One way or another, Liverpool will be moving on from their dismal loss on Sunday at Hull tonight. Ideally that happens with them scoring 15 goals in front of the home supporters with a Luis Suarez double hat-trick and Joe Allen adding in four of his own for good measure, but any sort of positive performance--and possibly even a not-so-great one--would better their output at the KC Stadium a few days ago.
What isn't going away, unfortunately, is the fact that Suarez is the only proven goalscorer left in the entire squad, with Daniel Sturridge out through January and few threats provided from the midfield or wide areas. Steven Gerrard's been wonderful from set pieces but added little from open play, and neither of Victor Moses nor Raheem Sterling gave the type of direct support that Suarez receives with Sturridge.
It's a problem that Brendan Rodgers is well aware of, and one that he hopes will be solved in part by adding Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas to the mix, both of whom arrived this past summer with the promise of creativity in the final third:
"The likes of Aspas and Alberto have been at the club for a few months now and have seen the difficulties of playing in the Premier League, how hard it is and the physical demands," Rodgers said. I can see them improving and working hard to fit into it. They will get improve and get better in time. There was always going to be a period of adjustment. With Daniel out, other players who have been working hard will get an opportunity. We now have to find a different way to win games. We can't just rely on one player for goals. It's the responsibility of everyone.
"It has to be for everyone to create and score goals. If some aren't available, we need to do more as a team - that was the message after the defeat to Hull.It was too predictable. Certainly you wouldn't have said that about us in the last number of months. We are normally exciting and create lots of chances. We are on the front foot. We conceded a poor goal which put us on the back foot but we needed to be more dynamic. That is something we will look to put right."
Their combined output has been minimal; Aspas was a regular before Suarez returned from his ban, operating in a more removed role in support of Sturridge and finding consistent form hard to come by. He was among the leaders in chances created, however, but between the return of Luis Suarez and injury, we haven't seen anything from him in months. Alberto's a slightly different case given his age, as well as the fact that the times we have seen him in action have left us wanting more. Those chances haven't come yet, though, even with Philippe Coutinho half-fit and the squad clearly in need of an additional source of creativity going forward.
Whether or not Aspas and Alberto can combine to lessen the impact of Daniel Sturridge's injury remains to be seen--the chances are probably coming, however, with the run of matches in December and the FA Cup kicking off in early January. The club may turn elsewhere when the transfer window opens, but for now it'll be interesting to see not only what they manage to contribute, but if Brendan Rodgers allows them the opportunity to.