By David Lynch at Anfield
Another game at Anfield and yet more disappointment for the home support.
Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Sunday afternoon typified the Reds’ struggles at their spiritual home, an 18-month run of results which makes particularly poor reading. The Merseyside club have now won just three of their last 15 Premier League games in L4, a run which is simply not good enough for a team with their lofty aspirations.
However, Sunday’s game also perfectly conveyed a twist in the narrative which is seemingly unique to this season, as Luis Suarez saved the hosts from embarrassment with a superb goal. He produced a barely believable piece of control and matched it with a calm finish, only to see his side fail to build on their second-half superiority and find a winner.
The Uruguayan has previously attracted criticism for his profligacy, but that ill seems to be have been well and truly consigned to the past. Seven league goals in ten games dictate that the blame for recent toothless performances can no longer lie at the feet of Suarez – whilst his team-mates’ contributions surely deserve further scrutiny.
Suso struggled yet again in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League, showing some marvellous touches on the ball but failing to truly impact on the game or threaten the goal. Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling, for all his qualities and tender years, still appears some way from being a consistent goal threat at this level.
But it is not just in attack where the former Ajax man has little help. It is hard not to think that a player of his calibre looks around at the evident weaknesses in the team and sighs to himself, wondering when those positions will be filled by competent incumbents.
Jose Enrique is likely to have attracted as much ire from the 25-year-old as he did his own fans during the clash with the Magpies. The Spaniard’s attempts to match Andrea Dossena’s bid for the title of ‘worst Liverpool full-back in history’ are as comic as they are worrying and his problems on the left flank present yet another hole to plug.
Stewart Downing was tasked with turning the game in the hosts’ favour, but fell short of the standards required as he failed to help Suarez’s one-man push for three points with any effective contributions. That £16 million signing Jordan Henderson remained on the bench whilst this frustration grew must surely add to concern over a squad sorely lacking in quality.
These are the problems which ensure Brendan Rodgers will need every single second of his three-year deal to turn things around. But whether Suarez will take that journey with him is the question which must have entered the Northern Irishman’s head at some point.
At times he looks simply too good for this Liverpool side, and it will remain that way unless Rodgers can match the Salto-born striker’s quality with his next additions to the squad. Of course, the 39-year-old has already signalled his intention to delve into the transfer market in January, but the gravity of the decisions he must make is now clearer than ever.
Liverpool desperately need to add goals if they are to avoid a mid-table finish and having their reputation as a mediocre side cemented. But they must also convince their leading lights that a bright future at Anfield is coming, and soon.
Follow David Lynch on