Early this season we've already seen four different players start in a fullback/wingback role on the right side--Raheem Sterling was the most recent, Jordan Henderson preceded him, Kolo Toure filled in during the ill-fated four central defenders across the back experiment, and, in a distant, distant memory, Glen Johnson was fit and started the season as first-choice. We've seen Martin Kelly fill in for brief substitute appearances as well, making the right side of Liverpool's defense a revolving door of sorts through the first few months of the 2013-2014.
Not so on the left, where, aside from the win over Notts County in the League Cup and the first hour against Southampton, Jose Enrique has been a mainstay. At times he's been sorely lacking for form and something resembling the ability to make competent decisions, while at others he's been strong defensively and shown the ability to combine well going forward.
There's often little in between, however, so perhaps it's not too surprising that Brendan Rodgers today praised the ability of the Spanish fullback, making efforts to highlight his potential to be one of the best in his position:
"Jose has been playing with a little bit of an injury, but he's still been showing his determination and pride for the team. He has all the attributes to be one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. He's a threat when he goes forward and defensively he's very difficult to beat. The great thing is that Jose is always working at his game. He appraises himself honestly when we have chats. He's one who is looking to improve his game and his passing. There's no doubt that on his day he's one of the best in that position in this country."
That he vacillates so often between the two extremes--at times during the same match--is what frustrates; there's not much to find fault with Rodgers' praise here, as there's no questioning that on the days that he manages to put it all together, he's a marvel to watch. He's nearly unbeatable in situations in which he's tasked to beat his man for physicality and, at times, pace, he's capable with the ball at his feet both at the back and going forward, and his interplay at the pointy end has been fruitful on a number of occasions. And, depending on the day, he's also none of those things.
Little need to rehash the points made yesterday while discussing Aly Cissokho's return from injury, as we're all hoping that the competition emerging between the two fullbacks will bring out the best in both. Which, for Jose Enrique, means finding form and managing to maintain it. Not just on his day.