“At the end of the storm, there’s a Golden sky.” Liverpool fans sing the famous You’ll Never Walk Alone at the start and at the end of every game irrespective of the score-line showing their unwavering support and pride in the Merseyside Reds. However, for all the loyalty and support the Kop shows they know when to pull the plug, eg. Roy Hodgson. After a turbulent start to the season that was preceded with some of the best football seen in the Premier League for the last decade, the Reds have quite simply flattered to deceive. Languishing at the foot of the top-half of the table, knocked out in the group stages of the Champions League and still struggling to come to terms with the departures and arrivals of players in the summer; Brendan Rodgers’ side needs to turn their season around and they need to do it now.
New Faces, Same old Problem
While the defence was called into question by one and all, it was a collective failure of the entire squad that put the Reds down to where they were for the past few months. Injuries have also played their part in making Rodgers’ task difficult. The Liverpool defence was a spot of bother even last season when the Reds were scoring goals for fun, however, when you aren’t scoring enough goals regularly the glare turns to a rather incompetent defence Having conceded the most goals in the top flight through set-pieces and defensive errors; its pretty clear that the Reds lack leadership at the back. If so why didn’t they go and buy a leader? Dejan Lovren completed his 20 million move to Liverpool from the South Coast promising to be the leader Liverpool missed last season. Here is where the Reds got it wrong. There is no doubt in Lovren’s ability as a defender, however, having just spent 18 million on a first-choice French international centre-back who captained PSG at the age of 19 just a summer ago, a move for another left-sided centre-back simply didn’t make sense. Sakho has been unfortunate with injuries during his time on Merseyside but when on the pitch he is by far the best defender in a Red shirt. His ungainly style divides opinion but you cannot argue against the fact that he keeps the likes of Koscielny, Mangala, Mathieu and Mexes out of the French side comfortably. Will Brendan stick to the newly formed 3-4-3 system in the long run ? If so, where would Lovren and Sakho fit in assuming that Martin Skrtel still manages to baffle all by being Rodgers’ first choice centre-back and KoloToure offering much-needed defensive solidity? Questions that need answering but as of now, Sakho seems to have fought his way into the squad and his performance against Arsenal proves he’s there for keeps.
A Midfield Muddle
The Anfield Midfield Muddle began on one rainy evening in West London when Sam Allardyce simply put a much younger and hence quicker Stewart Downing on Steven Gerrard who operates at the base of the diamond to cut out the supply-line. Stevie G’s defensive flaws were never hidden and with age catching up with the skipper it has become more visible and pivotal. Operating alongside Lucas Leiva in the newly formed 3-4-3 system, Gerrard is given the licence to impose himself a tad more as the Brazilian mops up behind him and screens the defence. However, with only a week to go for January and a line of lucrative and illustrious suitors sniffing a chance to prize away the Liverpool skipper, there are issues that need to sorted behind the scenes at Anfield.
Forgotten their shooting boots, have they ?
Take 50+ goals out of any team in the world and they are bound to struggle to find the same form again. Its simple football but what made matters worse was that the players bought to replace said odd goals haven’t lived up to the billing yet. Having signed Mario Balotelli to play alongside Daniel Sturridger just like Luis Suarez did last season, Balotelli has played just one game with the English number 9. With Luis having left for Barcelona and Sturridge injured since the last day of August, Balotelli has struggled to take up the goal-scoring mantle at Anfield. The likes of Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini haven’t contributed significantly either. The trio having scored just a single goal among themselves since the start of the campaign. With Rodgers opting to play Sterling as the focal point ahead of Lambert and Borini, the writing is on the wall for the striking duo who have failed to live up to expectations. But Rodgers problems don’t end there. European Golden Boy ‘Award winner Raheem Sterling is yet to sign a contract extension and with the likes of Bayern and Real Madrid keeping an eye on the youngster, its crucial to Liverpool and Sterling that he sorts out his future before it gets messy.
The past week has seen an upturn in performance from the Reds. The likes of Markovic, Lallana and Coutniho are finally hitting their straps. Young Emre Can, Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo are still settling in. There is no doubt that this group of players will prove to be outstanding in the future but will Rodgers’ still be at the helm then?