The Fallout From Liverpool's Draw With Blackburn
It’s been an odd few weeks in the Liverpool camp; so much has happened recently that Lovren’s Ataturk penalty seems a very long time ago.
Memories of that particular catastrophe were eroded somewhat by wave upon wave of quality move, pass and of course, long distance screamer in the following games. But from the platform of these wins Liverpool would have been looking for a clean dive into the semi-final of the FA Cup. A 0-0 with Blackburn quickly turned said clean dive into a potentially jittery one.
That’s not to say it won’t do the job though. A replay at Ewood Park is not exactly as daunting facing the invincibles at Highbury. It’s worth remembering though that Blackburn have taken their fair share of Premier League scalps already in this year’s competition. Futhermore, they can certainly take something from the draw at Anfield, and not just the result.
The main thing they can take however may also be their downfall in the return fixture: they held out against almost everything Rodgers had at his disposal. An achievement though that may be, the alarm bells may already be ringing at Blackburn when they consider that Rodgers now knows just how far he has to go to get his win.
But what exactly will this entail for the Reds? It is unlikely that we’ll see a multitude of changes, for one thing; at least not in terms of personal. And it’s even more unlikely Rodgers tactical consistency will waver either. What could well change is the attitude of the players.
Whilst it was a decent effort on Sunday, that is all it was: decent. In the replay I expect, or at least hope, that we will see more than that. Given the reward is a place at Wembley, it would seem only reasonable to anticipate an improved effort to get past the opposition next time round.
That however could be a risk in itself. With a top four clash against Manchester United on the following weekend and a tough run in following that perhaps Rodgers team selection may not quite be so straight forward. Finding the right balance that gets him into the semi-final and keeps the league chase alive could be one of the toughest challenges so far in the manager’s Liverpool career.
But that’s a balancing act that can ultimately wait; if you asked him where his focus was now, like a broken record the manager would reply: ‘the next game’. It’s a broken record that would truly be music to Liverpool fans’ ears as well: last season proved winning each game as it comes ultimately pays off.
And that is never more true than in the F.A Cup; having been drawn against Aston Villa and Tim Sherwood in the next round, whoever wins in the replay will feel like they have a real shot at the final. For Liverpool, one can only look at their potential path as one they should be strolling down.
But as Blackburn proved, and Besiktas before them, the path to any cup final will always be littered with obstacles; obstacles which are rather difficult to avoid. In the case of Blackburn it is an issue which will soon enough pop up again, and only time will tell whether the Reds have enough to get through this time round.
Forget ‘que sera sera’, the Anfield faithful will tell you they are on the march with Brendan’s army, and will need their team to be firing on all cylinders if they are to claim yet another F.A Cup.