You would have thought I’d have known better at my age when I thought Liverpool would sail through the second leg of the Capital One Cup Semi-Final at home against Stoke City no bother. I think there would have been a better chance of me winning tonight’s Euro millions lottery than that happening. Liverpool started the brighter of the two teams but for me manager Jürgen Klopp made a mistake in his selection, he should have played Joe Allen instead of Jordan Henderson, simply because Henderson’s body can no longer sustain two or three games a week. I’d also have played Jordan Ibe for say James Milner or Adam Lallana. Ibe on the ball runs at players and isn’t afraid to get stuck in and the less said about Milner the better.
I think Mark Hughes will feel that his team deserved to win. His side restricted Liverpool to ZERO shots on target over the one hundred and twenty minutes of football. Yes you’re reading that correctly: ZERO shots on target, in a cup semi-final at home, Liverpool had ZERO shots on target. I hate going back over old ground but Alberto Moreno had his second worst game as a Liverpool player against Stoke. His first was against Norwich last weekend. He was caught out of position for Stoke’s goal, which was the eighth scored against Mignolet recently. He’s now conceded eight goals from his last eight shots on target in all competitions. So much for the ‘oh he’s a great shot stopper’ stat. I’m seriously concerned about when the next time he’s actually going to stop a shot that’s on target. Anyways enough about Mignolet, he saved two penalties in the penalty shoot out so we should savour that achievement.
Anyways back to Moreno, I lost count the amount of times he was caught out of position against Stoke. I think I even tweeted at half-time that now is the time for Brad Smith to be given a chance to prove he can cut it as a regular Liverpool left-back, only to be told that Moreno is the defender that is the most creative in the Premier League this season. OK, that’s fair enough but with only two assists in all competitions, creativeness means bugger all without an end product.
The team as a whole lacked any sort of creativity. Yes they were running the channels, pressing Stoke every chance they got but the final ball was absolutely terrible. Firmino looked out of sync. He looked tired and looked like he maybe needs a mini break to recharge his batteries. Adam Lallana was decent in the first half. He seemed to be all over the pitch, chasing down balls, tackling and even defending. Then there was Christan Benteke. Well what can I say about him that I already haven’t in the post, Liverpool’s Benteke Problem. Again he was ineffective. Second to everything, I can only once remember him holding up the ball to let the attack catch up to him. Although I did finally hear the words Benteke onside. That at least deserves a Jürgen hug. The Alex Teixeira deal is a must for me now.
Apart from Emre Can, only one player did themselves proud and that was the Scouse Cafu Jon Flanagan. Flanagan put in a performance against Stoke that he should be proud of. Yes he looked tired at the end but what a performance he gave. He charged down the right flank during attacks putting in crosses, he defended excellently against Jonathan Walters who was trying to give him a hard time. He flew in to tackles and didn’t back down, something some Liverpool players haven’t done for a while. He led by example and has given Jürgen Klopp something to think about once Clyne recovers from his ankle knock.
Now Liverpool await the result of the other semi-final tie between Manchester City and Everton to see who they will.face in the final. The romantic in me is hoping it’s Everton. It would be a fitting tribute to the city to have both teams in a Cup final twenty seven years after the last time both teams met in a cup final.
Liverpool fans can now look forward to yet another cup final on February twenty eighth and Anfield South can expect to hear the roar of the travelling Kop as Jürgen Klopp wins his first trophy as Liverpool manager.