Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen says opponents travel to Anfield with more hope after the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
The Uruguayan scored 31 goals in the Premier League as Brendan Rodgers’ team mounted a surprise title challenge, finishing just two points behind eventual champions Manchester City.
But the Reds are yet to hit top form so far this season with two wins and two defeats from their four matches, including a 1-0 win at home to Aston Villa on Saturday where Liverpool failed to create hardly any clear-cut chances.
“Last season, as everyone witnessed in open-mouthed admiration, Liverpool tore into teams from the very first whistle and on a number of occasions the match was sewn up well before half-time,” Owen, who scored 158 goals in 297 games for Liverpool, said on Sportlobster.com.
“However, with Suarez moving on to pastures new and with a whole host of new signings settling in, teams will travel to Anfield with slightly more hope and a considerably more defensive mind-set.
“I'm sure Liverpool fans will hope Brendan Rodgers and his team can quickly learn to develop another plan by luring teams in and then hitting them quickly on the counter-attack with their lighting pace up front.”
Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad face Liverpool at Anfield for the club’s first Champions League game since December 2009 – with Rodgers’ side expected to comfortably beat the minnows.
But Owen says Liverpool must learn how to break down defensive teams if they are to reach the heights of last season.
“After their lacklustre performance and defeat against Aston Villa at the weekend, Liverpool will be relishing the chance to get back on track when they play their first Champions League match for five years,” added Owen.
“The home game against Ludogorets Razgrad is certainly, on paper, the easiest way to gently ease themselves back into the biggest and best club tournament in world football. However, you can be pretty sure the Bulgarian outfit, who are playing in their very first Champions League tie, will set their stall out to leave Anfield with anything other than a good hiding.
“If this proves to be the case, it will be a good examination of Liverpool’s ability to break teams down, whose first ambition at Anfield is to avoid defeat. One thing, which could certainly have a huge bearing on the outcome is the atmosphere at Anfield on European nights.”
Owen scored 22 goals in 50 European matches for the club and won the Uefa Cup in 2001, and also spoke of the noise generated by fans on European nights at Anfield, which has just been given the green light by city councillors to expand to 54,000.
“With a capacity of just 6,000 in their stadium, it is fair to say they won’t have seen or heard anything like the incredible wall of noise which will greet them as they step onto the Anfield turf.”