Liverpool lost night to Lyon in the Champions League, extending their losing streak to a woeful 4 matches in all competitions, something that hadn’t happened in the last 22 years. All Liverpool supporters had been anticipating this fixture with some apprehension for in the past few weeks it was being mentioned in hush-hush tones by the Anfield faithful, that probably they didn’t have a very strong squad. Any doubts that anyone had about that were put to rest last night when in a very important, dare I say ‘must-win’ game against Lyon in the Champions League, Ngog started up-front for the 5-time kings of Europe. I have nothing against the 20-year old Frenchman, who scored full points for his enthusiasm, grit and determination last night but he just isn’t the finished product yet. I don’t think is deserving of being put in a position where the onus of winning a crucial game for his club is put on his relatively inexperienced shoulders.
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I realise that Ngog had been playing only because Fernando Torres wasn’t fit to play. Fernando Torres is without doubt one of the best strikers in the Premier League, he counts among 5 best in the world. So, what I don’t understand is, when you have such a great player in a team, shouldn’t his replacement (when he is not fit to play) , be at least somewhat comparable? Most top premier league clubs have pretty good options available, in case their preferred striker can’t play. Chelsea have Drogba, Anelka, Kalou and Sturridge and they still get flak about not having enough striking options. Last transfer window the fans were really hoping that they would in invest in new blood.
Manchester United, who have been criticized by some for selling Tevez and letting Ronaldo (almost a striker) go to Real Madrid, have available to them Berbatov, Rooney, Machida, Wellbeck and the recently added Michael Owen who has quite a track record despite his injury woes in the past few seasons
Arsenal, who have the best goal difference in the Premier League this season despite having very few clean sheets have the attacking prowess of Van Persie, Eduardo, Bendtner and Vela.
Tottenham and Aton Villa and Manchester City lower down in the top half of the table are always improving their squad. Tottenham have Keane, Defoe, the tall Crouch for scoring from off set-pieces and the talented Pavlyuchenko.
Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa have Carew, Heskey and the pacy Agbonlahor.
Manchester City who have been the most active in the last transfer window really went all out buying strikers this season. They boast of a formidable five quality strikers on their rolls. They have Adebayor, Tevez, Robinho, Santa Cruz and Bellamy, all players with big-game experience and the ability to change games.
Liverpool on the other hand have only Torres and Voronin, Babel, Kuyt, Ngog. 5 striking options just like Manchester City you’d say. Not quite. Manchester City players or any of the striking options available to the other clubs are used to playing big matches and most are ‘quality’ players comparable with the main strikers and capable of filling in whenever required. In the Liverpool list, Kuyt and Babel should have been the way to go with Torres out. Voronin though experienced has a tendency to under perform in big matches. I feel Rafael Benitez doesn’t play Babel enough (read not even close to enough). Liverpool could have greatly used the pace and skill that Ryan Babel brings to the game. I can’t help but wonder, shouldn’t the sum of the quality of a team always remain constant, meaning, when you have to replace someone as influential as ‘El Nino’ in a game, the entire team must give 10-20% more and the replacement should at least be half as good as the main guy. One super player in a team demands that the quality of the replacements available on the bench be upped. I think Liverpool need to invest in another quality striker very soon. I still think that Rafael Benitez is right for the job and will be able to once again take Liverpool right to the top but the time has come for Liverpool to wake up and realise that the bench needs strengthening. May be a good place to start would be to bring back striker Nemeth who is currently on loan to AEK Athens. Liverpool have been lucky so far to get goals from midfielders like the Benayoun goal last night (can’t figure out why he was taken off!) but if Liverpool are to be serious contenders for silverware this season, they can’t rely on such goals. Liverpool can probably offload some of the many ‘average’ players on their squad and invest in a few real quality. This needs to be done double quick because right now Liverpool have only one striker worthy of playing in the first team of the club which has won more trophies than any other club in the Premier League. Liverpool need to make sure that Fernando Torres, their main striker relates with the famous Anfield anthem ‘you’ll never walk alone’ .