The word transition has been used a lot by Liverpool’s managers and players so far this season.
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There’s been a lot of changes at Anfield recently, we get it. But how long will this transition take?
Following Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday — the Reds have now failed to score in two-straight Premier League matches — many of the issues which have come back to bite them time and time again this season arose. Liverpool had plenty of the ball, but lacked cutting edge and fluidity in the final third.
Last season that was never a problem. But since then they’ve sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge has spent most of this season on the treatment table. That said, shouldn’t their squad be strong enough to deal with these absences?
Speaking to reporters after Liverpool’s defeat at St James’ Park, which leaves them seventh in the table on 14 points from 10 games, manager Brendan Rodgers had the following assessment of his teams’ display.
“I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game, but we didn’t do enough to win it. We had enough of the ball, we had good movement in front of the ball, we just lacked maybe that wee bit of creativity and invention in the final third of the field,” Rodgers said. “Anything we had to deal with until the goal, we dealt well with defensively, there were no real issues. But we made a mistake and the mistake, unfortunately, has cost us the game and that’s the biggest disappointment of it all.”
The first part of his answer is key.
On Saturday Liverpool controlled 64 percent of the possession but mustered just six shots the entire game, three of which were on target. Newcastle had 14 attempts with just 36 percent of the ball, as the Magpies looked bright on the counter and managed to create plenty of chances when they did have the ball. Liverpool just don’t look dangerous up top.
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Mario Balotelli played the entire 90 minutes up front and failed to score in the PL once again. The eccentric Italian striker has yet to score in the PL for the Reds and many are questioning why Rodgers is keeping faith in Balotleli.
“It is not about Mario Balotelli, it is about the team,” Rodgers said when asked about the Italian international. “We lost the game today. We collectively lost as a team and we are disappointed at that.”
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For Liverpool’s fans watching these lackluster displays, it will not be disappointing that they are losing games but it is the manner in which they are losing which is more concerning.
Right now the Reds are 12 points off league leaders Chelsea and have won just four games from 10 this season. They have also scored just 13 goals and conceded the same amount. That’s in stark contrast to the 101 goals they banged in last season. The way things are going at the moment, Liverpool would be lucky to finish in the top six, let alone the top four again.
With the rigours of UEFA Champions League soccer taking its toll on Liverpool’s squad, how concerned should we be about the possibility that this slump could last all season?