This season has been a disaster for Liverpool so far. Luis Suarez has gone, Daniel Sturridge is officially made of glass and over £100m has been cast down the nearest drain. The Reds sit tenth in the Premier League, with their swashbuckling attacking game of last season a distant and fading memory, while has been ‘SAS’ replaced with… erm… no one.
But ‘tis the season for giving, and maybe, just maybe Rodgers could get a few presents under his Christmas tree to help sort out 2014/15. We found his list to Santa, and here are the highlights…
Losing Luis Suarez was always going to make life difficult for Liverpool and Rodgers, but being without Sturridge as well has de-railed the first half of the Reds’ season. Of the Merseysiders’ 101 Premier League goals, just over half were netted by ‘SAS’, and removing that amount of firepower really has been detrimental.
It’s not just goals, Sturridge’s movement is also key in Rodgers’ attacking set-up, with the England hit-man’s pace vital in stretching defences and allowing the likes of Philippe Coutinho to shine with his range of passing.
Rodgers played down the Tottenham comparisons over the summer, but, on the face of it, the Reds have mimicked the London club with their £100m+ spend. Very few of Liverpool’s host of additions have been a success by any stretch of the imagination, with Dejan Lovren – the most error-prone centre-back in the Premier League – arguably the worst of the lot.
Few, if any, of Rodgers’ new stars are poor players, so logic would suggest that they will come good eventually. This has been proven, to an extent, by Lazar Markovoic, who has been impressive in recent weeks.
Despite sitting tenth in the table as the halfway point of the season approaches, Liverpool are only nine points off fourth spot. Although another title charge was talked up before a ball was kicked, the ultimate aim for the Reds is to qualify for the Champions League again, and they owe much for their fighting chance to the stuttering form of their rivals.
Arsenal appear unable to hold onto a lead, Spurs are Spurs and Everton are really struggling this term. West Ham occupy the fabled slot right now, but it would be no surprise to see the overachieving Hammers slip back down the league eventually.
A “calculated risk” was how Rodgers described the controversial addition of Balotelli, and it’s fair to say that the gamble has not paid off. The Italian is yet to find the back of the net on the Premier League, and has already been banned for a game due to his unorthodox use of social media. At 24-years-of-age, ‘Balo’ should now be entering his peak and putting his ‘wild times’ behind him, yet he seems unable to pull out any sort of form and has already been linked with a move back to his homeland.
Getting anywhere near the £16m they paid for him is unlikely for Liverpool, but it would be a lovely Christmas present for Rodgers if a Serie A club phones through ahead of the January transfer window.
With Mignolet dropped “indefinitely”, Brad Jones is now the No. 1 at Anfield, which tells you all you need to know about the goalkeeping ‘crisis’ on Merseyside. In his two Premier League games, the Australian has conceded five goals from eight shots on target, and also dropped a clanger in the Capital One Cup. Mignolet’s form was poor before his axing as well, which would suggest that a new stopper is needed.
Petr Cech, Guillermo Ochoa and Mattia Perin are rumoured targets, and Rodgers would surely be happy with any of the trio.