Analysis – Liverpool’s striking seven

Brendan Rodgers has focused most of his efforts in the transfer market this year towards adding depths of quality to his attack, appearing determined to avoid the prospect of fielding a starting XI without a recognised striker, as he was forced to do on several occasions last season where the club managed just 52 Premier League goals. He now has a sizeable pool of options to choose from, with seven vying for a place furthest up the pitch:

There remains considerable doubt over the future of Mario Balotelli, who has done little to repay the faith that Rodgers showed in him a year ago, scoring only one league goal and facing tough questions over his attitude and application throughout a thoroughly miserable first season at Anfield. He has missed all of pre-season so far, but one feels that he will not figure a great deal should he stay.

Attacking midfielders Roberto Firmino and James Milner have been high-profile summer signings, but none of the new arrivals have cost as much as Christian Benteke, of whom a lot will be expected after his £32.5m move. He has proven on countless occasions for Aston Villa that he is a formidable opponent; deadly when on peak form and fitness. He has the potential to add an extra dimension to the team’s forward play, but Rodgers must find the right system to get the best out of him.

Fabio Borini has made no secret of his desire to leave, and is perhaps regretting his decision not to move on last summer. He is the kind of player who has proved effective for a club in the bottom half of the table, but his performances for the Reds suggest that he lacks the quality to establish himself. With added competition, it is hard to see him featuring prominently in the unlikely event that he does not leave by the end of the transfer window.

The Europa League and the domestic cup competitions look the most likely first-team opportunities for Danny Ings, recently signed from Burnley. He clearly possesses more than just a goalscoring presence, laying on several goals and standing out for the Turf Moor outfit last term, netting 10 times despite failing to prevent relegation. At 22, he will only progress at Liverpool, and Rodgers will give him more than enough chances to impress.

Although he constantly impressed for Southampton and was part of England’s 2014 World Cup squad, Rickie Lambert seemed a strange signing when he was brought in over a year ago. At times he has looked a little overawed to be playing for the club he supports, and the 33-year-old will do well to return to the first-team fold. A move to Aston Villa was possible back in January, indicating that his stay might not last much longer.

It is easy to forget about Divock Origi. The young Belgian was signed after his promising showings at the 2014 World Cup, but loaned back to French club Lille upon the completion of the deal. He found the going tough in Ligue 1 last time around, but has exciting potential and is not afraid to engage in a physical battle with defenders. Gaining regular football will be difficult initially, but he is surely capable of big things in the future.

Last but not least is the man that the Merseyside missed dreadfully for the majority of 2014-15. They will be praying that Daniel Sturridge stays fit and returns to his very best scoring form. It will be interesting how he will be accommodated alongside the likes of Benteke and Firmino, but he is of vital importance to how Liverpool fare in the season ahead, due to his status as one of the best finishers in English football.

There is still plenty of time left in the transfer window for ins and outs, Rodgers has ensured that he will not leave himself short of choice in attacking areas, where quality was at times very thin on the ground last season. But it will be intriguing to see how he goes about finding the correct balance, with the battle to be picked in the side set to be one of great ferocity.

 

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