'Liverpool's problems down to lacking a Fowler or Rush' - Barnes blames forwards, not defenders

Roberto Firmino Mohamed Salah Liverpool
The former Reds midfielder is looking for Jurgen Klopp's side to become more clinical and defend better as a team, rather than as individuals

Liverpool’s problems are down to lacking a “classic No.9” such as Robbie Fowler or Ian Rush, not their defence, says John Barnes.

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The Reds have seen their inability to collect clean sheets used against them this season, with Jurgen Klopp facing some uncomfortable questions for failing to address those deficiencies in the transfer market.

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An indifferent run of form has seen pressure mount around Anfield, with the back door too easy to breach and the front line misfiring on too many occasions.

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Barnes believes that is the main source of concern for Liverpool, with it up to Klopp to make his side more clinical while hammering home the need to defend as a team – not rely on individuals.

The former Reds midfielder told Standard Sport: "[Liverpool's season has been] patchy. They are such an attacking side with so many players going forward that at time they leave the back four exposed.

“For me, that's one of the main problems - not necessarily that they have a dodgy back four but the way they defend as a team. 

John Barnes Liverpool lack Fowler Rush

"They don't have a classic No.9 goalscorer to put the ball in the back of the net. They create chances, efforts on goal but they [Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino] are not a Robbie Fowler or an Ian Rush. They aren't that clinical. 

"But they are playing an exciting brand of football. 

"They've had the best record against the top teams. I'm not worried about when they play against Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham. The problem they have is when they play the other teams who defend deep."

Liverpool are set to face United at Anfield on Saturday, and will do so without the services of key forward Mane – who is nursing a hamstring injury picked up while on international duty with Senegal.

His absence could lead to £35 million summer signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being drafted into the starting XI.

The England international has seen just 72 minutes of Premier League football since swapping Arsenal for Anfield, but Barnes believes that the 24-year-old will prove to be a shrewd addition.

He added: "He hasn't started all the games but he's come to be a main player at Liverpool for, hopefully, the next five, six or seven years. 

"We're too quick to judge. When players come in and do well we say they are fantastic. And if they aren't in the team and don't start, we say it's a disaster. It's not. 

"I think he's a fantastic player. He's probably a reflection of the team. He's come to be part of a good team and because the team has been inconsistent, maybe he's been inconsistent. 

"But I think he'll be a fantastic signing for Liverpool long-term.”