Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup in the fifth round at the hands of Chelsea, with another subpar performance on the road.
The Reds’ domestic exploits extend to only the Premier League for the remainder of the season after Jurgen Klopp‘s side fell to a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Despite fielding a strong starting XI, the Reds continued to look off the pace and disjointed from front to back as they struggled to land a blow on the hosts following a quick flurry of shots in the opening half.
It was the third defeat in succession away from Anfield, and ahead of the crucial last 16 fixture against Atletico Madrid, a response is needed.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Keifer MacDonald, who was at Stamford Bridge (@LFCMK1) and Jack Gill (@jacklfcgill) to delve into the positives and negatives from the defeat and discuss the approach for the all-important week ahead.
Keifer: There wasn’t a lot to be too happy about with last night’s performance or the overall trip.
Last night had the potential to be really good, 6000 Liverpool fans occupying the whole Shed End.
I thought the two young lads Williams and Jones were the only real positives on the night, throughout the whole FA Cup run they’ve stood up and made huge progression and showed that can big trusted and be big players for Liverpool next season.
Jack: I thought the first half was positive, we created chances it was just our finishing that was pretty woeful in those situations.
Jones and Williams I thought once again showed promising signs and look like two important players for the future of this football club.
I also liked Minamino last night, he faded as the game went on but he was exceptional in the first half and you started to see how alike to Firmino he is.
At the same time, he also provides something a little different to Bobby as he seemed to do a lot more runs in behind which was interesting.
Joanna: Like both Keifer and Jack, I thought the two youngsters were the shining lights on a night where the match seemed to pass the senior figures by.
Jones continued to show the levels of confidence he has been renowned for and Williams did his chances of further opportunities deputising for Trent no harm.
Prior to the calamity of Willian’s goal, Adrian had done superbly well to deny Chelsea but ultimately waned like the rest of his teammates – and Minamino showed promising glimpses.
Other than that, there is little to write home about on a night we will need to swiftly move on from.
Keifer: It was a disappointing night, more so from the context of the season.
With the league almost a certainty it felt like this season was a good chance to have a go at ‘the treble’ and a win last night would’ve put us one win from a semi-final at Wembley. And so it was disappointing that the lads failed to bounce back from Saturday night.
The team last night was strong enough on paper to go through, and the subs were odd – not to mention the timing of them.
Klopp should’ve made changes at half time, not at 2-0. Bringing Salah on for final 10 seemed very pointless for all involved. Chelsea were very much there for the taking with their run of form and the injuries they have suffered recently.
Jack: Fabinho‘s form recently has been a cause for concern he’s not looked like the player from the start of the season since his injury which is worrying, to say the least.
He’s gone from Mr Reliable to Mr Unreliable recently and his form is one of the reasons we are missing Hendo so much.
We also need to stop using Origi out wide, he’s not effective from the left. It makes me think he’s definitely going in the summer as you’d think Minamino would be better on the left with Origi through the middle, but it could be a sign of Klopp’s thinking for the future.
I feel as though we lost that midfield battle last night, it has been well balanced all season but last night it was far from it and it was far too easy for Chelsea to come through the middle and create opportunities.
Joanna: Klopp was right, the performance was not AS bad as Watford but it was still one which saw very few positives emerge.
Fabinho continued to look like the shell of his former injury self, lacking rhythm and confidence – ensuring the midfield was off the pace without considering Adam Lallana‘s lack of physicality or ability to keep up with play.
Overall, it was disjointed once more from front to back and the winter break has stunted all forward movement and seemingly the ability to defend, and when even Van Dijk is off the boil you know the Reds are not quite at the races.
Hopefully having three of our next four games in all competitions at Anfield will prove key in breathing new life into the team for the rest of the season.
And should the XI expected to face Atletico take to the field against Bournemouth?
Keifer: The next 10 days is season-defining, I think Bournemouth has to be as strong as possible, I think Robertson looked knackered last night so could maybe come out for Milner, and Robbo maybe get the last 30.
The likes of Fabinho, Trent etc. need to play themselves into form ahead of Atletico Madrid but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few changes, nothing major though.
Bournemouth is so important, it needs to be a routine win, get the goals back, a clean sheet and the confidence up ahead of Wednesday night…
Jack: A treble would’ve been nice but I won’t lose any sleep over it. The leagues my priority this season, I’ve never seen us do it and we’re in touching distance now.
If we get the Champions League as well then that would be fantastic but the League this year is enough for me to party all summer long.
Bournemouth needs to be two things: a reaction from our recent blip, and good preparation ahead of Atleti next week – which became an even bigger game last night for some supporters.
I personally don’t think the same team will start both games as I think we will take different approaches against what is two completely different teams. I’d love to see us batter Bournemouth, it would be the perfect reaction.
Joanna: Hard to disagree with Keifer there, the importance of the Bournemouth game has increased as the days have gone by and a strong XI is a must from Saturday into Wednesday.
The only exception for me would be Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson. The former, I doubt will be available for Atletico but it’s clear that his influence has been greatly missed, and it would be a major boost should he be up for selection.
And I’m in agreement, Robbo needs a rest. Trent was afforded one against Chelsea and, while it is team-wide, the Scot looks mentally and physically drained at the moment – with uncharacteristic errors plaguing his game.
Other than that, the XI who are likely to take to the field against Atletico needs to forget the week that was and build up some momentum and confidence against Bournemouth.