Liverpool 0-0 Bolton: Heskey and Spearing’s Return

An FA Cup Fourth Round that saw heavyweights Manchester City, Swansea City, Southampton, Chelsea and Tottenham all collapse to underdogs, Liverpool fans should remain upbeat following their team’s goalless draw against Bolton as a win at Greater Manchester in next month’s replay will mark the Reds as genuine contenders for the trophy.

It wasn’t an exceptional display from Liverpool on this occasion, with Bolton grabbing the headlines and taking plenty of credits for keeping a team that boasts the pace and trickery of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho at bay. Here’s what we learned from the FA Cup Fourth Round tie at Anfield.

Lallana is still not 100% fit

The England international looked surprisingly slow on the ball, and his movements confounded the Liverpool fans as he slowed down the team’s offence several times. As we could all conclude the fact that Lallana is still definitely not 100% fit, Rodgers’ decision to allow the former Southampton skipper to complete the entire 90 minutes on the pitch has left us flabbergasted.

Manquillo is no right-wingback

After witnessing Lazar Markovic’s effectiveness in both attacking and defending in that role against Aston Villa, Manquillo was drafted in to the starting lineup to produce equal quality. However, the young Spaniard was frustrating yesterday as he looked like a shadow of his fellow Serbian teammate. Lacked pace and didn’t offer much in attack, Manquillo’s time on the pitch was up as he was substituted for Fabio Borini just after the hour mark.

Joe Allen

Joe Allen… ugh

The Welsh international’s career at Liverpool did go off to a flying start back in 2012, when he was the club’s Player of the Month in August that year. He was promoted to the starting lineup to replace the in-form Lucas Leiva yesterday, but miserably failed to provide anything similar to the Brazilian’s recent excellence on and off the ball. Dubbed as the Xavi of Wales, Allen could not produce the class needed as the anchor of Liverpool’s attacking flair, and was understandably brought off after 67 minutes.

Sterling should have been rested

After a tantalizing display plus a goal against Chelsea earlier in the week in the League One Cup, many would have preferred the European Golden Boy to be rested alongside the captain Steven Gerrard for this fixture. As much as the fans were itching to see Mario Balotelli deployed back into the starting eleven, manager Brendan Rodgers brought an end to the Italian’s chances of netting his first FA Cup goal for Liverpool against Bolton yesterday by claiming that he has not been good enough on the training grounds to feature for the team. Still, many would have expected either Borini or Lambert to start against Bolton.

Bogdan

So do you think the Reds should have wrapped up the victory at Anfield? Or do you think Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan’s heroics earned his team a deserving replay next month? Tell us more at the comments section below!

 

Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City: Player Ratings

On a day when things started to look so good for Liverpool to kick start the new year with a convincing victory, Brendan Rodgers’ side slumped to a calamitous 2-2 draw having gone through the half-time interval with a demanding two-goal lead.

All in all, this tweet pretty much sums up everything about Liverpool’s current declining situation in goal.

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Notwithstanding that case, here’s how the lads in red fared at Anfield earlier.

Simon Mignolet – 5/10

Realistically, I think a good, not to say great, goalkeeper would have saved one of the two goals Mignolet had conceded to Leicester City today. Yes, David Nugent’s exquisite strike was indeed a wonder goal, and we’d be asking too much from the Belgian international if we expected him to stop that stinging shot. But I think Schlupp’s equalising goal two minutes after Nugent’s lifeline would have been saved had Mignolet’s positioning been more precise. Not mentioning that Mignolet gave the supporters a nail-biting moment when he was almost embarrassed by Mahrez’s long-range free-kick early into the game, giving everyone in the Anfield arena a major scare just two minutes after kick-off by leaving his left post unguarded thanks to his poor positioning yet again.

Mamadou Sakho – 8/10

Gave more reasons for the supporters to claim that he’s the best defensive asset Liverpool boast for the time being. Given the nod ahead of Dejan Lovren in today’s Premier League fixture, Sakho justified his boss’ decision by stopping Jamie Vardy’s goal-bound effort in the second-half with a courageous slide challenge.

Kolo Toure – 6/10

Filled into the starting lineup due to Martin Skrtel’s one-match suspension after picking up five yellow cards, and the Ivorian international often looked untidy at the backline throughout the 90 minutes today. Once again, communication and understanding lacked with his partners, thus allowing Leceister City to penetrate the Reds’ defense on a few occasions.

Emre Can – 7/10

To give Emre Can a 6 out of 10 rating for this encounter would have been a little bit too harsh on the German youngster, despite being part of the back three that conceded two goals. Yes, he was given a nightmare at Anfield earlier by the Leicester City attack that was often led by Jeffrey Schlupp, but the 20-year-old looked comfortable on the ball. His close control and slight trickery enabled him to get out of trouble whilst being pressed.

Jordan Henderson – 6/10

Not the best of games we’ve seen from Jordan Henderson to say the least. The former U21 captain of England still looks uncomfortable with the role given to him down the right flank, but managed to make up for the rocky performance with his endless pressing and tireless work rate.

Steven Gerrard – 7/10

We thought we’d see another one of those tantalizing Gerrard hat-tricks when the Liverpool captain slotted home two penalties in the coolest of fashions in the first-half. As usual, Gerrard’s passing looked tidy in the middle of the park and he was dictating the football like how the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso famously do for their respective clubs. Unfortunately, Stevie G failed to inspire his team to victory on the start of 2015.

Lucas Leiva – 6/10

A quiet night for the Brazilian today. Lucas was not able to provide enough cover for the back three behind him having been given the job to get all the dirty work done on the pitch.  Unconvincing displays like this often makes the Liverpool supporters wonder profusely, where the heck is Joe Allen?

Alberto Moreno – 6/10

Coming off the week with a well-deserved goal against Swansea City, Alberto Moreno arrived into this fixture boosted with an abundance of confidence in him. Went close to scoring on for himself again on one occasion, and could be seen running up and down the pitch zealously whilst trying to close his opponents down.

Philippe Coutinho – 7/10

There is certainly no lack of trickery in the Brazilian’s locker. However, Coutinho lacked vision on several occasions and this has been bothering me on previous fixtures as well. You can’t take away the fact that the 22-year-old is blessed with the world’s finest trickery, but you can see his teammates indignantly urging him to pass the freaking ball at times.

Adam Lallana – 6/10

Coming off the week with a spectacular brace against Swansea City and the fans singing his name, Lallana was in buoyant mood heading into Anfield and he nearly had more to cheer for when he found himself in goal-scoring opportunities. Lallana’s had the chances, but he simply wasn’t clinical enough to finish them off. Nevertheless, the former Southampton man is enjoyable to watch in attack and there’s definitely more to come from the lad.

Raheem Sterling – 6/10

Sterling’s got quick feet, and the world knows very well about that. However, apart from a well-timed cross that found Lazar Markovic in the closing stages, the newly crowned Golden Boy of Europe was much of a spectator of the game after winning the penalty of his side during the first-half.

Substitutions:

Fabio Borini – 5/10

A relatively good opportunity for the overlooked Italian to catch the eye of his manager and the devoted supporters, but he simply couldn’t do that today. Opportunities are clearly running out for Borini, and now that the January transfer window has been opened, a big signing in the month could see him go further down the pecking order after a dull performance against Leicester City.

Lazar Markovic – 6/10

Brought on to inject more pace into the team during the second-half, the Serbian youngster did not fail in doing so. Nonetheless, Markovic was guilty of squandering a wonderful chance to put three points down the pocket for Liverpool when his clear header from inside the box went agonizingly wide.

Rickie Lambert – 4/10

Again, Lambert was not given enough time to find the winning goal for the Reds as the big centre-forward was substituted in for Alberto Moreno with only 5 minutes on the clock left to play.

So 2015 didn’t start the way we wanted it to. But oh well, conceding two goals in just two minutes, that’s just vintage Liverpool isn’t it? The 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace that caused us a grip on the Premier League title did hurt us, and it hurt us bad. But the team’s just not learning from their mistakes yet are they?

So what do you think was the main reason behind Liverpool’s failure to capitalise on their two-goal lead? Tell us your opinions at the comment’s section below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Real Victory

Of all days I had to sleep and miss the game. But at least looking at the scoreline alone makes me happy.

Let’s face it. Nobody was convinced by that victory against Burnley on boxing day. That was perhaps the most frustrating first half I have ever sat through in a long time. But yesterday’s (or today’s in Malaysia) win against Swansea finally saw a win, with all the positives we had seen from the games against Manchester United and Arsenal.

Brendan’s seemingly finally gotten his formula right. Three centerbacks holding the back line for us, but with a more defensive stance, with Javier Manquillo & Alberto Moreno at the wingback positions, rather than the usual Markovic and Henderson. I’ve been raving about Emre Can of late, and I think that he really deserves that starting XI spot that he got yesterday night. He seems to be one of our better players at both the centerback, as well as the central defensive midfielder position.

It is seemingly clear that Brendan Rodgers has established that both Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet need a bit of time to rediscover themselves, with Lovren sitting out yet another game – Mignolet having to play given the circumstance (his kicking in the game was still sub-par from what I’ve heard).

But it was the game where he finally got it right with regard to his attacking midfielders. Quite frankly, they cannot play wide. I feel its simple as that. Only Raheem Sterling offers an option which is only somewhat reminiscent of what a Premier League should look like. Coutinho and Lallana’s strengths are not in:

a) crossing the ball into the box

b) beating their man to find an easy square ball into the box.

Their strength is having the ability to pick out passes in front of them in all directions. By having them in more narrow positions, with Jordan Henderson rotating out wide and the interchanging of positions with the wingbacks, they were allowed to play much more comfortably than usual.

That Coutinho pass to Adam Lallana. Just magical. His form of late is finally showing glimpses of that wonderful performance against Borussia Dortmund that I still go back to (but now I guess a lot of people can understand why they happened, given Dortmund’s position in the Bundesliga at the moment).

Its going to be an interesting transfer window for Liverpool fans. There will definitely be arrivals – most definitely a keeper from what the rumour mill has been churning out, as well as an outside chance for us going out and signing a centerback/striker. One thing’s for certain, this is going to be the most difficult transfer window for Brendan Rodgers since he signed up for the Liverpool FC rollercoaster ride.

But as a Liverpool fan, I feel it can’t be a performance that we get overexcited about. The inconsistency in going about and putting on good performances like that of last night remains. But at least, the year ends on a really high note for Liverpool Football Club.

Last of all, a Happy New Year to all Reds’ fans out there!

Opinions & All That Jazz