Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool rue lack of killer touch during four-game winless run

Liverpool's four-match winless run has highlighted concerns at both ends of the pitch.

But while Jurgen Klopp is "sick" of his side's defending, a failure to take their own chances is equally to blame.

Liverpool have taken 87 shots across the 5-0 defeat to Manchester City, draws with Sevilla in the Champions League and Burnley in the Premier League and Tuesday night's Carabao Cup loss to Leicester. Just a quarter of those, 22, have been on target, with only three goals to show for their efforts.

Here, Press Association Sport analyses some of the key players and factors involved in Liverpool's dismal run in front of goal.

SADIO MANE

Liverpool endured a miserable spell last January with their influential Senegal forward away at the African Nations Cup, winning just once - against League Two Plymouth - in seven matches.

They have again struggled in his absence since his red card against Manchester City, though he did play 83 minutes against Sevilla before beginning his domestic suspension.

Mane has scored three Premier League goals this season from 10 shots, and his recent absence is a significant factor in Liverpool's struggles in front of goal.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO

As Mane disappeared from the line-up temporarily, Coutinho re-emerged following his protracted summer transfer saga. Liverpool's numbers since then have shown the good and the bad of the Brazil playmaker's game.

His creative influence has been apparent, helping Liverpool pile up 35 shots against Burnley and another 21 against Leicester.

His own share of those shots, though, demonstrates his penchant for low-percentage efforts from long range. Of 11 Coutinho strikes, mostly from outside the penalty area, only two have been on target - in keeping with a career record in the Premier League that sees only 31 per cent of his shots hitting the target and 7.5 per cent finding the net.

THE 'FALSE NINE'

Klopp typically sets his team up without a traditional out-and-out frontman, with Roberto Firmino wearing the number nine shirt this season but operating in the continental-style "false nine" position.

Firmino has at least scored during the four games in question, in the Champions League clash with Sevilla, though he also missed a penalty in that match and has hit the target with just two of his seven shots.

Liverpool's one established senior spearhead, Daniel Sturridge, has again been in and out of the team this season and his only appearance in the recent games was against Burnley, where three of his seven shots were on target.

Youngster Dominic Solanke, meanwhile, featured against Burnley and started against Leicester but has failed to hit the target in eight attempts.

'WHY IS HE SHOOTING?'

Even allowing for the lack of a main striker, Liverpool's shot distribution looks odd - holding midfielder Emre Can is a longside Coutinho on a team-high 11 attempts in the last four games.

Can's bicycle kick against Watford last season was the Premier League's goal of the season but he has only 10 for the club having begun his fourth season at Anfield and has worked the goalkeeper with only three of his 11 shots going back to the City match.

Mohamed Salah has 10 - with six on target and two goals - but e ight of the 87 shots have been shared between full-backs Alberto Moreno, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold with a further three from James Milner, another deep-lying midfielder who played much of last season at left-back.

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