A rare weekend off for Liverpool will have recharged the Reds’ batteries before their final push for a first Premier League title at 13/2 odds, but boss Brendan Rodgers will be wary of the limitations of his squad ahead of what’s sure to be a dramatic run-in.
By all accounts, John W. Henry and co have promised the Northern Irishman plenty of readies to spend if their club claim a Champions League place at 1/14 odds and Fenerbahce full-back Caner Erkin – who has also been linked with Arsenal and Tottenham – is thought to be a prime target.
Even the most ardent scouse-baiters have been bowled over by Liverpool’s best campaign in recent memory, with Rodgers’ men sitting in second place – seven points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand and 3/1 to still be in the top two come season’s end.
However, long-standing weaknesses on the left side – particularly in defence – have threatened to derail their startling progress, and neither loan signing Aly Cissokho nor Spaniard Jose Enrique have furthered their claims to be Liverpool’s first-choice left-back for the start of next term.
Enrique has spent most of this season in the treatment room after suffering a knee injury, but the 28-year-old has never shaped like a long-term defensive solution for Liverpool since signing from Newcastle in 2011.
In the meantime, Cissokho’s stock has dropped considerably during the six months he’s spent on Merseyside, with the 26-year-old seemingly fixed in Koppites’ minds as a figure of fun following a string of comedic performances.
The one-cap Frenchman hasn’t started a match since the 2-1 FA Cup fifth-round loss at Arsenal, with Rodgers preferring to play England international Glen Johnson out of position on the opposite side of fellow specialist right-back Jon Flanagan, rather than risk Cissokho against Swansea and Southampton.
With the former Lyon and Porto man expected back at Valencia at the end of term, Rodgers is already planning for his replacement and Fener star Erkin – whose contract runs out at the end of this season – could be the man he turns to.
The 25-year-old has something of a reputation for hot-headedness, having been fined by his club for storming down the tunnel after being substituted in October, but his record of 11 assists for the Istanbul side this season puts him amongst the top creators in European football.
Erkin has turned out 26 times for his national side and his ability to play at left-back and further forward on the left wing will appeal to Rodgers, who has attempted – with mixed success – to implement a 3-5-2 formation at times in this campaign.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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