An inability to find the net at the weekend put Liverpool in a precarious position by allowed Bolton Wanderers to snag a replay in the FA Cup, and that worrying trend carried on as the Reds were knocked out of the League Cup by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Despite being arguably the best team in the land, it took the Blues until extra time before they could fashion a winner with Branislav Ivanovic’s free header from a Willian free-kick from the edge of the box enough to secure Jose Mourniho’s men safe passage to Wembley Stadium. On the back of such a pulsating affair, it’d be a bit harsh to say that Liverpool’s defending let them down again — to be fair, this one should have been wrapped up long before the Serbian nodded home.
We’ve got confidence
Cup competitions always pose a huge question mark, but following the surprising results at the weekend, the second leg of tomorrow’s League Cup semi-final has become even more unpredictable.
After dominating Chelsea in the first leg, Liverpool followed up that performance with a scoreless draw against Championship side Bolton Wanderers at Anfield, allowing the Trotters to secure themselves a lucrative replay. While the added strain of an additional fixture crammed into an already bursting schedule is a conversation better suited for another day, it’s a talk that the Blues wouldn’t mind having after they were dumped out of the competition by League One side Bradford City in front of their own fans.
No messing about
Although returning Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will be given a late fitness test ahead of the second leg of their League Cup semi-final showdown with Chelsea on Tuesday, the Reds aren’t about to gamble with the fitness of their star man confirmed boss Brendan Rodgers.
“No. It doesn’t matter how big the game is, there is no point in Daniel being out all this time to just rush him back” said the Northern Irishman when asked if there’s temptation to rush the 25-year old back into the squad. “The other players have shown in this period that they can perform, so we wouldn’t risk him, no. Of course he wants to be involved in the big games between now and the end of the season, and this is one. But we have to be realistic and careful with him. We have to make sure he is available for a sustainable length of time.”
What is reality?
With Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers throwing the future of struggling striker Mario Balotelli even further into question following his revelations that the 24-year hasn’t been doing his bit in training, Italian side Lazio have in return done nothing to quell speculation that they’re looking to take him back to Serie A on loan for the remainder of the season.
Balotelli has been linked with a temporary move to a number of different teams after falling far out of favour on Merseyside, but with only a handful of days left in the transfer window, Lazio are emerging as the favorites to take stewardship of the controversial hit-man with the Roman side making the most noise out of all of the pack rumoured to be chasing his signature. Now, whether or not there’s any truth in this remains to be seen, but for the time being anyway, their not doing anything to distance themselves from the controversial striker.
In line for a return
Although he’s not realistically expected to play much of a part — if any at all — when Liverpool travel to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final with the Blues, returning striker Daniel Sturridge will be given a late fitness test just in case.
The 25-year old, who has been out since the end of August with a various array of muscle injuries, is set to return to full training on Sunday ahead of West Ham United’s trip to Anfield at the weekend. While the clash with the Hammers looks to be the more likely of the two matches for Sturridge to feature in, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers refused to rule out his star man playing at least a small role in Tuesday’s trip to the Capital.