In the tight packed schedule of Christmas in the Premier League, Liverpool FC saw their weaknesses exposed against other topflight teams. After losing 2-1 against Manchester City on Boxing Day and subsequently 2-1 to Chelsea, manager Brendan Rodgers and the Reds have had a wakeup call from their otherwise excellent start to the season.
The season started off with all men fit and ready to play, along with new additions to the team. However, Rodgers relied on the fitness of all his regular starters who midseason entered a bad injury spell. First Daniel Sturridge was injured on international duty, then Jose Enrique suffered a long-term knee injury and following December 7, skipper Steven Gerrard pulled a hamstring. Picking up a knock against Chelsea in Sunday’s game, Rodgers expects Jordan Henderson to be ready against Hull while Mamadou Sakho needs further treatment after being injured in the same game.
It became obvious against Chelsea that Liverpool had few quality players to pick from the bench. While Chelsea could boast of such substitutes as Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres and playmaker Juan Mata, Liverpool had to bring in two untried academy youngsters: Brad Smith and Jordan Rossiter. As substitute for goal-machine Luis Suarez, Rodgers only had the option of bringing in natural forward Iago Aspas who has yet to score his first goal in the Premier League while Daniel Sturridge is still unavailable. Comparing the quality of the bench with that of other top teams that Liverpool are competing against, the Merseyside team lacks serious depth in several positions.
Liverpool has through many seasons had issues filling their left-back position. In the absence of Enrique and deciding not to use young Jon Flanagan, Rodgers resolved to pulling his centre-back, Daniel Agger, to the left back – a position that he has tried under both former managers Kenny Daglish and Rafa Benitez. While it worked as a temporary solution, this “patching” will need to be addressed before the January transfer window closes.
Taking a closer look at the squad currently placed fifth in the Premier League, several other key areas must be bolstered. On the right back, Glen Johnson has had some poor performances since his recovery and with the only alternative, Martin Kelly, left out of the squad, Rodgers may want to look around Europe for an addition. The attacking midfield is also lacking the strength of teams such as Manchester City and Chelsea FC with Rodgers only relying on Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling for the creativity of a number 10. If reports are to believed, possible targets of Rodgers are Mohamed Salah from Basel and Christian Tello who plays for FC Barcelona.
Coming into the transfer window, Brendan Rodgers and his recruiters have a good track record. In January 2013, Liverpool purchased Sturridge and Countinho who have been massive successes since arriving.