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3 good, 3 bad – featuring Coutinho, Lovren and Sturridge: Blackburn 0-1 Liverpool

After Liverpool edged past Blackburn Rovers 1-0 in their FA Cup quarter-final replay on Wednesday night, Jack Lusby selects three good and three bad performers.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Blackburn Rovers during the FA Cup 6th Round Quarter-Final Replay match at Ewood Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It won’t be regarded as a classic, but at last Liverpool have restored some positivity.

A single goal from Philippe Coutinho ensured the Reds passage to a Wembley FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa next Sunday, after a largely cagey clash on a poor Ewood Park pitch.

Brendan Rodgers will be happy with the way his side approached the game, with some bright attacking spells and largely comfortable possession play.

Here, we play good game, bad game, with three Reds selected for each category.

Who impressed for Liverpool, and who disappointed?

 

Good game…Dejan Lovren

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers congratulates Dejan Lovren after their 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers during the FA Cup 6th Round Quarter-Final Replay match at Ewood Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After Kolo Toure’s excruciating performance against Arsenal on Saturday, there was no surprise when Dejan Lovren was preferred over the Ivorian for this encounter, and the 25-year-old largely impressed in Rodgers’ back four.

Lovren won six aerial duels and made eight clearances, dominating the lowly Jordan Rhodes and outlining a possible suitability to Martin Skrtel’s central role if Liverpool return to a back three against Newcastle United on Monday night.

What was perhaps most impressive was how Lovren maintained a consistency, despite his defensive partner switching from Mamadou Sakho to Toure after just 27 minutes.

 

Bad game…Mamadou Sakho

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, December 29, 2014: Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho in action against Swansea City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sakho’s withdrawal with a hamstring injury before the half-hour mark should be a disappointment for all Liverpool supporters if he faces time out—however, it did bring an end to what was looking a shaky performance from the 25-year-old.

Making a near-costly mistake following a knock-on from Rhodes in the opening stages, Sakho was forced into an admittedly exceptional challenge to deny the sprightly Craig Conway.

Furthermore, in possession Sakho was far from himself, posting a 74.3 percent passing accuracy—very disappointing compared to his season’s average of 89.5 percent.

 

Good game…Joe Allen

SWANSEA, ENGLAND - Monday, March 16, 2015: Liverpool's Joe Allen after the 1-0 victory over Swansea City during the Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He’ll likely receive no widespread praise, but Joe Allen’s energetic performance in the centre of midfield helped Liverpool gain an important foothold at Ewood Park.

The 25-year-old, operating in a box-to-box role alongside Jordan Henderson—while Lucas Leiva sat as Liverpool’s anchor—performed with persistence and guile throughout.

Lee Williamson, Rovers’ midfield destroyer, was one of the stand-out performers in the initial Anfield draw, but here he was a peripheral figure, and this was largely due to Allen’s movement into space and consistent harrying.

Allen also supported the attack well, making two key passes, second only to his midfield partner Henderson.

 

Bad game…Daniel Sturridge

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against Blackburn Rovers during the FA Cup 6th Round Quarter-Final Replay match at Ewood Park. (Pic by Gareth Jones/Propaganda)

That it fell to some individual Coutinho brilliance to secure the victory perhaps says something about the dismal performance of Liverpool’s lone centre-forward, Daniel Sturridge.

Sturridge lacked the support of wide-men Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, and was forced to drop deep to collect the ball more than he would perhaps have liked, but it was the striker’s all-round individual play that truly disappointed.

Uninspired in his movement, flat in possession and still remarkably off the pace, Sturridge struggled.

The striker made five unsuccessful touches and was dispossessed four times—both more than any other player on the night.

 

Good game…Philippe Coutinho

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Blackburn Rovers during the FA Cup 6th Round Quarter-Final Replay match at Ewood Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was an odd game for Coutinho, operating in a rather unnatural right-wing role after proving his influence flourishes when deployed as a No. 10.

But needs must, and Rodgers’ 4-3-3 did restore some fluency to Liverpool’s game.

In a wide role, Coutinho’s positives switched to different areas—namely cutting inside to produce six shots on goal, and pressing Blackburn high, making more successful tackles (four) than any other Liverpool player.

It was his trademark ingenuity which provided the game with its only true moment of quality, however, as a deft one-two was followed by a neat driven shot which gifted Liverpool the winner.

After a muted run of late, Coutinho rose back to prominence at a vital time.

 

Bad game…Alberto Moreno

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 1, 2015: Liverpool's Alberto Moreno in action against Manchester City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Primarily culpable for decisive goals conceded against both Manchester United and Arsenal in recent league losses, Alberto Moreno’s poor form at left wing-back was surely one of the reasons why Rodgers opted to switch to a back-four defensive system on Wednesday night.

Happily, in the first half at Ewood Park Moreno looked to have improved, winning three tackles, often high up the pitch—helping Liverpool maintain their momentum and stymie Blackburn.

However, the 22-year-old dropped off significantly after the break, and made little contribution as the Reds probed for a winner.

Moreno had the least touches of the ball (55) of any Liverpool player to complete the full 90 minutes.

 

Statistics via WhoScored.

Who impressed and disappointed for you as Liverpool defeated Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup? Let us know in the comments below.

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