For the past decade, there has been a certain Spanish influence on the red half of Merseyside.
With the summer departure of long-time goalkeeper Pepe Reina, Liverpool currently find themselves with only one Spaniard consistently pencilled in to the club’s starting XI—Jose Enrique being the only Iberian finding frequent playing time at Anfield.
While Enrique has never had the same impact as his compatriots mentioned above, he has been a consistent part of the Reds back line since his arrival from Newcastle in 2011.
However, Liverpool now face the reality of an extended spell without their first-choice left-back, as Enrique will be sidelined for the immediate future due to knee surgery, according to Liverpool’s official website.
Brendan Rodgers expressed disappointment at losing out on his starting full-back, as the second-year manager revealed the extent of the Spaniard’s injury to the club’s site:
We're just waiting for clarification on his injury, but it looks like he'll probably need a small operation. It's disappointing because he has been out for a couple of months and we've tried various ways to get him back fit. But he's still in pain. The conclusion will be that he'll need the operation and we'll assess it from there. I just need to wait and see, wait to hear from our head doctor later on today, and we'll get a better idea of how long that will be.
With Champions League qualification on the line, the Reds are going to have to push forward without Enrique, no matter how difficult that may be.
Jose Enrique has become the saviour of the team since we were forced to play Aly Cissokho— Currie (@Davrinho) November 21, 2013
Aly Cissokho... I'm scared.— Zaidie Suso (@Zaidie30Suso) November 21, 2013
Enrique out for about 2 months, wow... The thoughts of Aly Cissokho at LB for that long scares me, a lot.— Nate Guildea (@NateGuildea) November 21, 2013
Bad news... Jose Enrique is out for 2 months after shoulder surgery. Means #LFC will have to put up with Aly bloody Cissokho at LB— Alex White (@alexwhite1990) November 21, 2013
Valencia loanee Aly Cissokho has been less than stellar since making the move across the pond, as supporters have been vocal about the Frenchman’s play this campaign.
Even club legend John Aldridge has spoken out through the Liverpool Echo about his lack of faith in the 26-year-old full-back ahead of this weekend’s Merseyside derby.
Aldridge said: "Without being unkind to Cissokho, he just hasn’t fitted in yet and I would be worried about thrusting him into a match like this, in an atmosphere like that."
Who will win this weekend's Merseyside Derby?
So this begs the question: Who is Liverpool’s best filler while Enrique is sidelined?
While Cissokho has been less than impressive during the initial stages of his Premier League voyage, he has proven to be a capable full-back in the past, as his times with both Porto and Lyon have been prime examples of his ability.
However, if not Cissokho, then who should get the start against derby opponents Everton?
One option is Jon Flanagan, who recently appeared at right-back against Arsenal due to Glen Johnson's illness.
While Flanagan is normally deployed on the right side of the field, he featured on the left against Fulham during the Kenny Dalglish era.
Flanagan looked plenty capable against Arsenal and certainly could be the future of Liverpool’s back line.
Whoever features on the left for Liverpool will be thrust into the fire straight away, as the Merseyside derby is always one of the most tense fixtures of the Premier League season.
The game will not be won due to Rodgers’ choice of starting left-back, as Luis Suarez’s theatrics and Daniel Sturridge’s fitness will be key to a Liverpool victory.
However, if Rodgers should get his choice wrong, Liverpool could be looking a little blue as their chase of Premier League glory could be affected by a major setback.
Who do you think Liverpool should start at left-back this weekend? Have your say with a comment below or tweet @R_Tolmich with your viewpoint.