Liverpool were held to a disappointing home draw with Hull City at Anfield, which leaves their title ambitions in tatters.
Brendan Rodgers’ side, who finished second in the Premier League last season, have been a shadow of the team that were superb throughout most of the last campaign. The loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, and the poor form of his replacement, Mario Balotelli, has been a real concern to Liverpool supporters. Unfortunately, the finishing issues that have blighted the forward showed no sign of abating against Steve Bruce’s resolute side.
Balotelli, who was purchased for just under $30 million from AC Milan in the summer, had Liverpool’s best-chance to win the game, but his injury time effort was saved by Eldin Jakupovic. Hull’s Ahmed Elmohamady also cleared a Dejan Lovren header off the line, and even though Liverpool were by far the better side Rodgers will be mightily concerned with the lack of cutting edge they possessed in the final third.
Liverpool produced 17 shots in the 90 minutes, but their failure to force the victory means that they have now only won five of their last 12 league games. Despite this barren run of form, Rodgers told BBC News after the game that he was still happy with his players’ effort.
“Performance wise we were excellent, particularly in the second half where we were outstanding. After a tough game in midweek it was a great effort from the players and we deserved to win the game. I thought it was just a matter of time until we scored, we created some opportunities and had 19 shots at goal. I can’t ask for any more from the players, they’ve given everything.”
According to the Daily Mail, Rodgers also praised Balotelli’s effort and work-rate in the game. This came after he had to reprimand the Italian for exchanging shirts with Real Madrid’s Pepe at half-time in their mid-week fixture. At the time, Liverpool were already 3-0 down to the Spanish giants.
Rodgers saw plenty to be impressed with from Balotelli in the game, and he was happy with his performance following the incident.
“I thought he worked very well, very hard. He maybe thought he wasn’t going to play today but you have got to stay with it. He is working hard and he is doing his best. Unfortunately it is that wee bit of confidence sometimes, when you don’t get the goal. He kept going, kept getting into the areas. Sometimes with players if it’s not going so well they have a day where they don’t train or don’t work, but he puts himself out to train every single day. He is out there wanting to be better, wanting to improve.”
[Image via Liverpool Echo]