It’s been a topsy-turvy season for Liverpool so far – after a very slow start, Brendan Rodgers’ side have upped their game and are now serious contenders for a top four spot. But how much of their recent turnaround in fortunes do they owe to their ever-improving defender Mamadou Sakho?
Since the start of the New Year, no top flight team have conceded less goals than Rodgers’ Liverpool. The Reds have kept four consecutive Premier League clean sheets, and the reason for their recent success in defence, has an awful lot to do with the return of Mamadou Sakho.
The centre-back, who made the eye-opening £18million switch from French side Paris Saint-Germain 18 months ago, initially struggled to adapt to the fierceness and intensity of the Premier League. In fact, many believed he was overpriced and not quite good enough for Liverpool. However, this season, Sakho has proved all his doubters wrong, as the 24-year-old seems to have settled into Anfield life with aplomb, and has been a real revelation for the Merseyside club this term.
Due to an injury sustained in late September, the Frenchman missed over a month of first team action. But since his return to the side, Liverpool’s defence has tightened up significantly, and Sakho is starting to live up to the high standards he set at PSG. The France international has appeared regularly in the heart of the Liverpool backline since mid-December, and the Reds haven’t lost a single game in 90 minutes during that time. In the 12 games prior to Sakho’s return, Liverpool had only won four, lost five and conceded 15 goals – so it’s fair to say they really missed his dominant presence at the back and the turnaround since has been truly remarkable.
So what has been the catalyst for Sakho’s impressive pick-up in form this season? Well for a start, I think it’s clear for everybody to see that he has matured tenfold, not only has the defender rapidly caught up with the pace of the Premier League, he seems to be enjoying his football and has taken the responsibility of re-joining Rodgers’ first team in his stride.
Liverpool’s recent turnaround in form has seen them climb up to seventh in the Premier League table, and they now just sit four points off Southampton who occupy the final Champions League spot. Despite the heart-breaking loss to Chelsea in the League Cup Semi-Final recently, the Merseysiders should feel extremely optimistic about the way their season could potentially pan out. After finally seeing off Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup on Wednesday, it’s imperative that the Reds keep their strong momentum going and finish the season staunchly.
It’s undoubtedly been a campaign of ups and downs for Brendan Rodgers’ side this term, but they are certainly on the road to recovery. With the recent return of the influential Daniel Sturridge, as well as the impressive form of the majority of Liverpool’s senior players – including the outstanding emergence of Sakho of late – things are starting to look a lot rosier at Anfield.