Liverpool FC’s Striking Options

January 16, 2013 in Features, Premier League by Karl Coppack

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There was an extraordinary moment in the recent Man Utd v Liverpool game. Liverpool broke on the left and no fewer than three Liverpool forwards - namely Sturridge, Suarez and Borini - ran into the box and waited to attack the ball.

Okay, this isn’t quite going to trouble the pages of Fortean Times or have Derek Acorah running towards a production company, but it’s an unusual sight for Liverpool fans this season. Three strikers after a paucity in recent months is a cause for optimism.

Carroll Liverpool

Last summer saw the departure of Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll with only Fabio Borini joining Luis Suarez as our forward options. The transfer deadline day ended at 9.30pm rather than 11pm for LFC when our M.D., Ian Ayre, went home without a striker or so much as a cut-price Clint Dempsey to take into the autumn months. The inevitable happened. Borini got injured on international duty, leaving just Luis Suarez, a man who gets booked every two or three games for dissent, to lead the line. Thanks Ian. Glad you beat the traffic. Subsequently, our points total after 19 games was the joint lowest since Roy Hodgson. I didn’t have time to see how much further we’d have to go back to find a worst start, but I’ll guess any footage of it would be in black and white.

The wage bill was trimmed (Kuyt, Bellamy, Maxi, Aquilani and Cole), but so were Brendan Rodgers’ options.

And then came Daniel. Two games, about ninety minutes worth of football, into his Liverpool career and already two goals. The first a lovely finish against Mansfield in the Cup and then a tap in against United. Though the second goal was easier, it is the more encouraging. A second striker breaking past a defender to stab in a breaking ball is a rare sight, and impossible when you don’t have a recognised second striker on the pitch.

Borini too has returned, but he still remains an enigma to the fans, and even to his manager to some extent. During a painful, soporific goalless home draw with a painful, soporific Stoke side when the game was crying out for another attacking iron in the dullest of fires, Rodgers chose Joe Cole over Fabio. When Borini has played at all, he’s been shoved wide. He has still yet to score while the new signing is already besting him.

Relying on Suarez, who has been outstanding this season, has got us so far, so it’s great to have some back-up. Ordinarily, Gerrard would help but his position in the team is still not settled. Play him deep and he can’t affect the game, push him forward and we get Allen and a still unfit Lucas being pushed into the back four as both Mansfield Town and Man Utd showed. If Sturridge can create chances without Gerrard, we can have the skipper effectively captaining the midfield first and the team second.

A sense of balance within the first team is welcome as things stand, but it’s worrying that the owners’ priorities is austerity rather than building.

It’s going to be an interesting five months for LFC. It may be the first chance for Rodgers to finally show his vision for the club rather than being hamstrung by absentee owners and injuries. Let’s see.