Liverpool Transfers: Borini, Allen and Assaidi Give the Reds Much-Needed Pace
Along with addressing the weakness of the Reds with respect to a striker, a creative midfielder and a winger who will take on players, the Liverpool gaffer has played a masterstroke in my opinion, by compensating for lack of pace through the team.
Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and Oussama Assaidi are not word class—well, not yet.
However, I feel that these signings have strengthened Liverpool to a very good deal within a limited budget. Liverpool are all of a sudden looking very dangerous on the counterattack, even before a ball has been kicked for the league season.
Last season, the Reds had Stewart Downing and Steven Gerrard, who were both fast.
Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson are also swift, but it is very rare that a full-back leads the charge for a counter. And when that happened, Johnson scored the winner against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. That is the kind of power and impact that pace has on the game.
This has surprisingly not been realized at Liverpool for very long, just like the need for an out-and-out winger. There have only been a handful of players in Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, etc. in the recent past, who provided Liverpool with pace in the final third.
Reminiscing about Torres' goal against United in the 4-1 at Old Trafford or Babel's late strike against Arsenal in the Champions League sheds even more light on the impact of pace.
Liverpool, especially last season, found it hard to build swift counterattacks once the ball reached Dirk Kuyt, Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing or Andy Carroll.
Once other players are covered, it is the player with the ball that has or should do the running in a counter. Neither of these players could, and the opposition defense again took the shape that was hard to break down throughout the game.
The result was draw after draw at Anfield.
Away from home, Liverpool had more space as the home team took more onus to attack and left spaces.
Even if you looked just at Torres, it was frightening to see how many goals of his were just due to his pace. The finishing was just as good, but the quality of the chance created was primarily attributable to his pace.
Most teams in the top eight have players who make speed count to conjure goals. Liverpool hardly got behind the defense over the course of last season. They did so neither down the wings nor through the middle, at least as often as is significant.
Even Theo Walcott, who according to Alan Hansen does not have a "football brain" and relies heavily on his pace, had better statistics than almost the entire Liverpool team last season. Need I still elaborate the value of speed in today's Premier League era?
It is refreshing to see that Rodgers has finally realized this and that he has begun work on it already, with all three of his signings very swift indeed. He realized that with a limited budget, he could not go for marquee players, so he decided on the next best thing that would work.
Joe Allen is fast, can pass, retain possession and has good technique. Fabio Borini can hit his shots on target more often than not, aside from providing movement to release a player behind the defense. Oussama Assaidi is a bag full of tricks and may need time adjusting to a new league. Fans will hope he can beat players through his dribbling, otherwise, he is always an outlet for counters.
The starting signs for Rodgers and the Liverpool fans are good.
The gaffer is getting his pieces together to launch his assault on fourth spot, or who knows, if there are any other acquisitions (Nuri Sahin), surprisingly maybe even the title (excuse me, as I get blown away with the start-of-the-season excitement again and again).
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