Another game, another away game without a goal. The reds have now failed to find the target in five of their last six away games, a worrying trend to say the least.

Liverpool created a handful of chances in France last night but the lack of movement and creative element in the final third was still there for all to see. Note a previous post from Red and White Blogger, highlighting this.

A tactic from Rafa Benitez last night seemed to be to target Fernando Torres with long balls over the top of the Lille defence, and certainly on a dodgy looking surface it might not have been the worst idea. Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger seemed especially briefed on this. It is a tactic that has worked in the past for Liverpool, most notably last season at Old Trafford when Martin Skrtel's long ball released Torres for Liverpool's equalising goal.

But Liverpool's long ball tactics rely too heavily on the ability of Torres, there was too big a gap between Torres and the rest of the team last night. At times the Spaniard managed to make something of the long ball situations but as the game went on you could see the visible frustration from Torres, he was essentially feeding on scraps. Support from midfield was all too rare, but when it did come Liverpool created arguably their best chance (and move) of the night when Ryan Babel linked up with the main forward, only for the Dutchman to be foiled by Landreaux.

One thing to emphasise here is that using the long ball tactic is not the worst ploy, in fact with the pace and ability of Torres it can be fruitful but in order for it become effective support must come from midfield, too many times last night this wasn't the case. There must also be a variation in the type of attack Liverpool present to the opposition, going long everytime becomes easy for the opposition to read. Last season the link up between Gerrard and Torres (even if they didn't start too many games together) was effective but was also added to by a supporting cast of Dirk Kuyt, Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera.

Liverpool's forward philosophy seems to have become extremely static, which in itself is baffling considering the success of last season. Does Benitez's 4-2-3-1 formation need to be altered? It was very successful last season but in truth it has never looked like repeating that success this term. In the Premier League especially there seems to be a new trend emerging of the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation with Manchester United and Arsenal two of the beneficiaries. Manchester United's use of this system with Rooney at the head of the formation seems effective, it becomes efficient both in both home and away games because the two wide players are used to support the attack when going forward and then sit in to become a five-man midfield when the opposition are coming forward.

It could be worth considering by Benitez because Liverpool do have the personel to use this formation. Torres, as we know can lead the line solely, he could then be supported by the likes of Ryan Babel, Albert Riera, Dirk Kuyt or Yossi Benayoun in the two wide positions. That would leave three positions in the middle of midfield where you could potentially use Gerrard, Mascherano, Lucas or even Aquilani.


On a side note, the recent performances of Javier Mascherano must be applauded. The Argentine is finding his best form again, even in his stints at right-back (most notably in the Derby) the 25-year-old has impressed. Against Lille Javier was at his destructive best, it's just a shame that nobody in front of him is showing any particular form.

Obviously Liverpool have now made things extremely difficult for themselves in their quest for fourth place but there surely couldn't have been a better game to get back on track than troubled Portsmouth coming to Anfield.