Fabio Aurelio is always injured and Liverpool will never have a fit and talented left back. At least that's how it began to seem as year after year the Brazilian would struggle through countless injuries while a revolving door spat out failed would-be replacements. Right back, on the other hand, always seemed fairly settled, and with the acquisition of Glen Johnson and the emergence of Martin Kelly in recent seasons, the question most often asked was how the club was going to manage to fit in two players who would be safe bets to start week in and week out for most other Premier League sides.
That didn't last long, however, as over the past twelve months it seems that both right backs have been injured as often as they've been healthy, and with Jose Enrique locking down the left side of defence the frustration that was once felt for Aurelio's cotton candy ligaments now falls on a right back duo who could start for just about any club in the league. If they could just stay healthy for more than five minutes. Thankfully, however, both have another season or three before they fully enter Aurelio—or Daniel Agger—territory, which won't seem something to be thankful for if they spend the time continually injured but for now at least leaves a sliver of hope that their fortunes could turn around.
Somewhat miraculously, then, both players appear likely to be fit to face Manchester United after the international break, bringing things back around to the original conversation and the question that's been on hold since last winter: If both Kelly and Johnson are fit and ready to go, which one should be starting?
By most accounts, Kelly is stronger defensively and Johnson offensively, though as he became more assured in the role Kelly had begun to step up his attacking game before a late-season injury cut his development short in 2010-11. As for Johnson, even if many have been quick to label him a liability at the back, it's worth noting that many of the defensive issues people remember come from when Roy Hodgson asked the man with a wingback's skill set to play as an old-school defensive fullback sitting on the edge of the eighteen-yard box.
The general numbers, though, do seem to at least support the general impression. So take a peek at a couple of every touch compilations—Kelly against Chelsea and Johnson against Sunderland—to remind yourself what you've been missing and, with fingers crossed that the future holds more discussion of who should start instead of who's fit to start, let us know who you'd rather see on the pitch from the opening whistle next Saturday.