Forget Balotelli, this Liverpool forward is now in far worse form

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Brendan Rodgers was just happy his side created chances in their 3-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday, but surely the amount they missed will concern the Northern Irishman privately as pressure on his employment status mounts.

Deciding to leave Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert on the bench for the Old Trafford trip, Rodgers picked Raheem Sterling in the hope the diminutive forward could stretch the Red Devils in behind their defensive line.

The reasoning was sound enough and Sterling certainly proved his manager right with his runs in behind Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans, but his inability to finish the chances his dashes created cost Liverpool dearly.

Three times the England international was one-of-one with the otherworldly David de Gea and on all three occasions the recently-turned 20-year-old should have done better, especially the second of the trio immediately after half time when failing to round the Spaniard.

Sterling is now 17 games deep into a scoreless Liverpool run that stretches back to mid-September, with 11 of those matches coming in the top flight.

That’s a worse trot than the one Mario Balotelli is currently experiencing and attracting so much attention for, yet no-one seems to mind about Sterling’s struggles.

Least of all those concerned is Rodgers, who valued his forward’s form highly enough to rest him against Aston Villa four games into the season, but has since afforded Sterling a rest just twice more this season, neither of which have come in the league.

Arguably Liverpool’s dire top-four situation, which sees them sit seven points off the pace as 11/2 shots with Ladbrokes, means Rodgers can’t afford to put such a lively player as Sterling on the pine.

But with confidence sure to be draining from the youngster with every scoreless match, it could well be time to remove him from the situation, like Simon Mignolet.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.