Following the Swansea game it was hard not to come away feeling it was chances missed. Most observers would look at Liverpool and point to their failure to secure an out and out striker during the transfer window as the root cause of their current mid table idling. Yes we picked up some bargain basement promising players for the future in Assaidi and Yesil. Bigger names were touted and didn’t arrive. The long expected Dempsey now seems to be gaining confidence in each game for Spurs, and our other target Sturridge continues to be the forgotten man at Chelsea. For Bolton his stats were impressive scoring 8 Goals from just 12 starts since his arrival on loan in January 2011, but in terms of blending into Rodgers style, the question would be does he work hard enough for the team. Suarez must be Rodgers’ dream a player with end product, magic and a work ethic to rival Jamie Carragher in his Champions League pomp. The team is key for Rodgers and everyone putting a shift in is vital.
The other striker that has already been linked to Liverpool in the gossip pages is Darren Bent. It is not the first time. It wont be the last, even if on this occasion it doesn’t materialise. To add credence to the story, the mention of a loan move to Liverpool has been bandied about. Three days ago the rumour was that negotiations were already starting for a loan in January with a view to a permanent move for Bent to Anfield. The word out of Anfield seems to be yes we are shopping in January but don’t be looking for the Kenny style multi million style spending spree. Then again they were early strange days. If recent paper stories are to be believed Damien Commolli was paying £15 million over the asking price for Jordan Henderson, in a Dutch auction that only the Frenchman thought he was playing. Those days seem very far away now, with the Americans quibbling over a £1 million here or there and losing out. Even the absentee landlords must realise they seriously missed a trick not to back Rodgers’ pursuit of Dempsey. He may not have fitted the moneyball outline but neither does Van Persie. And look what he is doing at United.
Fabio Borini was injured before he had chance to prove himself but he was certainly a little off the pace in the early games, a second behind the thought and movement of the likes of Suarez. But goals from midfield have been few and far between. You cant fail to be impressed by a player like Gareth Bale whose early powerhouse display at White Hart Lane tore us apart for the first goal. Yes, a poor wall was responsible for the 2nd goal, utterly wrong-footing Pepe Reina, but the strength and forward power he displays highlights a weakness in our midfield to dominate. The forward runs of Steven Gerrard are getting fewer and further between, and alas in recent games, his wind ups for the Olympiakos style shot are all too predictable, and most often charged down. Opposition defenders know what is coming and are not giving him the space to hit the target cleanly. Pushing him forward to take up the striking gap has to be a way forward being considered. Certainly when Lucas returns we can benefit from his energy, whilst allowing Allen to link up play. Stevie certainly has not lost his eye for goal or a for a pass, and I am sure that if he was anchored to the final third he would make use of both of these attributes fully, in absence of an out and out striker to give Luis a hand with the goal burden. Liverpool are still tarred with the brush of being a one man team. But that man is now Suarez not Gerrard.
Steven Gerrard Stats
Statistically at least our captain doesn’t seem to have dropped his levels too far. For me though there is still a perceived fall in that match turning performance we have been previously spoilt with. Against Swansea in the first half he was giving the ball away in crucial positions putting us under pressure and didn’t seem switched on. You could certainly see an improvement second half in energy level, and he was still showing as the major Liverpool influence on the game. As the graphic shows of each season since 2009, Gerrard has maintained a level of consistency. He passes with accuracy more often than he did 4 seasons ago, now accurately passing every 1.6 minutes. Every commentator seems to cherry pick a fine pass or a decent shot and extrapolate that out to a match changing performance for our captain.
There is no intention here to do down the work he has done, and still does, for the team. But any Liverpool supporter who has watched consistently over this period will have seen that his influence on a game has lessened, his game changing performances dwindled, as those skilful partners in crime have left him. Surrounded by the likes of Alonso, Mascherano and dare i say it Torres, the creative load was spread and outlets for the telling pass more obvious. His shots on target have reduced consistently since 09/10. He hasn’t been in double figures in league goals since the 16 he scored in the 2008/9 season, the nearly season, the season we out scored the team we came runners up in the league to. But he is getting better at choosing his battles. He tackles with greater success than he did 2 seasons ago in 2010/11. But he has had to because of the absence of Lucas Leiva.
The Brazilian’s return to the side needs to be carefully managed, for the once decried midfielder has a major contribution to play to the spine of the team. Liverpool need him fit. Need him breaking down play with greater tenacity. Mousa Dembele had 80% tackle success at White Hart Lane compared to Joe Allen’s 66.67%. Although Allen is determined in the tackle he was out-muscled against Spurs. We need a player like Lucas to put a foot in when the opposition have someone as good as Bale, as rampant as he was for that first 20 minutes.
Next Page: Liverpool Interested in Darren Bent again!? Other options for Liverpool and the key fixture period for Liverpool with must win games – all on page 2. Click here to read or click on the page number below.
Liverpool interested in Darren Bent again!?
But what of that striker. Darren Bent. I think if he is available on a loan deal it would make complete sense for Liverpool to take a punt. A goal relieves pressure and lets the players relax into the game. Missing a chance just ups the anxiety as we have witnessed often this season and last. We have seen chance after chance slip by, when lack of a clinical final touch costs us.
Bent has an average over those 4 seasons of a goal every 2.2 games. He has clearly fallen out of favour at Aston Villa. Whether that is a desire for Randy Lerner to clear an expensive commodity off his wage bill or a fall out with uncompromising Scot Paul Lambert, it is up for debate. Having spent £20 million on him, they may be reluctant to let him go in anything but a permanent deal. But with half a season to go they either deskill a valuable asset or put him in a shop window. Anfield may just be a shop window they choose, and the place to remind Bent of the sparkle he showed when playing for Sunderland, scoring a goal roughly every 1 and a half games.
The Rodgers doctrine of keeping the ball moving and passing is well on its way to being ingrained in the way the team play. What he hasn’t managed to fathom yet is how we turn chances into goals. When you consider Suarez in his most prolific season has a shooting accuracy figure of 38%, and put that alongside Bent whose accuracy has never dropped below 43%, it equates to working keepers more, which has to be the name of the game.
There are other options certainly. And most likely Rodgers will pull someone out of left field unexpected. Other options that seem high on Rodgers wanted list. Sturridge for example. Last season he scored 11 goals from 28 starts equating to a goal every 2.3 games. But again selfish and not a team player might be levelled at him. But he does know where the back of the net is. Given the drought situation in the land of Torres, and Rafa perhaps being wary of being seen to be partial towards his ex employers, I think the Sturridge move may not be as likely as Bent. But if Roman opens the coffers for an umpteenth time who knows?
Key Period for Liverpool
The next 7 games could be key to our season, and games that we should be targeting as all eminently winnable. Starting Saturday against the resurgent Southampton. Nigel Adkins may be a fellow Birkonian but I am hoping that I am the happier come 17:45 on Saturday. Then we have West Ham away. Perhaps that is the game that Carroll’s presence will really tell for the Reds. Or in this case the absence of it. The fulcrum of the way they play will have an enforced absence and this should play to Liverpool’s advantage. Then Aston Villa come to Anfield. They have been decidedly poor this season and there seems to be an underlying theme of developing the young players over bringing in new expensive talent. Lets hope their transition remains far from complete. Then Fulham, Stoke, QPR and Sunderland follow. No push overs but games we need to be winning. Then we are in the transfer window. It’s the 13th of January. And Liverpool roll up to Old Trafford. I hope we have another striker who has a proven track record. I hope we have a returned Brazilian midfielder back to dazzling form,and I hope the 13th is very unlucky for our arch rivals. An odd early Christmas wish list. But you never know. YNWA.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.