Were it not for some slapstick Liverpool defending at QPR, another underwhelming Mario Balotelli performance would’ve certainly come in for more flack.
Lethargic and disinterested wouldn’t be unfair assessments of his Loftus Road performance, nor his Reds career to date, for that matter.
In six appearances, the £16m man is yet to score or assist a Premier League goal and, as a result, has drifted out to 66/1 in the market to be the division’s top marksman.
Based on recent showings there’d be few interested in these odds even with a few more 6’s thrown into the bargain, but while the top goalscorer gong is almost certainly out of the question – his duck leaves him nine behind Chelsea’s Diego Costa – expect to see Super Mario come good imminently.
After all, Balotelli has a track record of slow starts.
His first seven outings in England’s top tier brought just two goals – both coming at the Hawthorns against West Brom in an eventful game that also saw him sent off.
Likewise at first club Inter, where he graced no score sheets until April of his first season.
For City he went on to bag 20 league strikes in 54 outings – the bulk of these coming from the bench – while a similarly marginalised spell during his first stint in Serie A yielded the same number over 59 Nerazzurri appearances.
The 24-year-old’s international career followed a comparable blueprint too.
His first seven caps brought him just one goal, before he went on to register four in nine 2012 matches and seven in 13 a year later.
With a starting spot in the Liverpool team near-guaranteed, at least while Daniel Sturridge is sidelined anyway, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that once he does get off the mark domestically, the goals will come in reams as they did with the Rossoneri.
Balotelli’s debut for the other San Siro side brought two goals against Udinese.
He then went on to notch nine in his first seven Milan matches and departed his home nation for Anfield after plundering a laudable 30 goals in 54 games.
The annals reckon he’s sure to start scoring soon aren’t too far away, so back Balotelli to bag against Real Madrid next and cop an 8/5 payday if he delivers.