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It's Time to Call it Quits on the Victor Moses Experiment

After making an instant impact on the wing, Brendan Rodgers' attempts to play Victor Moses in the ten role have been a complete failure. Now the manager must accept that and move on to Plan B.

Julian Finney

A win is a win, and it's hard to gripe overmuch following one, especially coming as the last one did for Liverpool following a rather disappointing two week stretch that saw two poor league performances end in a draw and loss and a game but losing effort against rivals Manchester United in the League Cup. Liverpool, though, were hardly perfect against Sunderland on the weekend, and as good as it might have been for fans and the players to see them back in the win column, the good fortune that helped to deliver all three points cannot be ignored.

For much of the first half, Sunderland were the better side, controlling the game and pushing Liverpool deep. When Liverpool did get hold of the ball, the visitors at the Stadium of Light were rarely able to do anything of note with it until an uncalled Daniel Sturridge handball gave them an undeserved lead. Though Sunderland weren't knocked out of the game completely, they never looked quite as dominant, allowing Liverpool to ease to victory in the end despite their continuing struggles when it came to holding possession and building play.

Much of the reason for Liverpool's inability to build with the ball rest at the feet of Victor Moses, who for the second game in a row looked uncomfortable slotted into the ten role off Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. The two strikers frequently terrorised the Sunderland defence as the match wore on, but very rarely was Moses involved, and for long stretches he might as well not have been on the pitch. Those rare occasions that did see him impact play all came when he drifted into wide areas, temporarily taking on the winger role he's known for.

And therein lies the crux of the issue: Victor Moses is not a ten. He's not the sort of player to corral a driven pass with a silky first touch and his back is to goal. He's not the sort who knows instinctively where the opposition is behind him so that with his second touch he can send the ball to a teammate or know there's time to turn and run. It's hardly his fault he isn't that sort of player; it's simply the reality. Victor Moses is, at the end of the day, a winger—and a very good winger, as seen when he was arguably Liverpool's best player on his debut against Swansea.

Of course, he may have it in him to improve his first touch and adjust to the speed of the game in the middle of the pitch. However, Liverpool only have the player for the year on a loan, and one imagines that by the time Moses could learn to be effective playing just off the strikers, it would be time to send him back to Chelsea. As a short term solution, then—as something of a stop-gap measure—it's hard to see the appeal of playing Moses anywhere but in his strongest role on the left wing, and if the past two games were meant as a kind of experiment, it's time to accept that experiment has been a failure and move on.

Clearly the fullback injury crisis played a role in forcing Brendan Rodgers to try Moses in a more central role. Yet having failed to look comfortable there, the manager must now look to other options, even if that means there isn't room for Moses in the starting eleven until Glen Johnson returns to action some time after the international break. Until then, Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique are far more suited to play wingback in a 3-5-2 system, and as much as Rodgers might see Moses as one of his best eleven players in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, those wingbacks doesn't leave much room for him in the 3-5-2.

Instead, it's a system that seems to argue for either the inclusion of Luis Alberto or for Steven Gerrard to take on a more advanced role. Neither might be seen as an ideal solution by the manager, but having tried Plan A to fill the ten role in the 3-5-2 and with Philippe Coutinho still out injured, it's time to try Plan B. Liverpool may have won on Sunday against Sunderland, but victory came down to good fortune and deadly finishing while the side clearly struggled with possession in midfield. Unless Rodgers is counting on such fortune to aid Liverpool's cause every time out, experimenting with options other than Victor Moses is a must in the coming weeks.

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