While a chink in the armour is difficult to find, the most notable areas of weakness in Liverpool’s Premier League-winning squad have been identified as cover in attack as well as at left-back.
Andy Robertson has been a revelation for the club and once again has been highly durable and is rarely an injury concern. In fact, the Scotsman has only been unavailable for just two Premier League matches all season.
However, as Manchester City will agree, one major injury can completely derail a team’s season. Pep Guardiola and his management team failed to find a viable replacement for Vincent Kompany nor sufficient cover after Aymeric Laporte sustained a long-term injury.
Liverpool will hope something like this doesn’t occur for them in that left full-back area next season. Robertson has proven himself highly reliable but not even he is 100 per cent bulletproof and can certainly be vulnerable to an injury.
So how do Liverpool cope with this? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, but the team do have options internally, which range in quality.
Here is a look at six ways in which the team could try to cope…
This may be the most likely option to play Milner on the left.
The 34-year-old has previously spent a season for the Reds as Klopp’s first-choice left-back in the 2016/17 season and is one of Liverpool’s most consistent performers.
Before the season began he seemed like Robertson’s most trusted deputy if the Scotland captain was ever unavailable.
Despite being predominantly right-footed, Milner has showcased that his reading and understanding of the game is years ahead of most of his fellow professionals and that he is adept to cover in a whole host of positions for the team.
Another right-footed full-back who has been forced to shift on the left to cover for Robertson. Williams made his first PL start for Liverpool on the opposite side of his favourable full-back position.
To his credit, the 19-year-old produced an assured and confident performance against Brighton during Liverpool’s 3-1 victory last week.
While on the left, there wasn’t a major chasm in quality in Robertson’s absence as Williams showcased he has the quality to perform whatever side of defence he is on.
This might be a good way for Liverpool to deal with this unwelcome scenario without losing too much in terms of quality.
Gomez is another alternative option that has had a sustained run in the team at left-back before Robertson became Liverpool’s long-term solution.
During the 2015/16 season, Gomez was first deployed at full-back on the left and was extremely impressive, even putting in a MOTM performance against Arsenal in August 2015.
While he has proved to be much more efficient in central defence, if Gomez were required to be an emergency full-back option, Joel Matip will certainly prove a viable and assured option to cover at centre-back for Gomez.
A former winger and midfielder, Lewis this week signed a contract extension at the club having settled into a left-back role over the last few seasons. His delivery from out wide has been a notable asset for the U23s and he has showcased himself as a valuable weapon at set-pieces.
The 20-year-old Liverpool-born talent made his first-team debut in February when he started the FA Cup fourth-round replay win over Shrewsbury Town at Anfield.
Next season could be his moment to really establish himself and never look back.
Here we have an exciting option if Klopp believes the young Algerian is ready.
This week, Larouci joined up with the first-team to train and showcase to the manager and teammates if he has the capability to step-up.
Against Everton in the FA Cup back in January, Larouci demonstrated his quality and produced an impressive audition as Liverpool emerged 1-0 victors.
It certainly wouldn’t be ideal to have one of your best midfield options at left-back, but Henderson has sacrificed his own individual game for the benefit of the team before.
During the FIFA Club World Cup campaign, Henderson was even utilised at centre back and has also played as a right-back in previous seasons.
Liverpool should aim for better in that department, but he might be viewed as a safe option, rather than playing a youngster like Lewis or Larouci if Klopp feels they are not yet ready to make that next step.
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