Belfast Telegraph

Rodgers worried by lack of goals

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits dwindling numbers of chances created and goals scored is a concern as the club stumble towards the end of the season.

A return of four from the last five league matches, half of which were scored against a Newcastle side in free fall, has brought a meagre tally of four points to derail their Champions League hopes.

Their other two goals came in defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal, but being shut out by West Brom and Hull in the last week has only highlighted a problem which has not been far from the surface all season because of injuries to Daniel Sturridge, whom Rodgers confirmed will now see an orthopaedic surgeon in the United States in an attempt to solve "underlying issues".

"It is a concern (creating chances) because that is the game," said Rodgers.

"You always worry about working and performing well, and key to creating chances is being able to score.

"It is about efficiency and if you are not going to create as many opportunities then you have to be clinical.

"The game the other night (a 1-0 defeat at Hull), we had 20 attempts on goal and nine shots on target.

"For an away team playing against a low defensive block, to have nine shots on target it is quite a high number and you'd at least expect to score a goal.

"We didn't have that and how we create the chances, how we arrive into those areas and the scoring of those opportunities (is something) we need to analyse."

Much of the criticism for the lack of goals has fallen at the feet of Mario Balotelli, who will miss Saturday's visit of struggling QPR with a foot injury sustained at Hull.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva returns from a thigh injury to rejoin the squad after missing the last three matches.

Defender Jon Flanagan is sidelined for at least six months after undergoing another knee operation. Centre-back Mamadou Sakho is still missing with a hamstring problem while fellow defender Alberto Moreno and midfielder Steven Gerrard are expected to return after both missed Tuesday's game.

QPR manager Chris Ramsey has revealed how his senior players have been rallying the troops.

Rangers' prospects of survival look bleak after a goalless draw against West Ham last weekend left them four points adrift of safety with four matches remaining.

But Ramsey insists morale in his squad remains high and says the likes of Joey Barton, Clint Hill and Richard Dunne have been injecting belief into the players that QPR can still beat the drop.

"They are good characters and have a lot of years behind them so it's just maybe a little chat here and there to the group just to make sure everybody realises there is a task ahead that we are capable of overcoming," Ramsey said.

"I think they are all quite self-motivated at the moment because everybody wants to stay in the division.

"It's the pinnacle of football worldwide. Everybody wants to stay in the division and compete with QPR next season.

"Most of the time we have performed really well so you have to see if the players realise that.

"They have to have that sense of belief. It is not a task they can't overcome.

"You can only pep talk them so many times. There has to be some intrinsic motivation to play in the best league in the world."

QPR will make a late decision on whether to risk Bobby Zamora but Leroy Fer is expected to return to the Rangers starting line-up.

Zamora is hoping to rid himself of a long-standing hip problem for the trip to Anfield while Fer, who came off the bench against West Ham last weekend, is fit again after recovering from a knee injury.

Rio Ferdinand is unlikely to feature despite returning to training this week while Eduardo Vargas and Alejandro Faurlin (both knee) remain sidelined.


From Belfast Telegraph