

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  1. macarena

    August 19, 2010 at 11:32 am

    es el mejor futbolista q e visto 🙂

  2. macarena

    August 19, 2010 at 11:31 am

    es el mejor futbolista q e vistoo me encanta CMO juega es un eroe !!!! bssoss te qiero glen johnson (L)

  3. john

    January 6, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Johnson has failed to fill the shoes of his predecessors, and can only agree that his absense could be a blessing and that this explains the increase in the goals against us.
    It would also be a complete waste of money to buy a temp cover for him,
    if the club was managed properly we should have an automatic replacement available within the ranks if not why not?
    yes we also have many players unable to hold on to the ball {A Basic}.
    Why do we fail to hold on to good players and then again why are many good player pushed out.
    Since Rafa got the power to be involved in all areas of the club business and conned the management into a 5 year contract, together with is miserable manmanagement failings, he has confused himself and the players. Infact would it pay us to do without a manager till the end of season and let the players play and play their natural game, it couldn’t be worse

  4. Django

    January 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Is this a poorly written ode to Ernest Hemingway with all the short, direct sentences?

    “If Glen Johnson runs forward, and Liverpool turn the ball over. His right back position is wide open.”

    “Even when Johnson is in position. He’s not an instinctual defender.”

    I am confused. By this writing style.

  5. Dylan

    January 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Shhhhhh, Capello might read this…

  6. Kevin

    January 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

    The real problem is Dirk Kuyt. If you find someone who can actually play on the right wing and open up space they will be fine. Dirk is also the reason alot of those turnovers happen. He has an awful touch. I love how hard he works but he isn’t good enough to be in the starting 11 every week.

    I agree with your general point though that with him out Liverpool may have a better defensive record.

  7. Tyson

    January 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    This makes no sense he hasn’t been a very good player since he showed up but regardless there isn’t anybody better to fulfill his position.

    • Laurence

      January 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm


      I agree that some of this isn’t exactly logical and a lot of factors have been over-looked here.

      He is a good player, there is little doubt about it, especially if you look at where previous criticism was being put at Arbeloa. Not only that but he has the attributes to become a better defender.

      The problem is that this is too simplistic in some ways. Saying that Liverpool will benefit from the loss of their first-choice right-back? There are just so many levels that I would struggle to justify that argument.

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