Paul Scholes: 'Mario Balotelli not to blame for faltering Liverpool'

Paul Scholes insists that Mario Balotelli's lack of goals in the Premier League is not to blame for Liverpool's slow start to the campaign.

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has claimed that Mario Balotelli is an "easy target" for criticism following Liverpool's slow start to the season.

The Italian striker has failed to get off the mark for the Reds in the Premier League, which has led to many questioning the performances of the £16m summer purchase from AC Milan.

However, Scholes believes that it is wrong to single Balotelli out, saying that he is not alone in struggling to get up to full flow so far this campaign.

"Another week of Mario Balotelli stories and I cannot help thinking he is an easy target," the 39-year-old told the London Evening Standard. "There are some players at Liverpool getting away with murder while Balotelli cops a lot of the stick. His name, his reputation - even his body language on the pitch - they all add up to the kind of player who attracts criticism.

"It does not detract from the reality that Liverpool lost Luis Suarez, their best player and key goalscorer last season, and their next best striker - Daniel Sturridge - has been injured for so long. It is a basic truth in football that good forwards make the whole team look better.

"Balotelli has at least taken the spotlight off some of the other summer signings. Dejan Lovren has struggled. Lazar Markovic has not scored a goal yet and he cost £20m. Alberto Moreno is quick but is yet to convince as a defender. Adam Lallana is the only one who looks like he is comfortable with the shift, and at £25m I think he was overpriced."

Liverpool, who travel to face Newcastle United this weekend, are currently seventh in the Premier League table.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew prior to kick-off in the match against Chelsea on November 2, 2013
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