As the Reds prepare to take on West Brom in the Premier League this weekend, all eyes will be on Reds Boss Brendan Rodgers as he seeks to reignite the attacking spark of Liverpool which devastated defences and yielded over a hundred goals last season. That spark, alongside Liverpool’s early first half goals, have been largely missed this season – only in the games against Spurs and Southampton did we see flashes of the deadly attacking force Liverpool were last season.
The first cracks perhaps surfaced in the defeat to City when the defending Champions simply pried open Liverpool’s gaps and took the points with their efficiency in front of goal. The back-to-back defeats to Aston Villa and West Ham had then served to underline Liverpool’s somewhat inability to strike back when their opponents open the scoring early, while the draw against Everton was hardly an impressive derby display by either side. That said, two goals scored while conceeding five is largely an unsightly statistic for the Reds, and to worsen things came the lacklustre display against Basel, who duly punished the vistors by bagging all three points.
In Switzerland, Liverpool’s defence contrieved to once again mix things up when Skrtel almost caused an own-goal from a corner, with Basel capitalising on the chance to score the only goal of the game. Either side of Skrtel and Lovren, Enrique and Manquillo hardly brought calm to Liverpool’s flanks, instead they were often finding themselves exposed against Basel. Lovren, touted as Liverpool’s new defence leader, has been decent so far this season, but much needs to improve if he is to fill the gap left by Carragher’s retirement. In midfield Gerrard and Henderson have been doing their roles pretty decently but their input in the final third has been somewhat reduced this term.
However the main disappointment came from the front line, with the Reds’ new-look attack hardly troubling the organised Swiss side.
Sterling was lively as usual, unfortunately having his 5th minute strike ruled out for offside, but the likes of Balotelli, Markovic and Coutinho had a game to forget. Not that they were exceedingly poor, but that they were hardly up to the mark we would all have expected them to be at. Coutinho’s form has been erratic this season, Markovic has struggled to build on his lively debut since arriving, and Balotelli has found the net just once in seven appearances.
Sturridge’s continued absence has hardly helped matters, but more worringly has been the new signings not hitting the ground running since the season began. Adam Lallana on the other hand had his start to life at Liverpool hampered by injury (he is improving game by game now) while Rickie Lambert has been spending more time on the bench than on the pitch.
A front line lacking the spark and a fragile backline who can’t seem to keep a clean sheet is an alarmingly posionous mix that is set to damage Liverpool’s hopes and expectations for the season. David Moyes’ ill-fated tenure at Manchester United last season was in itself an example of how the work and achievements of the previous season can all be naught in a matter of months when increasingly obvious problems aren’t solved effectively and results turn into a bad run.
As a Liverpool fan I don’t feel inclined to criticise the club I support but the truth is that our summer signings haven’t been slotting in well and our defensive problems remain as they were last season despite cash being splashed in the summer on yet more defenders. While it is indeed still early days in the season, the danger of Liverpool’s season spiralling into mediocrity can hardly be ignored.
The alarm bells are ringing – ringing softly for the time being.