Liverpool have been a surprise package this season in the Premier League, mainly due to the brilliant combination of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. But could a weak defence rule out any hope of a top-four finish?
Liverpool have struggled to keep clean sheets this season and much of this is due to the mounting injuries to Brendan Rodgers' squad, including the likes of Jose Enrique and, more recently, Lucas Leiva; who has another problem with ligaments in his knee.
Rodgers has had a selection dilemma since the start of the season after veteran defender Jamie Carragher announced his retirement at the end of last year. Liverpool attempted to reinforce in the summer transfer window, signing Kolo Toure on a free from Manchester City, Mamadou Sakho from French giants PSG and Tiago Ilori from Sporting Lisbon; who has since gone on loan to Granada CF in the current window.
In addition, the Reds also acquired the services of Aly Cissokho on loan and Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet on a long term contract from Sunderland.
All of the above - except Mignolet - have proved to be less good than what was expected of them when they were signed in the summer. Although recently even Mignolet has come under fire with some poor performances which have cost Liverpool vital points in their fight for Champions League qualification.
Rodgers has used a variety of line-ups at the back throughout his time with the Anfield giants, with only Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger having had an extended run at the heart of the defence and Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique being preferred at the full back positions when available. However, all four have experienced long-term injuries, or severe dips in form since Rodgers took over in June 2012.
Liverpool have been linked with a wide range of different defensive midfielders in the current window, including ex-Manchester City enforcer and Netherlands international Nigel de Jong and Frenchman Yann M'Vila. This is mainly due to the constant lapses Liverpool have had when defending this season, which has even seen Captain Fantastic Steven Gerrard being moulded into a holding midfielder.
If Liverpool really want to be in contention for the Uefa Champions League at the end of the season, then the defensive problems will have to be sorted out. Whether through new signings or sticking with the current squad and waiting until all players are fit.
Rodgers has some selection dilemma's this January, which includes an FA Cup tie and a Merseyside derby against fierce rivals Everton.
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