Liverpool forwards failing to fill Luis Suarez void, says Jamie Carragher

Individual errors also proving costly, says Sky Sports pundit

Mario Balotelli of Liverpool is substituted for Rickie Lambert during the Premier League match against Aston Villa; Fabio Borini
Image: Borini, Lambert and Balotelli: Struggling to fill the void left by Suarez

Liverpool’s defensive errors continue to cost them – but replacing Luis Suarez remains Brendan Rodgers’ greatest dilemma, says Jamie Carragher.

The Reds were hardly water-tight as they finished second in the Premier League last season but individual slip-ups have continued to plague them this term, with Alberto Moreno the latest culprit.

Week by week it’s shown Liverpool were almost a one man team at times last season.
Jamie Carragher

The Spaniard was unable to clear the ball in his own box against Newcastle on Saturday, allowing Ayoze Perez to fire in the winner and leave Liverpool seventh,  12 points adrift of table-topping Chelsea.

However, Carragher pointed to Liverpool’s blunt attacking play – which has accounted for just 13 goals in 10 Premier League games this season – as their major cause for concern.

The Sky Sports pundit was reluctant to discuss Suarez’s absence but conceded the now-Barcelona forward is proving difficult to replace.

“There’s obviously a massive problem,” said Carragher, referring to Liverpool’s forward trio of Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert managing 0 goals and just 45 touches in the opposition box between them in 888 minutes of Premier League football this season.

“Sergio Aguero, on his own, has had 90 touches in the opposition box and that tells its own story.

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Brendan Rodgers admits Liverpool are struggling to adapt to life without Luis Suarez

“I’m trying to stop talking about Suarez. He’s not there anymore, forget him, he’s moved on and he’s not coming back. You’ve got to look at what you’ve got now. And they have to get more from those attacking players. There’s also got to be a lot more creativity in that midfield.

“But the longer it goes on it shows how important Suarez was – more important than we all thought at the time.

“At times last season Brendan Rodgers, in press conferences, came out and said ‘we’re not a one-man team, you’re being disrespectful to some of the other players’. But week by week it’s shown Liverpool were almost a one-man team at times last season. Those stats are damning really.

“Ok, they’ve had criticism defensively but this is probably as big a problem, if not more.”

Liverpool striker stats
Image: Liverpool's three strikers have failed to threaten often enough this term

Mistakes

As for Liverpool’s defensive problems, Carragher questioned whether the personnel in the backline were defensively-minded enough.

For the past three Premier League seasons, Liverpool rank second only to Tottenham in defensive errors leading to shots and goals, with Arsenal third.

Carragher accepted individual mistakes were difficult for Rodgers to account for on match day – but suggested the Liverpool boss’ recruitment policy may be the root of the problem.

“Last season we talked about the defending, the goals they conceded and we’ve done the same this season as well,” said Carragher.

“But let’s look at that over the last three seasons, Brendan Rodgers’ time at the club. Tottenham and Arsenal are there, but without us looking at the numbers you’d think those three teams would be up there – defenders who make mistakes.

“Is that down to a manager? Is that down to the players they buy? Can a manager do a lot if a player makes a mistake? That’s a massive problem for Liverpool. If you’ve got defenders that are making mistakes, how do you rectify it? Do they think defensively-minded enough? Are they proper defenders? Or are they more interested in being on the front foot, attacking? That is Brendan Rodgers' philosophy.” 

Liverpool defensive errors
Image: Liverpool's defence have served up plenty of opportunities for their opponents under Rodgers

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