Liverpool need goals to compete
Liverpool’s 2014-2015 campaign has run the gamut of emotions.
Liverpool was a mockery of a football club to start the season, turned into one of the best clubs in the Premier League and then collapsed in two crucial fixtures against other top-four contenders – losing to Manchester United and Arsenal in heart-breaking matches for Anfield faithful.
The season has fulfilled many of the predictions set out by analysts to start the season.
It was clear Liverpool were not a true second-place team last season, buoyed by Cindarella runs and huge performances from Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez.
It was obvious that selling Suarez was going to be excruciating, and it has been.
On a positive note, Liverpool has shored up their defense with some of those funds – bringing in the likes of Dejan Lovren and Emre Can, along with Alberto Moreno. The Mario Balotelli gamble has been a marked failure, as has Rickie Lambert in his limited role. Adam Lallana has been sensational for Liverpool, although injuries have limited him from showing his true potential thus far. Lazar Markovic was also a decent purchase, although his real impact might not be known for many years.
Still, Suarez’s departure was a death blow for Liverpool’s champion’s league hopes. The multiple injuries of Daniel Sturridge have exasperated Liverpool’s lack of a star-power strike force, leaving the club indecisive in front of goal.
Simon Mignolet has worked his way out of his early-season soft spell to be a passable starting goalkeeper, but he is still not a Champions League calibre goalkeeper on a consistent basis.
There is a massive question facing Liverpool as the season hits its final stretch: What is Liverpool’s identity, and are they still a contender?
The short answer is that they are still a fluid attacking side, who are capable of moving the ball with the best of teams. They can now defend comfortably as well. The issue is that they lack the clinical finishing of seasons past. Liverpool are not a contender for the League, and are marginally in the hunt for a champions league spot as they currently sit. Sure, they had a rough start to the season, but that doesn’t excuse being seven points out of a spot.
Liverpool have struggled to prove their worth as a club for many seasons, and every year that brings poor results – even with the occasional silverware – does not help the club’s image. Image is important, because the Football world is strong on appearance and reputation. Reputation is critical in attracting big name players, and what Liverpool needs now is a big name player.
If Liverpool can manage to hold on to their core players, despite interest from other clubs, they should target a leading striker. Obvious choices right now include Ligue 1’s Alexandre Lacazette (23 goals) or André-Pierre Gignac (18 goals). La Liga’s Carlos Bacca (17 goals) or Antoine Griezmann (16 goals) would also be great additions. Bas Dost (13 goals) and Franco Di Santo (12 goals) from the Bundesliga could provide the scoring punch the team needs as well. Fernandao (17 goals) from the Turkish Super League might be worth gambling on.
It is fantastic to be able to hold possession and dominate opposing teams, but without exceptional finishing in the final third, it is all for naught. Liverpool need to rebuild their scoring punch if they hope to challenge for Champions League contention on a regular basis.