A poor European campaign has highlighted the differences between Liverpool’s success last season and the tough times being endured this year, and the Merseyside club’s Premier League campaign has been much the same. Sitting on 21 points, they are slowly moving further and further away from a top four spot, and, whilst they possess enough quality to secure Champions League football next season, their current form implies a slip down the table rather than a move up it.
One of the big problems faced this season has been the inability to cope without Luis Suarez or Daniel Sturridge. Suarez, who left the club for Barcelona, and Sturridge, who has been out of action for most the season with injury, scored the majority of the Reds goals last season, and, without their individual talent, the mistakes that were there last season are becoming more and more evident.
Having lost the two goalscorers, head coach Brendan Rodgers has tried to bring a more defensive style of football, but it has created something of a void in the side with players seemingly unaware of how they are meant to play. The majority of the side look lost on the field, and there is no real game plan on show.
Not having a game plan has taken the side who performed so well last season onto the level they can actually produce at - mid table - and former Everton forward Andy Gray believes that the Reds are nothing more than an average side when playing without the identity associated with Liverpool.
“Liverpool, I think, are an average side,” Gray told talkSPORT. “Last season they were an average side with four stand-out performers - Steven [Gerrard], Raheem Sterling and the two front men [Luis] Suarez and [Daniel] Sturridge.
“They have lost two of them [Suarez and Sturridge], Sterling has been iffy and Steven Gerrard has not quite been himself. Take those four performers away and what are you left with? You’re left with what we saw in midweek – an average side looking to find its identity.
“They looked out of sorts. They looked uncomfortable and I’m not sure they all knew what their jobs were.”
Liverpool will be looking to overcome their Champions League exit by kick-starting their Premier League campaign on Sunday with a visit to Manchester United.