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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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City23202167175062
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd23155348163250
3Liverpool23138254282647
4Chelsea23145441162547
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs23135546212544
6Arsenal23116641301139
7Burnley239771920-134
8Leicester CityLeicester238783432231
9Everton2376102538-1327
10Watford2375113342-926
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham2367102941-1225
12Crystal Palace2367102133-1225
13Bournemouth2366112435-1124
14Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2366111939-2024
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2365122131-1023
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2358101729-1223
17Southampton2349102334-1121
18Stoke CityStoke2355132350-2720
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom23310101830-1219
20Swansea CitySwansea2345141435-2117
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