And so, another goal-shy, flattering to deceive 90 minutes for Liverpool against Newcastle at the weekend. And when Brendan Rodgers more than once mentioned “improving the group” in his post-match interview, most could surely read between the lines.
He wasn’t referring to new training techniques or state-of-the-art instructional videos. No, it can safely be surmised he was casting ahead to the January transfer window and the prospect of the new strikers his team sorely needs.
Yes, Luis Suarez is in inspirational form. However he’s one yellow card away from a ban and only ever one mistimed tackle away from a potentially serious injury, not to mention one ill-timed gesture away from serious censure. So, let’s examine three front men who could fill the Anfield striking void.
A name wholly unknown in the British game prior to this season: the ex-Real Vallecano man has lit up Swansea City’s solid start to the EPL season. His goals against QPR on the opening day provided an immediate indication as to what he was capable of and he’s continued to make a significant impression ever since.
Bought for a bargain 2 million pounds, he’s attracted the loose label of “attacking midfielder.” There is, however, so much more to his game than that. He’s already operated with great aplomb in what’s become known as “the hole” behind a lone striker (Danny Graham), and it’s here he could extract even more from the current purple patch of Suarez.
Diverting defenders, providing the runs to populate the box at vital times and also the goal-scoring are all potent artillery he can bring to the table. In addition, he possesses the artillery to be the lone front man himself if necessary.
Schooled into the EPL via the Michael Laudrup way, he’d also be a made-to measure component for the Brendan Rodgers “philosophy.” However, the rise of his star within the EPL firmament would undoubtedly now make any potential starting price tag upwards of 10 million pounds.
2. Demba Ba
Anyone watching Liverpool’s 1-all draw with Newcastle at Anfield would probably concede the Reds’ overall stranglehold on the game increased when Ba’s ankle injury saw him forced off.
The Senegalese front man’s been a revelation since arriving from West Ham, his 20-plus goals telling only part of the story. He’s a rangy, mobile front man who spots and executes a chance with the minimum of ceremony and in a variety of situations.
He’s far from being a typical ‘lamp post’ variety of front man and also possesses considerable other strings to his bow. As with Didier Drogba for Chelsea, he can also be one of Newcastle’s best defenders at corners and set pieces, knowing who he’s marking and clearing danger in effective and uncompromising style.
The question of his on-going fitness is often raised, but after an injury-free season last year, any peripheral risk for Rodgers could easily be submerged by handsome all-round dividends.
3. Radamel Falcao
The Colombian-born striker has made a blistering impact for Atletico Madrid in Spain’s La Liga. It follows his explosive 17 goals in 14 games tally for Porto in the Europa League. Equally comfortable on both feet, Falcao is also an imposing threat in the air despite standing ‘only’ 5 feet 10 inches tall.
After 33 goals last season, he’s already hit the groove during the current campaign with 10 La Liga goals in 9 starts, just one adrift of Christiano Ronaldo and 3 behind Lionel Messi.
An approach to Atletico for the 26-year-old would be ambitious and undoubtedly expensive, but if the Fenway group are as ambitious and far-sighted as they claim, it would be an exciting and highly progressive one.