Blackburn 0 Liverpool 1: Talking points as Reds reach FA Cup semi-finals
Dipak Patel takes a look at some of the talking points as Liverpool beat Blackburn to reach the FA Cup semi-finals
Rodgers needs the FA Cup
Liverpool chances of a top-four finish have diminished massively over the course of two games, they were outplayed in their 2-1 defeat by Manchester United and were thrashed by Arsenal 4-1 at The Emirates. There is a suspicion that Liverpool bottle it in the big games, they showed that against Chelsea and Crystal Palace when they were pursuing the league title last season, and have done so again with high-profile defeats by contenders for the Champions League. What we can say for definite is that Brendan Rodgers is starting to build something – he has defined their way of playing by his utilisation of the 3-4-3, which has been very successful. If he can add a few good defenders too his squad – ones that are comfortable in possession of the ball – then the future looks bright for Liverpool. However, the pressure will be on Rodgers to have a successful end to the season and an FA Cup would certainly go a long way to please both the fans and the board. Champions League qualification now appears to be unrealistic, with seven points separating them and City – who lie in fourth. But Rodgers will buy himself some vital time by winning a trophy and he can continue to work on the project that he has started at Liverpool.
Gerrard may yet end on a high for Liverpool
It has been a turbulent season for the Steven Gerrard. For so long he has been the man for the big occasions, the one that Liverpool turned too when they needed something the most. However, things haven’t gone to plan for the 34-year-old. It began last year when Gerrard infamously slipped to allow Demba Ba to score in their crucial game against Chelsea, which handed the title to Manchester City. The Reds haven’t been able to replicate that form and to compound matters, Rodgers allowed Gerrard to sign on a free for LA Galaxy, rather than offer him a new contract. It caused quite a lot of controversy, with some feeling that he should have been treated better by the club, while others felt that his time had come to an end and Rodgers decision was justified. Those that agree with that argument would have felt vindicated when Gerrard was again at the centre of their game with Manchester United. The England midfielder momentarily lost his cool stamping on Ander Herrera, which earned him a red card and cost Liverpool the game, and a potentially a place in the top four. But despite all this Liverpool are still on course to reach the FA Cup final, and possibly win it which would be a fitting end to Gerrard’s career. It also coincides with his birthday so it would be quite some story.
Rovers can be proud of their efforts
The Championship side have performed above expectations to get to the quarter-finals and made Liverpool work very hard. In fact their defensive discipline meant that it took Liverpool until the 70th minute to score – and they struggled at Anfield against them in the initial game as well which finished in a draw. Gary Bowyer had a plan and for the majority of the game it worked, they got men behind the ball and stopped Liverpool playing through the middle. However, they probably should have started with Rudy Gestede as he was a nuisance in the first match they played, and secondly he had his side playing way too cautiously – they showed no ambition in the game. It was only a matter of time before Liverpool got the breakthrough considering the possession they had – but Blackburn can still be happy with their efforts.