If the recent game against Man City was a prelude to life without Luis Suarez then Liverpool fans will be forgiven for thinking their Champions League race could be run by the time the Uruguayan returns.
One look at the starting XI against City and it was easy to discern a frightening lack of pace, penetration and creativity in the team. The heroes from the game against Newcastle, Bellamy and Gerrard, were on the bench. For all Liverpool’s composed possession they rarely created anything meaningful in and around the box. The ploy to use Andy Carroll was mercilessly stamped out by Kompany and co.
Most Pundits have agreed that Liverpool’s problem has been their failure to convert the litany of goal scoring opportunities they have created, but yesterday goal-scoring chances were conspicuous by their absence. In the previous two games Suarez had troubled the City defense with his trickery, intelligence, speed and industry. Without him Liverpool looked more one dimensional, heavily reliant on quality delivery from wide areas, which yesterday were at a premium.
Carroll is not Suarez but it seems a lack of confidence has sapped of him of his greatest asset, namely his beastly physical power. 35 million or not, Liverpool need him to hit the goal trail sooner rather than later. Nor is he the only culprit, Downing has still failed to muster a single goal for his new club and still does not look like the relaxed composed footballer that excelled with Villa. Adam has made a good start to his new life, but the last few weeks have been unkind an own goal and missed penalty have contributed to a loss of form.
The loss of Lucas was a blow but Spearing looks like he can fill the hole adequately if not as adeptly. Henderson provides plenty of industry and running power but he needs to demonstrate he is more than a workhorse. His defense splitting pass to Downing was a highlight yesterday but the time has to come to do it on a more regular basis.
In fairness Liverpool will not come up Kompany every week but they as more and more teams employ park the bus tactics against the Reds, its difficult to locate their main source of inspiration. Gerrard is still not fully charged whilst Bellamy`s troublesome knee prevents him from playing 90 minutes every week. The onus is on the team as a whole to start getting forward and chipping in with the goals.
Dalglish by all accounts has money to spend in January but if last January has taught him anything it is that strikers tend to go for more at this time of the year. His has fiercely defended Carroll from the offset and a by looking for a new striker he would be sending out the message he has lost his iron faith in the Geordie. When Liverpool take on City in the Carling Cup semi he will hope for a much-improved performance. City may not have been sparkling yesterday but they possess a versatility, which allows them to score a variety of goals in a way Liverpool do not.
Luckily Liverpool’s champion’s league ambitions will not be determined by away trips to Manchester, but they can ill afford to be so lackluster in the coming weeks. The jibes that Liverpool are a one-man team will linger for the time being. Liverpool knew life without Suarez would be tough, we will soon find out how tough. January will severely test the mental strength and resilience of Dalglish`s men.
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