Problems For Rodgers In Both Attack And Defence

It was all going so well at Liverpool, and then Daniel Sturridge was ruled out for two months. Given the shakiness of their defence, Sturridge isn't the only issue for Brendan...

Last Updated: 02/12/13 at 09:44 Post Comment

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Football has a rather inexorable tendency to bite one on the arse. Brendan Rodgers knows this more than most, his predictions of success for Liverpool in the past almost inevitably followed by a slip-up which dampens expectations as reality hits. Complacency acts as a terminal illness in football, pride continuously followed by a rather awkward fall.

On Thursday morning, Rodgers would have been rather content with life. His side sat second in the Premier League, and he had one of (if not the) most formidable strikeforces in the division. Since then, it has been a miserable few days for the club. The news on Sunday morning that Daniel Sturridge will be ruled out for between six and eight weeks after injuring an ankle in an awkward fall of his own in training will be seen a huge nuisance for a manager who has based his team's entire strategy and formation on the presence of his two forwards.

On Sunday against Hull, it showed. The club's previous 3-5-2 formation, designed solely for Liverpool's strikers, was transformed into a 4-2-3-1, but an attacking midfield trio of Victor Moses, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling simply does not possess the quality to break the top four. Liverpool looked lacklustre in midfield, had just four shots on target in 90 minutes, their only goal game from an (excellent) Steven Gerrard set-piece, and Luis Suarez looked isolated and almost instantly frustrated without his partner.

Speaking after the match, Rodgers admitted his concerns. "There is no doubt that when you don't have a player of that quality, then it affects your team and we don't have a big enough squad to cope with a few players missing and that will always be the case."

The inclusion of Philippe Coutinho over the coming weeks may assist Liverpool's creativity, and the Brazilian created as many chances as any other player in white despite only being on the field for 25 minutes. The onus on the 21-year-old will only increase in Sturridge's absence. That is quite a responsibility.

If the injury to his England forward gave Rodgers a headache, it became a migraine by 4pm on Sunday thanks to the exposure of an increasingly flimsy defence. Before the game against Liverpool, Hull had scored just four home league goals in six home games against Norwich, Cardiff, West Ham, Villa, Sunderland and Palace, a list that includes the worst three away teams this season. That Hull almost doubled that home tally in 90 minutes highlighted an issue that has been growing in recent weeks.

Given their impressive start to the season, it came as some surprise to learn that Liverpool had only won once away from home since August, the 3-1 victory at the Stadium of Light in late September their sole win on the road, with dropped points against Everton, Newcastle and Swansea in particular threatening to derail their bid for Champions League qualification. You can now add Hull City to that list.

In many ways, Liverpool have become a Manchester City-lite with their form of late. They are utterly clinical at Anfield, scoring 11 goals in three home games and conceding just two since the beginning of October in brushing aside their opponents, but away from home their defence looks instantly shaky.

There was very little more Martin Skrtel could have done more with the opening goal from Jake Livermore (and unfortunate deflections happen), but at least two chances to clear the ball were missed for David Meyler's second, and for the third Liverpool already looked broken and exposed. The image of Kolo Toure beating the ground in frustration was not quite Sami Kuffour after the Champions League final in 1999, but it stemmed from the same intense infuriation and exasperation - sloppy mistakes have become all too commonplace away from home.

Toure's frustrations were shared by his manager after the game. "Defensively as a team we made too many mistakes, we gave it away very quickly and we found ourselves a goal behind which was disappointing." Rodgers had his defence bang to rights.

Liverpool have now taken just nine points from their seven away games, which when you consider their opponents (Hull, Everton, Newcastle, Sunderland, Swansea, Aston Villa and Arsenal) is not satisfactory, but it will be the defensive unsteadiness that will most worry Brendan Rodgers. Whilst just three goals have been conceded at home, the seven away games have seen Liverpool ship 13, and they have kept just one clean sheet. That isn't the typical performance of a side placed second in the Premier League.

An injured forward. An immediately frustrated star player. A lack of inventiveness in the final third and a dismal away defeat to put additional doubts in the minds of those that wonder whether Liverpool can last the pace. Someone make sure Brendan's 'okay' this evening.

Daniel Storey - follow him on Twitter

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

Wenger hails important win


s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

De Gea's Europa League target

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