As if losing at home to Manchester United in a game where their captain Steven Gerrard was sent off and subsequently banned for three matches wasn’t bad enough, Liverpool must also come to terms with the prospect of losing Martin Skrtel too.
The centre-back stalwart has been charged with violent conduct for a stamp on Red Devils goalkeeper David de Gea in the closing stages of the Reds’ 2-1 Anfield reverse.
As a result he is sure to follow his skipper into the sin bin for a three-game stint, meaning he will miss Premier League matches against Arsenal and Newcastle, with an FA Cup quarter-final replay with Blackburn sandwiched in between.
An absolute staple of Brendan Rodgers’ backline, Liverpool fans could be forgiven for fearing the most disastrous of ramifications his pending suspension will bring about.
“Who will we play instead? Dejan Lovren? Kolo Toure? A Paul and Barry Chuckle-impersonating combination of both?”
Scary right? Wrong.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter who plays in Skrtel’s absence, for his teammates tend to do better without him.
This is why it’s worth a punt on the 9/1 about them winning each of the three matches they’ll play when the Slovakian stopper is on the naughty step.
For those who think the Reds will fare worse, it’s 5/4 they snare the spoils twice, 6/4 for once and 11/2 about no triumphs across these games, but at least two lots of laurel-lassoing will be the worst case scenario according to the history books.
That season Skrtel has failed to make the starting lineup on seven instances.
Of these, Liverpool have lost just once, as opposed to 11 defeats endured when he has been present.
Last year he was omitted just four times, though the Reds didn’t lose once in his absence.
Given the frequency with which he has been selected over the past two campaigns, it may be a little unfair to highlight setback-swerving in the few games he hasn’t partaken in, but the exploits of the 2012/13 vintage further solidifies the argument that Rodgers’ side will be fine minus Skrtel.
This season saw him start 31 games, while 23 kicked off with the player in the stands.
In total, 32% of Skrtel starts ended in defeat, with the figure almost halving to 17% in matches he didn’t feature.
“This is all well and good,” chorus the reams of still-edgy Kopites, “but we’ve got to play Arsenal…away!’
Again, don’t panic.
Skrtel didn’t feature in the 2-2 draw at the Emirates in 12/13, while he was also on the bench for Liverpool’s 2-0 win in north London that occurred the previous season.