Liverpool get a break from Premier League action this week, but it is neverless an important week for Jurgen Klopp’s side because it is looking more and more likely that success this season will be winning a cup rather than the No.1 priority of Champions League qualification via a top-four league place.
First up is a tricky away trip to Stoke on Tuesday in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semifinals, followed by a tricky trip to Exeter in the FA Cup at the weekend.
If Liverpool are to reach Wembley this season, Klopp will need to figure out a solution to the the team’s woeful goal scoring record. The Reds 22 goals scored in the opening 20 league games is the the worst run the club has ever had.
It is criminal that 18 months after smashing 101 goals on the way to finishing second in the league that Liverpool are where they are. The failure of the “transfer committee” to properly invest the Suarez and Sterling money has left Klopp with a decidedly below average attack.
Aside from that one brilliant season alongside Suarez, Daniel Sturridge has resorted back to what he has been his whole career. A fantastic player who cannot stay healthy. Sturridge is a player who should be complementing your striker, not someone you rely on to play 30 games a season.
With Sturridge injured the striker duties at Stoke have fallen to Christian Benteke again, a player who divides fans on the Kop. His two goals over the holiday season had many think that he had turned the corner, but his performance against West Ham on Saturday was appalling.
Unfortunately with Divock Origi out with a hamstring injury and Danny Ings with an anterior cruciate ligament problem, Klopp does not exactly have a plan B at the moment.
As a result, Klopp has been forced to adopt Rodgers’ tactics of using a mass of attack-minded midfielders rather than proper strikers. And has seen the same level of success as his predecessor so far.
Liverpool’s build-up play was often promising against West Ham but nearly everything caved in when they reached the opposition penalty area. That’s a fairly big flaw in any side wanting to win trophies and qualify for Europe.
If Liverpool are to do anything in the two cup games this week, somebody needs to step up and take the responsibility of scoring some goals. The logical person to do that is Benteke, but I am not convinced that he can deliver that.