Liverpool slipped to a miserable 0-1 defeat at home to Southampton on Saturday…
What we learnt about Liverpool during this afternoon’s awful performance against Southampton:
No Coutinho = no creativity…
Liverpool fans held their breath nervously when Coutinho left the pitch against Swansea with a shoulder injury last Monday, and their fears were confirmed when the club confirmed the young Brazilian would be out for six weeks…
But on Saturday’s showing, even Liverpool fans underestimated how much they would miss the playmaker. The Reds lacked any creativity in the final third; the passing was abysmal, and with Steven Gerrard sitting deep, there was no player capable of finding the runs of Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses.
Coutinho’s absence made ball retention much harder, and meant Sturridge began to cut a frustrated figure in the final third.
Thankfully for Reds’ fans, Luis Suarez will be available for Liverpool’s next league match – and the team badly needs him. The Reds were bereft of ideas, and more worryingly, bereft of any real creative talent in the final third. For as powerful and direct as Moses is, he can’t pull the strings in the final third the way Coutinho can.
The sooner the 21-year-old returns from injury the better…
Four centre-backs was a terrible selection choice…
Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho all started on Saturday for Liverpool. That’s four centre-halves, none of which have any real attacking impetus.
Against a slick passing team like Southampton, there was no need for Brendan Rodgers to start without fullbacks.
Starting these four against an aerial, physical side like West Ham or Stoke would seem plausible, but against Southampton, it ruined Liverpool’s fluidity.
It badly affected Liverpool’s width, and the team’s ability to play the ball out from the back. Sakho was unable to provide Victor Moses with proper support down the left, while Kolo Toure offered little down the right behind the poor Iago Aspas and then the frustrated Raheem Sterling.
This rendered Liverpool toothless going forward, and unnecessarily overcooked physically and aerially at the back. Ironically, even with four centre-backs, Liverpool still conceded from a corner.
No squad depth…
Liverpool’s bench looked like this:
- 01 Jones
- 03 Jose Enrique
- 34 Kelly
- 47 Wisdom
- 06 Alberto
- 31 Sterling
- 33 Ibe
Four of those players are teenagers, one is a goalkeeper, and the other two are fullbacks. The lack in squad depth at Liverpool is worrying. With Coutinho out injured, and Suarez still suspended, the options Rodgers had from the bench does not befit a team that went into the match topping the table.
With a bench as weak as that, was it wise for Rodgers to sell Stewart Downing and Jonjo Shelvey this summer…?
Iago Aspas is not very good…
On his arrival, Rodgers promised fans that despite Aspas’ lack of technical ability, his work-rate and desire more than made up for it…
Perhaps his work-rate stood out in La LIga, but in the Premier League, it definitely does not. At 25-years-old, he’s only ever played one full season in a top domestic league, and quite frankly he is not the player who will fire Liverpool into the top four. Aspas is playing from the right, as Downing did last term, and few fans would argue that the side is weaker in that area than it was last season.
To make matter worse, Aspas doesn’t have great pace, and his first-touch is so bad his second touch is often a tackle.
Such was the level of his performance, he suffered the ignominy of being substituted at half-time, although his replacement Raheem Sterling didn’t do himself any favours either.
With Luis Suarez and Coutinho playing off Daniel Sturridge, with Moses as a powerful option from the bench – Liverpool do perhaps have a chance of a top four finish, but not if Rodgers starts Aspas all season.
He’s ineffectual at best, and sub-Premier League quality at worst.