Reams of copy are being produced on the demise of Liverpool ahead of their crunch Champions League clash away to Ludogorets, which they’re evens to win, but here at news.bwin.com/en/ we’ve tried to be a bit more proactive than most by helping with the Anfield rebuilding job.
Here’s a reasonably representative Liverpool XI from their season so far:
When assessing the Reds’ dreary start to this campaign it’s difficult to know where to start, as boss Brendan Rodgers’ biggest failings are perceived to be at the back, but they’re arguably doing much worse up front.
Between them, this Liverpool front three have managed a too-bad-to-be-true tally of eight goals in 41 appearances. To put that into context, Diego Costa scored as many in his first seven games in a Chelsea shirt.
The supporting cast that don’t feature in this XI have fared even worse; Rickie Lambert scored his first Liverpool goal on his 13th appearance in the 3-1 loss at Crystal Palace, while neither new signing Lazar Markovic nor seemingly-unwanted £11m man Fabio Borini have found the net this term.
However, they’ve had hardly any help from those behind them in the creativity stakes.
Captain Steven Gerrard scored 13 goals and laid on as many top-flight assists last season. In 2014/15 he has notched twice in the Premier League, with neither goals coming from open play, and has seen a key pass converted just once.
Gerrard is by no means the worst offender, as six of Liverpool’s league assists this season have come from either Sterling or Jordan Henderson, who both keep their places despite indifferent recent form, having starred during the oh-so-close 2013/14 title run in.
The skipper doesn’t because he has never been a holding midfielder and, at 34-years-old, lacks the athleticism to make an impact further forward.
The same cannot be said of young German Emre Can, who is clearly taking time to adapt to English football (although playing in a misfiring side isn’t helping), but has shown bags of potential, particularly in home and away matches against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Liverpool conceded 50 Premier League goals en route to second last term, with only Tottenham of the rest of the top eight letting in more, but their inability to function properly further up the pitch has exposed the backline to even greater horrors in this campaign.
Rodgers won’t be able to ditch the lot all in one go though, so left-back Alberto Moreno and centre-half Dejan Lovren, who admittedly has endured a torrid time, get the chance to show their worth in our improved outfit.
There’s no room for increasingly-frustrating goalie Simon Mignolet though, especially with Petr Cech reportedly considering swapping Chelsea’s bench for a fresh start on Merseyside.
Here’s how Liverpool could look if owners Fenway Sports Group sanctioned another Rodgers spending spree, realistically during the summer:
Porto’s Jackson Martinez, scorer of 53 goals in 70 Primeira Liga outings, has been linked with a move to Anfield and would be an ideal centre-forward foil for Daniel Sturridge, who likes to drift wide, if the England man ever returns from injury.
Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan has only just returned to fitness after a nightmare 12 months on the sidelines, but the 24-year-old is already talking about a potential future move away from Germany.
If Liverpool have half a chance to snap up Gundogan they must take it; the Bundesliga-winning Champions League runner-up has all the potential to become a beefier version of Cesc Fabregas in deep midfield.
His BvB teammate Neven Subotic has also been plagued with injuries over the past year, but has recently returned to something like the form that saw him make the Bundesliga team of the season as a 20-year-old back in 2009. With Dortmund struggling domestically, he could be gettable too.
That leaves right-back, where Glen Johnson continues to bewilder (although he did even worse at left-back against Palace), while marauding Spaniard Javier Manquillo can’t be trusted to stay in position.
Bacary Sagna has started just five of Manchester City’s 20 competitive games since he signed from Arsenal at the end of last term and is just the kind of solidly defensive full-back, who can also play at centre-half, that Liverpool could use right now.