After the latest setback in Liverpool’s dismal Premier League campaign Liam McConville looks at some of the problems that have dogged the five times European Champions all season.
Liverpool have had a serious problem with scoring goals throughout their league season. With a paltry return of 36 goals from 30 games, that’s seven goals less than Steve Kean’s much maligned Blackburn Rovers. The Reds have struggled to kill teams off despite dominating the majority of the play. Despite frequently racking up large numbers of corners, only two goals have been scored from set pieces in the Premier League all season. Liverpool have also hit the woodwork more than any other team which could be perceived as bad luck but when it’s been going on for so long it has to be seen as abject finishing.
It is perhaps the most talked about point of the season. Despite spending lavishly in the summer, Liverpool’s transfers under Dalglish have almost all been failures. Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson’s pricetags are weighing heavily on them; they’ve made the two young North Easterner’s challenge to make it at Anfield that much harder. With every misplaced pass or scuffed shot their respective transfer fees are brought into question. Stewart Downing is another who has disappointed by failing to contribute a single league goal. Charlie Adam has tailed off dramatically after a promising start with his delivery from set pieces becoming increasingly worse leaving Dalglish’s master plan in tatters. In brutal honesty only Jose Enrique and Luis Suarez have been clear successes. Although there is still time for the likes of Henderson and Downing to change people’s perceptions the clock is ticking and another overhaul in the summer looks increasingly likely. Liverpool fans simply have to pray that the Anfield hierarchy spend their money more wisely come the summer.
Although Liverpool have been unbeaten at home for most of the season a number of draws has haunted them all season leaving them with only five wins from their fifteen home games. With Arsenal and Wigan taking all three points from Anfield in March Liverpool’s home form has gone from poor to disastrous. An inability to hold onto leads is something not exclusively seen at Anfield (as QPR fans will joyfully be able to testify to) but has seen the Red’s squander points against some of the worst teams in the league. This is not something new as disappointing home draws against inferior teams cost Liverpool any chance of securing the title under Rafael Benitez in the 2008/09 season. However it has to change if Dalglish’s team are to stand any chance of reaching the top four next season.
Severely Lacking Lucas
The industrious Brazilian has been sorely missed since he was ruled out for most of the reason with a cruciate ligament injury. Although he was often criticised when he first joined the club, Lucas has become a key part of a Liverpool midfield which has lost world class performers Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in recent years. Charlie Adam’s loss in form can certainly be linked to Lucas’ absence. Although Jay Spearing has enjoyed an extended spell in the first team, the reality is the tenacious academy product is not of the same quality. Steven Gerrard’s continued fight against injury has been a big blow but it is Lucas’ extended spell on the side-lines which has been more keenly felt on Merseyside.
The Luis Suarez Affair
Unquestionably Luis Suarez is a brilliant player but his antics on the pitch have not endeared him to the rest of the Premier League. His theatrics under the slightest of challenges have enraged many a defender but none of this matched the furore following his racist abuse of Patrice Evra. In the immediate aftermath of the incident Liverpool backed their man with a staunch defence against the then allegations. Even after Suarez was found guilty the Uruguayan was backed unanimously with the now infamous Suarez t-shirts at the DW Stadium. Liverpool’s form dipped as negative publicity swamped the club. The team missed a spark without Suarez as he completed his eight game ban, however the forward soon managed to ignite the whole of Old Trafford with his handshake snub to Evra. Yet again derision reigned upon the club when the incident should have been put in the past. Suarez was rightfully condemned for the debacle and now that he has hopefully learnt his lesson he can focus on improving his goal tally of seven league goals which for a man of his abilities isn’t really enough.
With the first trophy in six years already secured Liverpool can still turn this season into a very good one if they can triumph in the FA Cup. There have been promising signs in the cups but the league form has been similar to what it was under Roy Hodgson in what was a much more tumultuous time for the club. Dalglish has to learn from this season otherwise his fairytale return to Anfield may be a lot shorter than he planned.