Many players have come and gone at Anfield since Rafael Benitez took charge in 2004, but the same questions are still being asked and the same doubts are still being raised.
Liverpool’s early-season form suggests that there is still a distinct lack of enough attacking magicians in their side to win the Premier League, having already been frustrated by both Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa this season.
The likes of Albert Riera, Dirk Kuyt, and Yossi Benayoun can clearly do good jobs in midfield, but it is Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres who remain the only two players who seem capable of creating something out of nothing, of producing something special to turn the key when Liverpool are struggling to break the door down.
Xabi Alonso’s departure has made things even more difficult in these opening weeks, but the one man who could prove pivotal is Alberto Aquilani, an attacking midfielder signed from Roma for around 20 million Euros in the summer.
The Italian international is currently injured, but once he returns, the spotlight will fall on him to see whether he can provide the missing spark at Anfield.
Previous followers of Aquilani's career say he is a different type of midfielder to Alonso, more attack-minded and capable of scoring goals than his Spanish predecessor, which augurs well for Reds fans.
Liverpool’s problem remains breaking teams down when they get behind the ball, although often when they go ahead they can often go on to score more as a result of the extra space they are allowed, making the addition of Aquilani vital.
Though Lucas currently occupies the second central midfield position alongside Mascherano, his performances thus far this season clearly suggest he has yet to improve on last season.
His passing range still appears limited, especially compared to Alonso's, and is not at all capable of producing the ‘killer ball’ to the forwards that Alonso could. Lucas simply does not add sufficient attacking threat to Liverpool’s artillery.
With Torres as the lone frontman, the onus is on other midfielders to chip in and help crank up the goals tally. Wingers Albert Riera and Ryan Babel should be looking to score more than in previous years, while Yossi Benayoun will be expected to add more consistency to his game if he is to become a key player at Anfield.
They must add goals, as star men Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres should not be relied on so much.
Another summer recruit, right back Glen Johnson, has given Liverpool another attacking dimension this season, but he alone will not solve Liverpool’s continuing problem in the final third. That’s why all eyes will be on Aquilani when he returns next month.
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