Liverpool legend John Aldridge believes the club’s hopes of success this season rest on the shoulders of attacking pair Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana.
Liverpool are without a win in five matches following a 2-2 draw at Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad in Wednesday night’s Champions League match, with a victory needed in the last group game against FC Basel to make it to the knockout phase.
The club also sit 12th in the Premier League table at present, having taken 14 points from their 12 fixtures, and have suffered six defeats so far – the same amount as during the entire title-contending 2013-14 campaign.
There have been considerable problems at both ends of the pitch, too, with 18 goals conceded and just 15 scored in the absence of Luis Suarez and the injured Daniel Sturridge, as the £110 million-worth of summer additions have failed to make the desired impact.
With manager Brendan Rodgers coming under increasing pressure, Aldridge thinks the Northern Irishman will need to do more business in the winter transfer window, but adds that a lot will hinge on how both Sterling and Lallana perform over the coming months.
“When I played for Liverpool, you'd expect to go to a team of Ludogorets's level and win. But we're not there at the moment,” he wrote in his column for the IBTimes UK.
“We're in transition – yes, you can say that Liverpool have been in transition quite a lot over recent years, but don't forget Brendan bought in nine players in the summer. Man United are going through transition as well – it happens to all teams.
“How can Brendan change things? Well they've got to get a new striker in January, and I think he might be inclined to sign a goalkeeper, even though I personally wouldn't do that. In terms of the team, I'd give Lambert a run of games now. Balotelli's not done much so far, and Rickie's proved that he's up for the fight and he's got that bit of quality as well.
“Ultimately I think a lot hinges on Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana,” he continued. “Good wingers will be crucial with Lambert up front, and it was great to see Sterling regain some confidence last night. He gave us some real X-factor last season, and we need him to do it again.
“Lallana has shown some flashes so far, and I think he's got the quality we need. He hasn't really replicated the form he showed at Southampton, but now's the perfect time to do it! He's the ideal player for Rodgers – versatile, clever, tricky – and I think he and Raheem could be the men to save Liverpool's season.”
Saturday afternoon will be Liverpool’s next chance to end their winless streak, with Rodgers’ side facing Stoke City at Anfield.