The one player Liverpool need back to prevent Stoke repeat against Villa

Mamadou Sakho

Liverpool may have shipped three goals against Stoke City, but a single change of personnel should make them far tougher opposition for Aston Villa.

Sunday's match between Stoke City and Liverpool was the type of occasion the word 'humdinger' was created for.

While Luis Suarez continued his (almost) one-man demolition job on the defences of the Premier League, Stoke scored three and could have snatched more, were it not for the woodwork and an excellent late save from Simon Mignolet.

With Aston Villa the Reds' next opponents, they can expect much of what they faced against the Potters, given the Villans have added the physical threat of Grant Holt to that of Christian Benteke.  So what can Brendan Rodgers do differently to ensure he is not left relying on his forwards to simply outscore the opposition?

A quick look at the stats for the defenders who played on Sunday suggests there was one weak link.  Kolo toure did not make a single interception or win a single tackle against Mark Hughes' men.  He also lost seven duels out of a possible 10 and seven aerial challenges, winning just two.

With Aly Cissokho, Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel all winning more duels than they lost, and Skrtel and Cissokho also doing the same for aerial challenges, it appears from first glance that Toure is the player to replace when Villa come to town.

NameWon TackleInterception WonDuel LostDuel WonAerial LostAerial Won
Aly Cissokho 2 2 7 9 3 5
Glen Johnson 1 1 2 5 1 0
Martin Skrtel 0 4 1 2 1 2
Kolo Touré 0 0 7 3 7 2


Below is a breakdown of the same stats for all Liverpool's central defenders taking into account the entire season to date.  And one name stands out - that of Mamadou Sakho.So what of the players to potentially replace him?

NameWon Tackle GameInterception Won GameDuel Lost GameDuel Won GameAerial Lost GameAerial Won Game
Mamadou Sakho 1.67 2.08 3.58 5.50 1.92 2.75
Kolo Touré 1.54 0.77 4.08 4.46 2.77 1.92
Daniel Agger 1.18 0.91 2.09 4.91 1.09 2.64
Martin Skrtel 0.84 1.63 2.63 5.05 1.53 3.32

SEE ALSO: Rodgers wants goals from other Liverpool team mates, who can step up?

The Frenchman did not feature against Stoke having only just returned from injury, but Rodgers will be hoping to have him fit for Saturday.  And if so, it may be an easier affair than the back-and-forth encounter at the Britannia Stadium.

After all, he has won more tackles, more interceptions  and more duels than any other Reds centre-back, and only Skrtel has outdone him for aerial challenges won.

What do you think is Liverpool's best centre-back pairing?

image: © psgmag.net

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