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Mario Balotelli looks the perfect fit for Liverpool

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He may have left his shooting boots back at the hotel, but Mario Balotelli looked right at home at Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.

His contribution in the 3-0 victory over Tottenham was not a match-winning one, but he flashed enough of the things that make Mario great to suggest he might be the right man to replace Luis Suarez.

There was the sublime, a couple of fine first touch passes and silky movement throughout, and the ridiculous, a woefully off target effort from 30 yards with the net unguarded.

With Mario you always get both, but he looks a fine fit alongside Raheem Sterling - who was fantastic throughout - and Daniel Sturridge.

That trio is strong enough to compete with any Premier League defence, and the strength in depth off the bench looked equally impressive for the Reds. Lazar Markovic is a gifted invidivual, Emre Can is strong and imposing in the middle and still Rodgers had the luxury of allowing Coutinho 90 minutes rest.

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Moreno on song

Alberto Moreno, if not quite making up for his awful error against Manchester City, at least showed exactly why Liverpool fought so long to sign him.

His attacking goal was a thing of beauty. After robbing Andros Townsend, he sprinted off into the distance, powering forward for 50 yards before arrowing the ball into the far corner past Lloris. The comparisons with Barcelona's Jordi Alba look very fair on this evidence.

Central worries

Perhaps the only negative would be the shaky central defence. Dejan Lovren, pushed into the right centre back role to accommodate Mamadou Sakho, looked ropey and should have conceded a penalty in the final minute for a none-to-subtle shirt pull on Emmanuel Adebayor.

On more than one occasion a lack of understanding with his French teammate led to Lovren scampering back for a last-ditch tackle.

Sakho needs to be the casualty here when Skrtel returns, that much is obvious. Lovren is strong, composed and a skilful distributer when on the left, and the Croatian international is building a relationship with his Slovakian teammate. The same with Sakho looks some way off.

Liverpool transfer news

SAS

Thankfully for Liverpool, England’s nightmare World Cup seems to have had little long-term impact on Sturridge and Sterling, who combined superbly for the first goal.

Sterling was a menace throughout, and deserved a second. He nearly got it, a magnificent solo run through a lethargic Spurs defence ended with a tired toe-poke that was easily saved. The run was Leo Messi like, the finish was not.

So what can Mario bring to this duo. Well, power for one thing. While Liverpool were overcome by Manchester City previously, they now boast a striker capable of scrapping with the likes of Kompany, holding it up and bringing others into play. With Sturridge, Sterling and Henderson bursting forward beyond, he will be a crucial component of this counter-attacking behemoth. 

Assists

Because Balotelli possesses real quality as well, and his vision to pick out a pass is an underrated aspect of his game. That’s why he suits Liverpool’s system so well.

Rickie Lambert was brought in because the ex-Saints man was revered just as much for his assists on the South coast as his goals. Balotelli is equally as clever with his movement and passing, only he boasts the powerful pace that Lambert lacks.

It’s just one game, but the signs look very good for Brendan Rodgers and co.

One word of caution though - Liverpool won this game 5-0 last season.

Not quite matching those same standards yet…

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Topics:
Football
Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League
Mario Balotelli

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