To be clear, Fabio Borini might not have had a significant impact on today's 0-0 draw against Sunderland. He's looked lively at times when selected by Brendan Rodgers but anonymous at others, and he's yet to prove that he is a front-line, first-choice forward in the Premier League. His performances last season on loan at Sunderland seem to suggest he's capable of doing so in spurts, but the 23-year-old is yet to prove that he should among the first names on the team sheet.
What he has proven--maybe by default, considering Liverpool's injuries--is that he's probably deserving of a spot on the bench, and that he might be capable of having some sort of influence on Liverpool's attack if and when selected. He's certainly proven to be more mobile and flexible than Rickie Lambert, who, while impressive in his own right of late, has now completed a full 90 minutes five times since November 23. That's a lot for anyone, but for a striker who isn't the paciest or most enduring even with a full week's rest, it's proven to be severely limiting.
On Saturday afternoon Lambert looked labored and off the pace, unable to get out in front of crosses or have any discernible impact on a Liverpool attack that was almost entirely reliant on Raheem Sterling. For Rodgers, though, it was Lambert at the start and Lambert at the finish, as he failed to include Borini for the third match in a row. And asked about it post-match, the manager had little to say:
BR:"No Borini is just a managerial decision I make. No issue there at all."— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) December 6, 2014
Borini is not a central striker, and he's not a player who will turn a match on its head. He is the only other fit striking option in the senior squad, however, and Rodgers' insistence on leaving him out is both confusing and concerning. Liverpool's fixture list is among the busiest in the Premier League, and rather than include Borini, Rodgers opts to go it alone with Lambert regardless of how many minutes the 32-year-old has logged, and it looks set to continue as they play out a crowded month of December.
It all may well change in the coming days, though a Champions League decider and a visit to Old Trafford don't appear to be matches in which Fabio Borini will get a chance. So with Mario Balotelli still injured and Daniel Sturridge out until the new year, it leaves the club with one option up top--one that's looking increasingly ineffective as the minutes pile up.