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Lack of Depth Costs Liverpool 4 Points in 2 Matches

Tony LucadamoContributor IIIDecember 17, 2016

Lack of Depth Costs Liverpool 4 Points in 2 Matches

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    Two players in particular have been made scapegoats for Liverpool's poor return on their past three contests. 

    Against Arsenal, Pepe Reina took the blame. With a 2-1 lead, the Spaniard conceded to Theo Walcott from a poor angle. 

    Reina's woes intensified at Eastlands. With the Reds once again up 2-1, Reina inexplicably went far off his line in an attempt to stave off a Sergio Aguero run. Once again, Liverpool conceded an unnecessary two points. 

    Yesterday, it was Daniel Agger's turn to take the fall. With the game even at 0-0, Agger failed to properly defend a corner. He then gave Romelu Lukaku the deciding goal with little resistance. 

    Yet, in at least the past two cases, perhaps the blame is overplayed. To that end, the team's lack of depth played a major part in failures against both West Brom and Manchester City.

    Here's how.  

Liverpool vs. Man City

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    It is arguable whether Reina's goalkeeping error was the cause or effect of Liverpool's disappointing draw. 

    In actuality, the tide of the game turned far before that. With Jose Enrique returning from injury, he was unable to make it the full 90 minutes. 

    Thus, Brendan Rodgers was forced to make a defensive alteration at a point when the Reds controlled the game. 

    His options were sparse. First, he could have brought in an inexperienced fullback as a direct replacement. Second, he could move Daniel Agger over to left-back and bring on a new center-back. 

    Rodgers went with the latter. 

    Almost immediately, momentum shifted. City pressed Liverpool down the right flank. It should come as no surprise then that Aguero scored from that end of the pitch. 

Liverpool vs. West Brom

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    This time the game stood 0-0 at Anfield. That said, the home team held the lion's share of momentum. 

    At one point, Liverpool had 18 shots to West Brom's zero. For long stretches, it seemed not a matter of if, but when they would get their breakthrough. 

    Cue Daniel Agger and his two defensive errors. Others might point the finger at Steven Gerrard and his missed penalty. 

    However, the disappointing outcome of the last 10 minutes need not have ever happened. 

    The fact is that without Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool's reserve attacking options remain sparse at best. 

    Fabio Borini lacks any semblance of confidence. 

    Raheem Sterling is still inexperienced. 

    Philippe Coutinho had never played in England up until that point. He is also out of form from lack of play in Milan. 

    Yet these three were the best options.

    Off came Jordan Henderson, who was having a strong game in midfield and nearly scored off a heel click.

    Off came Stewart Downing, whose replacement is confounding. He was arguably the most impressive player in the final third up until that point.

    Finally, off came Jonjo Shelvey. His replacement was the most justified. Yet it is still debatable whether or not his placeholder added anything to the lineup.  

Conclusion

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    Oftentimes, football is won and lost far before the deciding goal or telling error. 

    This was the case on the past two occasions for Liverpool. 

    In many ways, Brendan Rodgers dug his own grave. 

    Borini and Allen have had an ambiguous effect on outcomes. 

    That said, the financial support Rodgers has received does not match up to the club's Champions League aspirations. 

    The Northern Irish manager appears on a path toward destruction. He is set to take the fall for ownership too inclined to frugality. 

    Certainly, the Reds are heading in the right direction. Yet there is a ceiling on how far they can climb. Until more serious outlays come along to add depth, the top six is about as high they can go. 

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