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 saw it in the first leg, we saw it against the Trotters at the weekend and we saw it earlier tonight; our lack of a cutting edge in the final third is making us pay, and at the Bridge, we did dearly. A relative lack of experience from some, poor decision making from others, a couple players short on match sharpness thrown into the mix at the end and that was that.
I could spend the next three or four paragraphs going on about it — Sterling’s blinders early on when he could have passed to an open Steven Gerrard, Alberto Moreno’s extra touch on the ball before shooting, Lucas barely skirting a red card, Jordan Henderson doing the same and missing a glorious header to tie things up, Rickie Lambert’s punt and pray from the top of the box coupled with Glen Johnson losing Ivanovic on the corner — but I’m not going to do that.
There were too many positives to bang away like an old curmudgeon; Emre Can looks like a player even when pitted against Eden Hazard or Diego Costa, Philippe Coutinho is rediscovering his best form, Mario Balotelli balanced the good with the bad and the biggest scapegoat of all in Simon Mignolet put in arguably his best performance of the season as the confidence (hopefully) begins to seep back in for the Belgian.
In the wake of such a frantic affiar, it’s hard not to focus on the here and now and making talk of the future maybe a bit premature, but there was a lot of heart and a lot of fight from this team against a side that’s setting the pace at the top of the table and that bodes well not only for the rest of the campaign, but beyond. A month ago you wouldn’t have been able to ring-out this kind of performance from the boys and that’s a testament to both their commitment to the cause and, in my opinion, Brendan Rodgers ability to turn the tide.
There’s more to come from this lot.