Manchester City win the Premier League thanks to their strong backbone: centre-back Vincent Kompany, centre-midfielder Yaya Toure and centre-forward Sergio Aguero. If these players lose form or pick up an injury, City usually struggle. At Liverpool, they lack these type of players. Philippe Coutinho is the only Liverpool star that opponents fear. With a less than convincing centre-back pairing in Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren, opposition feel they can score goals. In midfield, Jordan Henderson and James Milner provide the team with energy but neither are match-winners. Finally in attack, Christian Benteke can intimidate defenders due to his strength and power but will not score anywhere near the number of goals that Aguero will. The other teams challenging for the top four all have stronger backbones and bigger personalities that count in crucial matches, compared to Liverpool.
Within the team, there is a lack of players that can stand up and be counted. When the tough gets going, Liverpool seem to struggle. With Henderson as captain, it shows the deprivation of leadership at the club. Against the lesser teams in the Premier League, they may get away with it due to their superior attacking threat but against the top four, leadership is crucially essential. Kompany, John Terry, Per Mertesacker (vice-captain) and Wayne Rooney all have enough experience and the players around them that can help the team to win matches when they have their backs against the walls. Even though Brendan Rodgers has previously emphasised the need for more leaders within the side, no real action was taken during the transfer window.
The Reds have become easily undone on numerous occasions in the past. As argued above, the centre-half position does not give the Liverpool fans much confidence. With the attacking strength in the Premier League improving, most defences find it difficult to hold out against the opposition. This was evident when West Ham played Liverpool last weekend and won 3-0 at Anfield. Every side has the ability to hurt another team. Last year, Liverpool conceded 48 goals in the league, which is far too many if they want to challenge for a Champions League spot. Although Rodgers managed to buy Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez, who have started well on Merseyside, he neglected the centre back situation. Liverpool could be in for another long season defensively, with their only options to partner Skrtel being the less than convincing Lovren and Mamadou Sakho and finally, the ageing Kolo Toure.
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