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Liverpool could be hurt by loss of duo

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During the festive period, Liverpool face by far their toughest run of games of the season so far. An away game to Tottenham Hotspur on the December 15 is followed by trips to Manchester City on Boxing Day and Chelsea two days later.

Daniel Sturridge will be very much missed for the Reds. Joining from Chelsea in January, he's scored 22 goals during his time at Anfield. He's been a key figure in Liverpool's success, scoring some vital goals such as his last-minute equaliser against Everton.

It looks set that Raheem Sterling will again replace Sturridge. Although a good prospect, the 19-year-old has a lot to live up to. He's expected to fill the boots of arguably Liverpool's best player in 2013.

Sterling's performance against Hull was extremely poor. This, I believe, was due to his lack of confidence. Summer signings like Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto were being picked ahead of him. It must have been both frustrating and confidence draining on the youngster and making him question what he had done wrong.

When Sterling first emerged into the Liverpool side, he was being picked regularly and playing good football. Now, it seems that his head has been left in a mess due to the new signings and lack of playing time.

To ask a 19-year-old to fill the boots of Liverpool's second top goalscorer is already a bit much, but to do it in such a hard string of games is even worse.

As difficult as they were in the first place, it was already known they would be missing striker Sturridge, who is out for a number of weeks with an ankle injury.

Then last Saturday during the Reds' 4-1 victory over West Ham, they saw captain Steven Gerrard limp off holding his hamstring. Although it looked like the substitution was precautionary, it has since come to light the Liverpool captain will miss up to six weeks of football.

Gerrard has been an inspiration for Liverpool fans throughout his time at Anfield. Although he is in his twilight of his career, the captain still offers a lot on the pitch.

More importantly, he has experience that the new Liverpool youth thrive off. Gerrard has taken players like Lucas and Jordan Henderson - who didn't start off well - and turned them into much more confident players.

The Reds captain is the soul survivor of Liverpool's Champions League winning side. When Liverpool were qualifying for the Champions League every season, the England captain was as inspirational then as he was now.

Back then, he was everything you look for in a midfielder - he scored goals, threw in last-ditch challenges and hit some beautiful balls that split defences. Now 34, Gerrard can no longer get up and down like he used to.

However, he still offers more than enough to the Liverpool side. His experience on the ball is going nowhere. His presence boosts the confidence of many of Liverpool's youngsters.

Henderson joined Liverpool in 2011, but really failed to adapt. However, this could very much be due to his confidence as a footballer. He missed out on just one league game that season but was slated by fans as being a very poor buy by then manager Kenny Dalglish.

But, the presence of Steven Gerrard was not there half the time. In a season were he was ravaged by injury, Liverpool's number eight played just 18 times.

Since last season and especially this season, Henderson seems a lot more confident. When Dalglish threw the former England U21 captain into the deep end and tried to make him play the Gerrard role, his potential was not up to this. He looked well out of his depth.

It frustrated Reds fans as Henderson shone for both Sunderland and England's U21s. Although I do sympathise with them, you have to realise the pressures that Henderson had on his shoulders - a £20 million move to one of the biggest clubs in the league really is enough to live up to, without being expected to play the role of arguably the club's greatest player.

Since Gerrard's return to the side, Henderson has looked much his former self. Playing in a midfield three, the former Sunderland man is able to get forward more to create chances and score goals.

Knowing the protection of Gerrard is behind him, it is a lot more of a boost knowing it is him and not Charlie Adam who played behind him in his first season at Anfield.

Lucas too has improved in this last two seasons. With Gerrard sitting deeper and three up top, the Brazilian looks a lot more relaxed. Having such an inspirational figure like Gerrard playing alongside you takes a lot of pressure from Lucas if he does make a mistake.

Furthermore, Liverpool's chops and changes at the back can't help Lucas. Liverpool are yet to form a formidable partnership in the centre of defence. Martin Skrtel has been class all season, but manager Brendan Rodgers seems as if he cannot decide between Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho.

With Gerrard's absence, I think it would be stupid not to play Agger. He is an Anfield veteran and vice captain.

Whereas Liverpool have coped without their captain in the past, that is because they have had another veteran at hand - Jamie Carragher. He was as much the heartbeat of the Liverpool side as Gerrard. Carragher would step up when his captain was not there and be as inspirational as Gerrard could be. Now retired, Liverpool cannot even rely on this.

Youngster Jon Flanagan has enjoyed his recent run in the side. The Liverpool-born full-back played a blinder against rivals Everton. However, it was through the encouragement of Gerrard that helped him believe in himself to do so. With no Gerrard or Carragher, the pressure may get to the youngster.

Even the presence of Pepe Reina's vocals is not there now. Simon Mignolet is a super addition to the side and a better goalkeeper than Reina. Nevertheless, Reina was a veteran at Anfield and his vocals could be heard from all areas of the stadium.

Luis Suarez was handed the captain's armband against Tottenham Hotspur. As world class as Suarez is, he is no leader. His actions in the past highlight that although he is as talented as any footballer, he cannot be trusted.

While Liverpool won at Tottenham, I just feel that their mental attitude of not having Gerrard and Sturridge on the pitch could be the thing that drops them out of the top-four picture.

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Topics:
Daniel Sturridge
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool
Premier League
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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