Where Is Liverpool Lacking On The Pitch?

Torres was a name that struck fear into opposition hearts not long after joining Liverpool. With 33 goals in all competitions in his first season at Liverpool, no one could doubt his pedigree. By the time he left for Chelsea in a big money transfer in 2011, he had scored 81 goals in 142 appearances.

However any savvy football fan will know that unless you’re playing with your mates down at the local park, it is rare that you will see one striker taking on an entire team, create his own chance and finish it.

It is not necessary to look at every season Torres played at Liverpool but looking at his first season in 2007, he was supported by a midfield that included Mascherano and Alonso holding and Gerrard playing in the hole behind him. A force no doubt. In the 2007 season, Gerrard scored 21 goals, Benayoun 11 and Babel 10: all midfielders. Kuyt was brought in as a striker but was deployed more often as a right sided midfielder by Benitez. In that season Kuyt netted 11 goals. That’s 53 goals from players other than the main striker.

The opposition will always be more wary of a team that has goals in it from a variety of positions. Midfielders feeding off of second balls, running from deep, making intelligent runs, wingers cutting in and the main striker occupying defenders and so on are some of the things that defenders have to worry about when it comes to conceding goals. Quality midfielders and quality strikers complement each other. Their impressive records whether it be assists or goals is because the team works as an effective organism working together in unison and complimenting each other around the pitch. One player’s strength is utilised fully only because another teammate’s strengths has complimented it and vice versa.

When Torres left, Liverpool made the controversial move to sign Andy Carroll. Controversial not because of the player but because of the reported £35 million price tag attached to him.

Anyone who watched Carroll before he joined Liverpool cannot doubt his quality. In his first season in the Premier League with Newcastle before falling to injury, he netted 11 goals in 19 appearances. He had a left foot that could put balls through brick walls, arguably the best aerial threat in the league. He had the strength of an ox, pushing defenders around like they were schoolboys and not grown men. His heart, drive and determination to win were unquestionable. Defenders feared him.

It is hard to see how someone who could do so well in the best league in the world can turn to muck overnight. It just doesn’t happen, not permanently anyways. After his big move to Liverpool, there were big expectations and unfortunately we have failed to see Carroll reproduce the same form that was so lethal at Newcastle.

Without surprise he has amounted his fair share of critics, Liverpool fans and otherwise, who have written him of as a mistake and a waste of money. But I would suggest that now, perhaps people are starting to see that Andy Carroll’s failures are more a reflection of the weaknesses in Liverpool’s starting 11 than in Carroll himself.

Downing was brought in by Dalglish for a reported £20 million. After 20 games in the League, he has 0 assists and 0 goals. Anyone who has watched Liverpool this season would have seen he has had more than his fair share of chances to tuck goals away. He has fantastic pace and brings natural width to the team but if Liverpool want to be chasing England and Europe’s top honors, they will want more from Downing.

Adam has shown signs of promise, though he has failed to impress over the last few games. He has good vision, a fantastic left foot and his right foot can cause harm too. However his set pieces have come nowhere near the level they were at, at Blackpool. He is by no means a lazy player and statistically covers just as much ground as any other Liverpool player but his pace and mobility are not listed among his strengths. Played alongside an out and out holding midfielder in Lucas or Spearing, Liverpool’s central midfield threatens little in terms of runs from deep into the box and goals from open play. However if Liverpool’s front two and wide players can add goals , Adam can still play a key part in a successful Liverpool side as even Alonso is not put into a starting 11 for his goal threat but his range of passing, vision and ability to start attacks from deep.

Liverpool are definitely on the ascendency but their lack of clear cut chance creation(they create a lot of chances statistically but a volley set up from the half way line will be noted as a chance and shot) and goals from players like Downing is costing them dearly and it has cast a bad light over players like Carroll. Thankfully for Liverpool Gerrard is returning at a good time and in his short cameo against Newcastle it was clear to see how midfield players can cause damage by making runs into the box made possible by the defence’s preoccupation with the strikers. Even Andy Carroll looked like a new man or should I say looked like the man he was at Newcastle when he was getting quality delivery in from Gerrard.

Unfortunately Liverpool fans are going to have to wait 7(correct at time of writing) more games before they can see Gerrard and Suarez get a run together and surely that partnership will be damaging. In the meantime people are looking to strikers as the solution for Liverpool, Bent among others being touted to solve their problems in front of goal.

However I would ask the question would an out and out striker, a player like Bent solve Liverpool’s lack of goals from the middle of the park and wide areas? Will it solve the lack of quality from wide areas? I am not saying a new striker will not improve Liverpool and give them more variety nor am I saying players like Carroll do not have to improve, all players do. However I am trying to assess where their problems truly lie on the pitch.

One thing is definite, it is going to take more than an out and out striker to make the necessary tweaks that Liverpool need to be sorted in order to achieve a top four finish and make their way towards dominance in England and Europe.

Follow Dominic Allen on Twitter @dominic_allen

17 thoughts on “Where Is Liverpool Lacking On The Pitch?”

  1. I am more upset with Downing and that money spent than Carroll because of his age. Hoping the presence of a pure poacher will take attention away from Suarez and/or Carroll, allowing them room to operate. Just read today Carroll was better at NUFC because he was allowed to roam more, while at LFC he’s simply a target for floating crosses from Adam, Henderson, and Downing.

    Staying positive however. We are better than 12 months ago, have owners willing to spend, and our defense is top notch. Hoping for the CC trophy and a strong FA run!

    With all our problems we are 3 behind Chelsea and 2 behind Arsenal that’s a decent spot all things considered.

    1. You failed to see that at Newcastle Carroll still wasn’t a very good player for whom you would pay 15-20 million pound for. I doubt he’d be able to make at “this” Newcastle where they pass the ball around a lot more. Why would Liverpool allow him to roam more like u said when he is so limited technically, he’ll easily be dispossessed of the ball.

  2. If we get forth this season il be made up. People forget gerrard hasnt had a season really henderson carrol adam an downing not been good enough yet suarez has ban so surely if get in top 4 with them negative is a positive? Next season buy a few players get the players above performing an gerrard fit good times ahead

  3. Carroll has quality?? when did that happen? A quality striker will ALWAYS score goals. At Newcastle it was hoof the ball 80 yards for Carroll to head. At Liverpool it is much more controlled quick passing game out from the back. This is not to the forte of a big lumbering centre forward like Carroll. He is slow and spends a considerable amount of time ball watching. He is a one dimensional player that is easy to mark. But his Liverpool experience is not entirely his fault. He’s been brought in with the hope he could improve and adapt to their style. Sadly this is not happening and the guy now has zero confidence. Liverpool could use Bent, a much more skilful player with a definite goal poacher approach.

    Downing has also proved to be a poor signing. He very rarely ventures out of his own safety zone of playing, and looks very uncomfortable when a bit of ingenuity is called for and perhaps a pop at goal. He hasn’t improved since leaving Aston Villa. Alternatively Craig Bellamy is a much more dangerous wide man and a threat. He has speed, skill and always trying to make something happen. Sure he’s a renagade who likes to yap, but who cares, at least he’s passionate. Yet “King Kenny” often leaves him out.

    Something is dreadfully wrong at Liverpool when Gerrard can come on against Newcastle and make everybody look like second division material. Yet he’s then left out for the Man City game and comes on only when the game is lost? What’s that all about?

    1. Yes, yes, and yes. So many LFC supporters are going out of there way to defend Carroll and not admit what is so easy to see.

      Sure, the wide players haven’t done their job, and Kenny’s insistence on playing Downing ahead of Bellamy and Henderson ahead of just about anybody is baffling.

      But here’s a comparison: Andriy Voronin (a favorite whipping boy for the LFC fans): 27 appearances, 5 goals.
      Andy Carroll: 23 appearances, 4 goals.

    2. Guys – Bellamy has knee issues due to age and wear and tear. After every game he has fluid drained from them by the team medical staff. That is why King Kenny doesn’t play him as often as we would all like.

  4. Let’s face it Carroll is just a fat peter crouch, maybe he will develop into more than just a target man over time but I don’t see that happening right now. Hell even crouchie has good skill for a big man and he can do more than just win the ball in the air.

  5. carrol scored 11 goals for newcastle in the first half of last season. so what?
    even chamak scored more than that. the problem is they are one dimensional.

  6. They need to find a way to Maxi on the pitch. Before Suarez’s suspension, Liverpool were much more clinical in the final third with Maxi on the pitch. He connected with Suarez better than any other player in my opinion. I don’t think it’s coincidence either. The two South American players really lift the side offensively I think. Suarez can create which he is sensational at doing and on many occasions the beneficiary of his creativity is Maxi. Maxi is a deadly finisher for the most part and has many big goals for Liverpool.

    However, with Suarez gone I think King Kenny may try to put Maxi in that slot though it won’t work because Maxi is a finisher not creator but this is just my opinion. I think the best thing to do now is put Kuyt in Suarez spot or just change the formation to be better suited for Gerrard. I know they are really missing a player like Raul Meireles. Carroll, Downing and Henderson need to step up in a big way if Liverpool want to contest for a Champions League spot because they will lose it right in this stretch.

  7. I can’t believe someone dedicated a whole article to this!!!….I’ll make your job easier.

    More chances created than any other team
    Hit the woodwork more times than any other team
    Lowest chance conversion rate than any other team

    Their problem is in the Final 3rd…..they need some luck, to be A LOT more clinical and a couple of attacking signings wouldn’t hurt either (Striker and an AM/winger).

    And all it took was 6 sentences to answer your question.

  8. I admit I havnt watched a lot of Liverpool this year but from what I saw against City they just seemed to be pumping long diagonal balls into the box hoping Carroll will make something happen or at the very least knock it down for a on coming midfielder.

    If they really want to play his strength they need the wingers to get to the bye line and put in crosses that he can run on to and attack in the air. Much like Hernandez scores more goals when utds wingers get deep and pull the ball back to him in box Carroll needs the same kind of service to be effective, problem is Liverpool don’t have those types of wingers right now.

    1. You didn’t watch your team at anfield???!!!!

      If it wasn’t for De Gea they would have walked away with it. Clearly the better side.

  9. Quality strikers DO NOT ALWAYS score goals, it’s a thing called form, especially when they are young and lack experience at the top level, inconsistency is a part of a young players nature, unless they are the expception of world class players, wheich are far and few between at a young age. World class in the sense of competing with any player of any age when they are only in their early 20’s.

    Giving Carroll 6 months to develop and then be judged, for me is far too premature. I’m not saying there is a guarentee that he will come good, however I do think it is reasonable to say it is too early to judge. Young players have more potential to adapt, grow, change etc in their game. A prime example is Lucas Leiva who was brought in as an attacking midfielder, hated by most…. but was transformed into a holding player and now has few critiques from LFC.

    In regards to Gerrard coming on and making everyone else look like second division players, I would say he could do that in most mataches, against any team. That together with the fact that Liverpool have many new signings that came from clubs lower in the league that would not have the same expectations of winning week in week out nor would they have the training, coaching , etc available at a club like Liverpool nor would they have had the oppurtunity to train and play with top quality players week in week out. Time.

    Why does kenny play henderson so much, because in 5 years bellamy, kuyt and maxi won'[t be around.

    Any team who is going to rely on one striker and no one else for goals, in the long run won’t get too far. In the modern game, in my opinion you NEED your strikers to be finishing but you also need alot of goals from other players. Fact.

    Chance creation and clear cut chance creation are not the same. Watching Liverpool this season, taking suarez out….. for me the amount of clear cut chances are not as flattering as what could be counted as a chance, in my opinion.

    The point of the article is not to defend Carroll, but more to emphasis that to achieve top honors in England and Europe in the years ahead, LFC’s problems lie beyond andy carroll, suarez , and strikers,

    Whether Carroll will adapt and come good is anyones GUESS, however in my experience I believe it more reasonable to give players with such clear potential, that have not playe at the top long, some time, a few seasons before they can be judged to be shrewd or bad siginings.

    Again, the point of the article is to suggest LFC’s problems lie beyond a clinical finisher, in the sense of a striker and more clinical finishers all around.

  10. Liverpool clearly miss Lucas in midfield. He was able to break down opponen’s play very effectively. So a defensive midfielder is needed. Neither Spearing nor Henderson has been good there. Carroll isn’t clinical enough and is too one-dimensional to be a top striker for Liverpool. Yesterday against Oldham he scored a good goal only to miss an easy header a few minutes later. A decent striker is also needed.

  11. @clampdown In your comparison of Carroll and Voronin, you fail to mention a) Vornonin was in his late 20’s and that was over two seasons b) the context of the stats. Carroll came to liverpool injured, and is only a man starting his career, unlike voronin who was in his “prime” years at LFC.

    @scrumper “At Newcastle it was hoof the ball 80 yards for Carroll to head” out of the 11 goals carroll scored in the premier league , how many were with his head?

  12. This isn’t the old Liverpool that were expected to be in the top 4 and do well in Europe.

    Folks they are rebuilding. 5 of their starting 11 weren’t here a year ago, that’s half the outfield. For a side that’s putting a new team together they are still only 3 points off 4th.

    They are also strongly linked to 2 wingers this transfer window. Hoilett and Sinclair.

    Give em time and then judge the finished product.

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