Liverpool started this season with a new manager, in Brendan Rodgers, and ambitions of securing a top-four Premier League finish and a return to the Champions League.
The team, though, has struggled to adapt to Rodgers’ pass-and-move vision, and the club has logged its worst start to a season in a century. After three defeats in their first five games, the Reds sit above only newly-promoted Reading and Queen’s Park Rangers in the Premier League table.
To turn around their season and to challenge for a top-four finish, these are some of the key areas that Liverpool need to improve.
In the last three years, the team that has finished fourth in the English Premier League has averaged about 68 goals a season, or about 1.8 goals a game.
In their first five games, Liverpool have managed only four goals, an average of 0.8 goals a match.
Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard are, arguably, the only proven goal scorers on Liverpool’s team.
If they are to climb the table, the Reds will need goal-scoring contributions, not only from forwards Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling, but also from midfield players like Jonjo Shelvey and Nuri Sahin.
Martin Skrtel, the club’s Player of the Season last year, cost Liverpool a victory in their home opener against Manchester City with a wayward back pass that allowed Carlos Tevez to equalize. A week earlier, in the season opener, he conceded a penalty after West Bromwich Albion’s Shane Long caught him with the ball in the penalty area.
Errors by the usually reliable keeper Pepe Reina have also cost Liverpool goals.
The Spaniard was at fault for Manchester City’s first at Anfield, flapping at a cross before Yaya Toure pounced to score. He also let a near-post shot from Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla slip under his body and into the net in a 2-0 home defeat to the Gunners.
Liverpool have yet to keep a clean sheet this season, and given their poor scoring record, tightening the defense is a priority.
Liverpool can’t control their luck with injuries, but the squad already looked thin before the season started, following the departure of a number of senior players such as Craig Bellamy, Dirk Kuyt, Charlie Adam and Maxi Rodriguez.
Now a series of injuries threatens to expose that lack of depth.
Fabio Borini, Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly all picked up injuries in the home defeat to Manchester United—they join midfielder Lucas Leiva on the sidelines.
After two red cards in five games, Liverpool need to ensure they finish games with 11 men on the pitch.
Daniel Agger’s red card against West Brom accelerated the team’s collapse in the opening day fixture against the Baggies.
Jonjo Shelvey’s dismissal for a lunge at Manchester United’s Jonny Evans turned the course of the game. Liverpool had dominated the match before the red card and, though they went on to score after Shelvey had left the pitch, they were unable to hold off a United revival.
The Liverpool midfielder, who had excelled in the Europa League against Swiss side Young Boys, will now miss the club’s next three games, exacerbating the injury crisis.
To say some of Kenny Dalglish’s marquee signings have failed to deliver since arriving at Anfield would be an epic understatement.
While Brendan Rodgers has moved some of those players on to other clubs, those remaining at Liverpool—Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing—have to produce better performances.
Downing has yet to score for the Reds in the Premier League and has no assists to his name since arriving at the start of last season, and, if anything, his form seems to be deteriorating further still.
Henderson has struggled to hold down a place in the Liverpool team, despite regularly captaining England's under-21 team, and Enrique's form has dipped alarmingly in the past six months.