Liverpool FC: 5 Ways the Reds Can Improve from the 1-0 Loss at Stoke City
After an outrageously disappointing 1-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium, Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish will be looking for immediate improvements. This team is one with high aspirations, and failing to beat a middling team is not the way they are going to reach their goals.
Liverpool travel to London next Saturday to take on Tottenham in a game that would be a great one to win. The Reds lie on seven points, five behind league leaders Manchester United and Manchester City, and every point matters. Liverpool need to take three points at White Hart Lane.
This is how they can.
5. Use Craig Bellamy More
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Craig Bellamy was signed to become a backup forward, but he was impressive against Stoke. He wasn't able to turn the fortunes around, but he certainly did make a significant difference for the Reds. Simply put, he made them look a lot better.
Unfortunately by the time he came on, it was too late. He only got 23 minutes of playing time, but he couldn't make the most of it. That said, he was easily better than Andy Carroll, and the Reds should give him more playing time next game. It could be the difference between winning and losing.
4. Give the Ball to Stewart Downing
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Most, if not all, Liverpool fans thought the club were greatly overpaying for Stewart Downing. I was one of them. Twenty million pounds is too much to pay for a player who has yet to even reach the elite class of Premier League left wingers.
Those fans have eaten their words.
Downing has been one of the club's top players through four games and has looked dangerous every time he has touched the ball. He looked strong alongside Luis Suarez against Stoke, and if those two can develop some chemistry Liverpool will be unstoppable.
Charlie Adam and Lucas should distribute the ball to Downing more and allow him to work some of his magic down the flank.
3. Hand Jamie Carragher's Spot to Sebastian Coates
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As much as you hate to say it, Jamie Carragher is past his best.
The Anfield legend has often lagged behind the play, and no longer has the pace to keep up with Liverpool's more able defenders. Ivan Klasnic's goal in the Bolton game was largely due to Carragher not getting back quickly enough. Jon Walters is not a particularly fast player, but he outran Carragher to the ball to win a penalty for Stoke's winner. Two out of three of the club's goals against can be pinned largely on Carragher's shoulders.
Coates will bring some youthful energy and arguably more importantly size to the Anfield back four. He is unbeatable in the air but surprisingly solid on the ground for a 6'6" man.
Liverpool need to at least give him a chance. He is a top young talent and there is no reason to assume he won't make a difference right away.
2. Get Steven Gerrard in the Team
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Steven Gerrard was unavailable for selection against Stoke due to his injury, but he will be against Tottenham. It's evident after the defeat to Stoke that the Reds need leadership in the team, and that is what Gerrard will bring to them.
At 31, Gerrard is past his best, but he is the heart and soul of this team and always will be. Liverpool simply look out of sync without him. He'll come in and settle in behind Suarez in a two-man attack. Liverpool's best player will only be better. Gerrard is pivotal in the heart of the Anfield lineup.
1. Switch to a 4-2-3-1
When executed correctly, the 4-2-3-1 is the best formation. It is well-rounded, offensive but defensive, versatile and rarely fails to work.
This team is built for the 4-2-3-1. The evidence is there that the 4-4-2 is not the right formation for Liverpool, and a change is needed.
With the strong wingers, technically gifted forwards and hard-working midfielders, this formation is tailor made for the Reds. It's just a matter of getting it worked on in practice and getting the players used to it.
It could be the difference between winning and losing against Tottenham.