Goal-shy Liverpool must spend big

Liverpool 0 Charlton 0

The longer it goes without Liverpool’s front men taking advantage from the countless chances created - they had 21 shots against a defiant but deeply defensive Charlton - the more obvious it is that there will be big changes soon in the striking department.

It is 11 games now - back to December 28 - since they scored more than two in a league game, and a repeat of that against Benfica on Wednesday will see an abrupt end to their Champions League involvement.

But skipper Steven Gerrard remains confident that the goals will start to go in and his friend and colleague Robbie Fowler is due some luck for a change.

In injury time against Charlton, Fowler lashed the ball past Thomas Myhre and was racing away in manic celebration before he realised a flag had been raised.

Television replays showed that Fowler was onside but that Djibril Cisse had been penalised several yards away. Fowler, who had seen a stunning overhead kick rightly disallowed on his second coming at the club against Birmingham, was thwarted again.

Gerrard said: “We have seen Robbie’s goal on the video and it was a clear goal. He is not offside but Djibril (Cisse) has been given offside and he is not interfering with play. But that’s the offside law now that keeps confusing people and complicating the situation.

“We need to be a little more clinical in front of goal come Wednesday against Benfica. You have to feel for Robbie. He was almost in the Kop with his celebrations before he realised it had been disallowed.

“That would have given him a lot of confidence. But he played well, he’s working hard and you can see the fitness coming back. He told me afterwards that this one was his first 90 minutes since last May.”

Gerrard continued: “We know what people are going to say, we have been getting a lot of 1-0 victories and we cannot find the breakthrough. But we will continue to create the chances and sooner or later we will get the breaks.

“But we cannot afford to repeat this result in the Champions League. I do not think that it follows that because we didn’t score in this one we won’t score against Benfica. That won’t have an effect.

“The crowd will be a lot noisier and it will be played at a higher tempo. With a little bit more luck in front of goal we will get the victory we need to go through in Europe.”

The game was followed by more speculation about Benitez’s future, which the club dismiss out of hand.

The Spaniard assures everyone he is going nowhere despite speculation linking him with Real Madrid and Inter Milan.

And the club privately insist there will be money to spend in the summer and they have no reason to doubt Benitez’s assurances he will see out the three years left on his contract.

Charlton, unashamedly, constructed a massed defence and, with Myhre in great form, withstood the storm and clawed a point from the proceedings.

Gerrard added: “Charlton were very organised. Alan Curbishley’s side come with two banks of four across the pitch and they work really hard right to the end.

“You can’t expect them to come here and attack us. If they are not organised like they were then that is when pick them off and create even more.”

Charlton manager Curbishley said: “Liverpool had all the possession and created lots of chances and it is games like this that you want your ‘keeper to have an 11 out of 10 day and that’s what Thomas did.

“We were beaten by three goals at Wigan, Everton and Manchester City so I had to address the situation and stop such results, which is why we have been aiming for clean sheets. We did that at Newcastle and we did it at Anfield, that gives us a chance of something in a game. I had to do something to stop the goals going in.”

Opta Fact: No team has scored fewer headed goals than Liverpool this season (2) yet the Reds have attempted more headed shots than any other team in the Premiership (109).

Opta Fact: It is 1358 minutes of play since an opposition player scored at Anfield (in all competitions).

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