Maybe the Philippe Coutinho injury means the end to the impressive start Liverpool have been on this season, but it might also be the chance for Iago Aspas to finally show it was a wise decision to sign him this summer, and erase the bad impression he has left during the first month on the job.
He has played in four league matches since arriving, each time in a slightly different position, changing between wide forward while partnering up with Daniel Sturridge and playing behind the striker in an attacking midfielder role that might not suit him very well.
He hasn’t completed 90 minutes of football even once – being subbed off three times and coming on during the draw with Swansea, replacing Coutinho, which also meant the end to Liverpool’s attempts on Swansea’s goal.
The problem with Aspas it that he seems to be a bad fit for Liverpool’s current tactics. Rodgers doesn’t like partnering up two strikers up front, which means Aspas has to drift somewhere else. As a left winger he has done reasonably well, and that should be his position now that Coutinho is gone for six week, although with a bit more “midfieldy” responsibilities. He did play in Spain as something of a wide forward at times, but he’s not used to being a third and fourth option on an offense that looks for Sturridge first and foremost, while Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson also seem to be coming before him.
But with Coutinho out and Suarez yet to be back, this might be the last chance for Aspas in the near future to leave a good impression and put himself in contention for the lineup spot. Liverpool aren’t on such a busy schedule that it forces them to rotate players often, meaning that whoever is in the lineup picture shouldn’t plan on getting too much rest unless Liverpool do really well in the local cup competitions.
Aspas is a good player, but maybe a bit out of his depth with what Rodgers is asking him to do, which has been chasing wing backs or being something close to a play maker, which might not be his cup of tea. Now that Coutinho is gone, he’ll be on the left again, somewhere between a wide attacking midfielder and a left winger, which Aspas needs to start adapting to.
However, it may not work out that way at all. There is Victor Moses Liverpool have on the team now, which might mean that Rodgers will use Moses and Henderson in the same lineup once again, or maybe use Raheem Sterling who is waiting for his chance to return to the lineup. Aspas isn’t out of the picture, but he left a bad enough impression during the first month of his arrival that he might have fallen too deep down the pecking order to expect automatic minutes after Coutinho got injured.
It’s clear to see how is a hit among Liverpool’s new signings, with Mignolet and Kolo Toure being excellent additions, while Mamadou Sakho will get the chance to prove he can be a great centre back for the club for many years. Aspas? It was hard to know what to expect of him when he arrived, and it’s still not clear what kind of deal Liverpool got when they signed him. It’s not a now or never situation for him, not yet, but time is running out for him to change people’s early minds about him.