Is this the reason behind Liverpool's poor early-season form?

Does Mario Balotelli's misfiring form explain Liverpool's poor start to the season?

Liverpool have just seven points to their name this season, and quite frankly, Brendan Rodgers' side have struggled at times. With only two Premier League victories thus far, the club are far from the position they will want to finish come the end of the season. 

On the back of their highest league finish for five seasons, the Reds broke their own record for both transfer expenditure and net spend as Rodgers looked to consolidate his side's re-emergence as top four contenders.

Luis Suarez's exit hit the club hard over the summer, and as expected, the Merseyside outfit as still suffering from a hangover as a result of his departure. The 2013/14 PFA Player of the Season played an integral role in last term's second placed finish, scoring a remarkable 31 goals in 33 appearances. 

The club spent a total of £131million on new players, including £16million on former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli; who, it is widely hoped, possesses the ability to replace the ingenuity and spark lost with the departure of their talismanic top scorer.

In the absence of Daniel Sturridge through injury, the Italian international has been relied on to lead the line for the Reds. However, he is yet to score a Premier League goal for his new club.

Compare this to Suarez's and Sturridge's efforts, at the beginning of last season and the cracks in Rodgers' side begin to show. The former managed six goals in his opening four league matches, while the latter averaged one in each appearance. 

In his last 20 Premier League matches - for both Manchester City and Liverpool - Balotelli has hit 63 shots but scored just one goal. Against Everton alone, he fashioned 10 attempts; a superior total to the entire opposition team combined. 

Thus far, he has recorded just shy of 20 shots at goal, failing to convert a single chance; a miserable record for a centre-forward of his calibre.

Had he been firing on all cylinders from an early stage, there is no doubt Liverpool would have a greater points total from their opening seven league fixtures. But as a consequence of his misfiring form, the Reds have struggled.

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