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Liverpool aren't playing a style that fits the players

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It's no secret that Liverpool are short on goals this season. With three goals in five games, it is a far cry from the 100+ tally of the 2013/14 season.

By this time last season, Liverpool had scored seven goals with wins over Southampton and Tottenham as well as scoring in losses against West Ham and Manchester City.

But why?

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In terms of attack, Liverpool have not exactly lost top goalscorers.

Mario Balotelli scored two and although Raheem Sterling was an influential creative player with seven goals and as many assists, he was hardly irreplaceable- unlike Luis Suarez.

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Naturally, the loss of Daniel Sturridge to injury has set Liverpool back as it was his early contributions last season that helped to scrape wins. Nonetheless, the arrival of Christian Benteke should have provided goals, as should have signings like Danny Ings, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi (even though he was bought last season).

Benteke has scored 44 goals in 94 Premier League appearances, and his stunning bicycle kick goal against Manchester United proved his quality. 

So why can't this Liverpool team provide him with the chances he needs? 

It's simple: Liverpool FC don't cross the ball. 

It may seem outdated to suggest that Benteke can only head a ball, which is obviously a false representation of his playing style. But the Belgian wins 59.2% of aerial duels (33 out of 55 in Premier League), why are Liverpool not testing this ability?

So far this season, Liverpool have averaged 15 crosses per game - just 3% of all passes made. To put this into perspective, 86% of Liverpool's passes are short. Plus, this does not take into account how many of Liverpool's crosses are played along the floor.

I could not find reliable statistics for this, but if we are conservative and say just 25% of Liverpool's crosses are along the floor, that means 11 crosses come into the box.

When you take into account the average pass success rate of Liverpool's two first choice wingers, Ibe and Firmino, (79%) that's 8.25 successful crosses a game.

8.25 crosses a game and a percentage of aerial duel wins standing at 59% means that 4.8 crosses a game will be won by Benteke. Liverpool are only providing their 6ft 4, powerful striker with 4.8 heading opportunities a game. 

Even when the, albeit somewhat confusing, crossing stats are broken down Liverpool are also failing to take into account the role of Danny Ings.

Danny Ings flourished at Burnley as a 'second' striker. The small, quick player who fed off of the 6ft tall Barnes. Ings would take advantage of the tight marking of Barnes and the space this freed up. However, the only way that Ings has been utilised is on the left wing. This is drastically out of position.

Rodgers would not have played Ings there had he not believed he could do the job, and I'm sure Ings would have said himself if he not been confident enough. Still, though, Ings is young and not that experienced in the Premier League so to put him out of position against a top four club was asking far too much from him. 

Looking back at Benteke's stats and how Ings has been utilised, it is easy to see why Liverpool fans are not happy with the way Brendan Rodgers has been playing. Many want to see the return of the 4-4-2 diamond which would pair Ings with Benteke (until Sturridge's recovery).

Firmino would get a chance to play at an attacking midfielder at the tip of the diamond, with Coutinho, Henderson and either Milner or Lucas finishing off the diamond. This position would also create space in the wings for attacking full-backs Clyne and Moreno to push on (Gomez is a much more defensive player due to naturally being a CB). 

It's pretty clear that Liverpool are not playing in a way that suits their players, as three goals in five games whilst conceding six is not a sustainable system. 

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Topics:
Premier League
Liverpool
Christian Benteke
Football

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