After signing high-upside striker Daniel Sturridge and watching him score a decisive goal in his first game against Mansfield Town, things in Liverpool are currently rosier than the team's home kit.
Shrugging off the loss (or failure to gain) would seem rather simple for the Reds. They already got their high-profile coup of the month, so shrugging this off as a mere case of "being unable to win them all" is understandable.
But those defense mechanisms can only get Liverpool and their loyal following so far. Having Astori poached out of their grasps could prove to be very costly.
The Reds currently sit eighth in the Premiership table, but there's plenty of room for movement out ahead of them. Their 31 points are just eight less than third-place Tottenham, seven less than fourth-place Chelsea, five less than fifth-place Everton and three less than sixth-place Arsenal.
But, they haven't been able to compete at the same level as the country's true elite—something they should surely have the resources to do.
Not including West Brom—whose success I believe to be a fleeting aberration—only two teams ahead of Liverpool have conceded more goals: Tottenham and Manchester United. But those two clubs have offenses strong enough that they're able to subsist, if not thrive, in the face of their defensive maladies. Tottenham has 39 goals on the season while United has 54.
Liverpool has just 34.
Some would argue that, in the wake of signing Sturridge, Liverpool will soon have an offense capable of compensating for conceding so many goals. But Sturridge may not be such a cut-and-dried solution for them up top.
Former Liverpool star Kevin Keegan raised the following harsh but fair points on ESPN.com:
"[Sturridge is] not the centre-forward figure that Liverpool need. He's like Theo Walcott in that he wants to play up top, but I think he's not really suited to that as he's too lightweight and can't hold it up. What Suarez needs is someone in front of him to play off and Sturridge is just too similar.
Whether you agree that Sturridge will succeed or not—I tend to think he will—you can't reasonably expect him to do so right off the bat. First-game goal be damned; him and Suarez have a lot of work ahead of them in terms of learning to play with one another. They may do so in time, but they won't be an all-world paring in early 2013.
What I'm getting at, in an admittedly long-winded way, is that Liverpool can't compete this year unless they remedy their defensive failings. There's no way for them to finish in the top four, which was ostensibly a goal for the campaign, unless they do so.
Astori, entering his prime at the age of 25, would have been a monumental move in that direction. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel are counted on to do too much as it currently stands; at the very least, Astori could give them a more frequent blow.
But alas, the Reds look to have missed their opportunity to salvage their defense this season. Now only a miracle cohesion between Sturridge and Suarez would seem to be enough for them to make the Champions League.