Liverpool may have crashed out of the Capital one cup last night to Mourinho’s men, but Brendan Rodgers won’t be too disappointed as it was another stepping stone towards the Reds finding their identity once again after a dismal start to the season.
The Reds matched Chelsea equally all over the pitch but the experience is what Liverpool couldn’t match in extra time as Ivanovic headed the Blue’s in front from an unmarked position.
Rodgers and his side have gone from strength to strength since their humiliating 3-0 defeat to Manchester United, a pattern of improvement similar to one in Brendan Rodger’s first season after they lost 2-1 to United away in a game which saw Daniel Sturridge score his first goal for the club. After the loss at Old Trafford that season, Liverpool had a strong second half of the campaign to end 2013 on a high.
Since Liverpool’s defeat to United on the 14th December, Liverpool have gone on a run of six wins in 10 matches, drawing the other four games and also keeping four clean sheets along the way in which has been an improved defensive and attacking display. The Reds have also managed to rediscover their passing and pressing verve which was so influential to their play last season.
Philippe Coutinho has been an integral part of Liverpool’s rediscovered form, in a period which has seen his own improve dramatically. After the loss at Old Trafford in December, Jamie Carragher labelled his former team mate as “physically weak” after he was out run, out classed and out muscled by United’s midfield.
It has often been the assumption that Coutinho lacks consistency and goals, but there is no doubting he has the potential to be world class – but it’s whether that potential can be sustained and nurtured in a way that Rodgers has done with Raheem Sterling. Coutinho has found more consistency to his performances of late, whilst he also contributed a goal in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal in December.
The Brazilian found himself in and out of the team at the start of the season, but it now seems that Rodgers see’s the player as imperative to his set up.
It was an impressive display by Coutinho last night at the Bridge, in which he probed the Chelsea back line with his energy and vision on the ball, however it was also frustrating that he didn’t take the chances which fell to him. The best chance of the bunch being when he took the ball past Fabregas and found some great space as he surged into the box but his shot wasn’t equal to his play, and Thibaut Courtois saved his effort.
When you consider Liverpool haven’t had an out and out striker since Sturridge got injured in August, they have done extremely well, most notably – Raheem Sterling.
At only 20 years old , Sterling has carried Liverpool and scored some important goals, but he isn’t a natural goal scorer and it is clear that the return of Sturridge will determine whether Liverpool finish in the top four this season.
Having that one goal scorer and match winner in your team is crucial, especially in the second half of the season. Look at Spurs, they have Harry Kane who has been outstanding so far this term. Arsenal have Alexis Sanchez and United have Wayne Rooney.
If Liverpool keep Sturridge fit and Coutinho, Sterling and not to forget Lucas continue their integral parts in the Reds revival, it will shape up to be one of the most intense battles for fourth spot yet.
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