The FA’s decision to ban Luis Suarez for eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra is an undoubted blow for Liverpool’s top four aspirations.
The lynchpin of Liverpool’s attack, the Uruguayan is the first name on Kenny Dalglish’s team sheet – and not only because the alternative is Andy Carroll.
But while Suarez repeatedly engineers himself space in the penalty area and creates numerous chances for teammates with his pace and movement, five league goals in 17 appearances this season also helps to explain why Liverpool have scored fewer goals than Newcastle, Norwich, Sunderland, Bolton and Blackburn.
Liverpool’s failure to find the back of the net cost them dear once again on Wednesday, with a 0-0 draw away to Wigan causing them to lose ground to fifth-placed Arsenal.
Their lack of goals at home has been a particularly worrying, with more than one goal scored in a match just twice so far this season.
This has enabled Sunderland, Norwich, Swansea, Manchester City and Manchester United to grab a point at Anfield, which is a cause for concern ahead of the Reds’ home game against Blackburn on Monday.
Rovers might be bottom of the league with just ten points from 17 games, but they have been more successful than Swansea on their travels – and the Welsh side managed a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Blackburn have also scored more goals than Liverpool this season, with Everton reject Yakubu proving more prolific than the much-heralded Suarez.
With Blackburn conceding at least twice in ten of their last 11 games, even Liverpool’s misfiring attacking should be able to take advantage of Rovers’ defensive deficiencies.
And while they have a notoriously leaky defence, so too have Wigan, who prevented Liverpool from scoring in midweek.
Does this mean Steve Kean’s strugglers can come away from Anfield with something to show for their efforts?
If they do, then punters brave enough to back them will be laughing, with a draw priced at 9/2 and a Blackburn win at 10/1 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
But with Blackburn conceding at least twice in ten of their last 11 games, even Liverpool’s misfiring attacking should be able to take advantage of Rovers’ defensive deficiencies.
This makes a Liverpool win the best bet at odds of 1/4.
Of course, the fact that Liverpool are in sixth position having scored just 20 goals in 17 games means that they are strong in other areas, and particularly in defence.
The Reds have the best defensive record in the league and have conceded just twice in their last six matches.
This suggests that, irrespective of the fact Blackburn have scored more goals than Liverpool, Rovers will struggle to get on the scoresheet at Anfield.
With this in mind, a clean sheet for Liverpool looks a good option at 18/25, as does a win to nil for the home team at odds of 22/25.
But the best bet could be on Liverpool to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 at 7/5, with this allowing for Blackburn’s defensive problems yet also factoring in the Reds’ failure to score more than three times in a single game this season.
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