Rodgers must cure Liverpool’s defensive ills to stay in fourth

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With Tottenham snapping at their coat tails Liverpool can hardly afford to carry on gifting opponents goals if they wish to maintain their current tilt at a top-four finish.

It’s only natural that Liverpool’s FA Cup exit will spur some punters towards a cheeky punt on the dark horses of this season’s title race to gallop on to glory at 8/1, while their rivals are sidetracked by cup competitions.

Good luck to anyone that does fancy the now fully Premier League – focused Reds to overhaul the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in this most unpredictable of seasons.

However, there should be concerns among the Liverpool fraternity that defensive frailty may not only throw cold water over any title aspirations, but worse still prevent the Reds from grasping the top-four finish they so desperately crave.

That mission is currently rated as short as 1/4, though some bungling pieces of defending in recent times are enough to cast doubt over that price.

Kolo Toure has been the main culprit of late – having effectively surrendered two points at West Brom with an unfathomable pass before putting through his own net in equally calamitous fashion at Fulham – but it’s clearly a collective uncertainty.

A clean sheet against Championship Bournemouth was one of only a pair in Liverpool’s last eight games, while they’ve conceded two or more in four of the remaining six.

Rodgers has clearly been hindered by injuries in his battle to field a settled backline, especially to long-term casualties Jose Enrique, Mohamed Sakho and now Glen Johnson, while Daniel Agger has only just returned to full fitness.

Agger’s return to renew his partnership of last season alongside Skrtel could be part of the solution, but some dedicated training on defending set pieces should also be high on Rodgers’ agenda.

For all their attacking prowess, conceding further sloppy goals could yet cost Liverpool dear.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.