Liverpool’s winning streak came to a halt after allowing Chelsea to come back to win the game at Anfield. Odd feeling of disappointment and indifference is all I had at the end of the game. Liverpool losing is never a good thing but hard to tell how important winning this cup is in terms of the big picture.
Let’s take scenario one… an above average year where we fall short to Manchester City in title race, eliminated from Champions League before the final, lose out in late stages of the FA cup but win the League Cup. Are we happy after this season? Do we say, well we at least got a trophy or do we regret a lost season that started so well and perhaps fell apart as we got overwhelmed with games? Players want to win trophies, some say… this is why we have lost players in the past. Don’t the players even know that this cup does not have much of a value in the grand scheme of things? They definitely do.
Scenario two… out of the League Cup, exit out of the FA Cup but a league title or a Champions League trophy. It sure sounds like a season to cherish doesn’t it? I find it hard to believe there are any fans out there who will take joy out of the first scenario but will take away a season to celebrate with the second.
Getting eliminated from the League Cup does not guarantee success in other lanes of course but I think it sure helps. While other teams will have one more battlefront to fight at, we will be able to focus on the specific tasks on hand. Klopp is extremely successful in preparing his team for big games when given time and the team finds it a lot easier when playing with similar lineups on a consistent basis.
Liverpool used their squad players mostly and just like last year, they only hurt themselves with a below average performance. The defense brought back flashbacks of Mignolet not coming out to grab crosses and command the box, Moreno using his speed only to chase people since he is mostly out of position, Lovren and Matip not being able to dominate the center of the field physically… When we left the cup early after losing to Leicester, plans to loan out players started as it was apparent that they would not get playing time if they stayed at Anfield.
Hard to judge the team as a group as it was a squad put together for this game with no experience of playing together. Shows us why cohesion is important and hopefully people will understand now why it is taking time for Keita and Fabinho to get worked into the team. You cannot just get a bunch of good players and throw them out there hoping for victories, regardless of how expensive the players are and how skilled they may be. Just ask PSG.
- Moreno is a mystery. I want him to succeed and he showed glimpses beginning of last season but it just seems like he is consistently inconsistent. Moreno is physically more gifted than Robertson in many ways especially in terms of speed, but he is always out of position and at times shows such poor defensive technique(like in Hazard’s goal) that it looks like we are playing our LW at LB due to an injury or a red card.
- Mignolet is another mystery. Even though he was not at fault in the goals conceded (even though some might argue he could have done better in the second one), he just does not give confidence. Every corner kick was back to being a horror show. If I feel the anxiety, so does the stadium… if the stadium feels it, so does the rest of the team which cannot help our overall confidence.
- Fabinho is a good player. Will he be great over time as he adjusts possibly? One thing is for sure, he is not there yet and needs the time. Being out of the cup is the worst for players like him who could have benefited from playing time.
- Keita can be one of the top players for us but has to get used to playing our style of midfield. He is very dangerous with the ball, his dribbling skills and pace is a nightmare for a defense but his lack of defensive discipline leaves huge gaps in midfield. Part of the reason Fabinho had a tough time was due to having Keita and Sturridge playing in front of him.
- Sturridge did not play the way he played against PSG. He had a great finish after missing a much easier opportunity but his workrate was nowhere near his effort against PSG
- Shaqiri will be a great weapon off the bench for us filling in for Mane and Salah when they get rested. He is great on the ball and fights hard to win the ball back. As he keeps playing more with the starters, improved chemistry will make our frontline deadly even when one of the three is being rested.
Up next is Chelsea again…this time definitely a much more important game. Chance for Liverpool to show their intent and prove that when they want it, they can get the result they are out to get. I expect the lineup to go back to normal with Gini, Milner, and Henderson bossing that midfield while the front three do their work. Much improved defensive line and goalie will keep Chelsea quiet. Keep in mind that we are due for a game where all the chances we create start going in and the front three clicks like they normally do. This could be the week for it and no better time to show our strength and stake our claim in a trophy that has a ton of meaning.