Liverpool's attack of the clones leads to their downfall at Old Trafford

Julian Finney

It's too early to tell whether Luis Suarez can repeat his excellent form of last year, but Liverpool struggled against Manchester United due to having too many similar forwards.

On the point of whether Luis Suarez had improved Liverpool, it is of course still too early to tell. The Uruguayan was decent in very brief patches against Manchester United last night, although most came through instinctive flicks to set others into motion. When inclined to shoot himself, he maintained the air of a threat but wasted his many opportunities against an opposition midfield that was leaving their defence badly exposed.

More from our team blogs: Liverpool blog The Liverpool Offside

Liverpool's direct running, through the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Victor Moses, were much the same. They drove into troublesome areas, took on defenders with confidence, and surged into the gaps in United's nonexistant midfield. And then... nothing. Suarez had been wasteful. Daniel Sturridge was lacking in both ideas and execution. Victor Moses was ponderous when deciding what to do. Raheem Sterling was Raheem Sterling.

That seems to be the problem likely to hold Liverpool back this season. Normally, teams who struggle to attract top talent that can afford to do so make do with a deep squad, relying on at least one of their number being able to produce the goods on the day. Previously, under Rafael Benitez, Fernando Torres' deputies were woefully inadequate at their task. Suarez's accomplices are of a far higher calibre, but the problem is something different: they are all inferior versions of the same player.

A tactical problem may be a welcome one for Liverpool after for so long harbouring more abstract, nebulous problems which are far harder to exorcise. The inexplicable home 0-0s, the complacency of facing mid-table opposition following impressive performances against big clubs, and the belief that Benitez was a miracle worker. All are difficult to cure, and so this new problem, while hardly welcome, is at least somewhat more manageable.

It's not the only problem the team have, of course. Their defence is in need of consideration, with a pricey gamble on Mamadou Sakho unlikely to provide any answers the club were looking for. In addition, Steven Gerrard's decline leaves them with one less player to call on to produce something special. But it's difficult to see any of the club's problems usurping their forward line as the major obstacle that could prevent them from achieving their goals this season.

As United stole their winning goal and made their mark on the game, Liverpool desperately needed an alternative to the failing Suarez and Sturridge, but only had Raheem Sterling and Iago Aspas available on the bench - more of the same. It's in stark contrast to the strikers available to their opponents - while Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney obviously add up to a greater combined talent, they are also highly varied players, all of whom can provide a suitable option for pretty much any scenario.

There's been suggestions that the club should prioritise the purchase of a midfielder in January, although opinion remains divided over whether a defensive or attacking type should be preferred. Instead, however, they might look at what they could do to give themselves more options. When the end of a season in which a team fall just short of their target arrives, it's usually the easily winnable games that are, rightly, most lamented, and situations like that in the 60th minute last night will do more than any other to hinder their chances of achieving a top four spot.

When Arsenal came in for Suarez in the summer, Liverpool rejected incredible bids to keep him, with the justification offered by some supporters that he offered something else nobody could. Now, as the season begins, they find that they have too many players doing exactly the same as him.

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