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Liverpool 0-0 Bolton Wanders: Four things we learned

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Raheem Sterling missed several chances as Liverpool were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup fourth round at Anfield on Saturday.

After an afternoon of cup upsets, which included Chelsea and Manchester City going out of the competition, Brendan Rodgers' side looked to capitalise on their rivals' misfortune and book themselves into the fifth round in flying style.

However, the Trotters were resilient throughout the game and goalkeeper Adam Bogdan made a number of high-class saves to deny Sterling, Fabio Borini and Jordan Henderson, forcing a replay to take place at the Macron Stadium.

Saturday's disappointing result highlighted the same weakness that Liverpool have struggled with all season. On Tuesday during their 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the League Cup, Rodgers' side dominated possession and kept the Blues on the back foot but had no end product. Against Bolton, it was a case of deja vu.

Liverpool had 68 per cent of possession throughout the 90 minutes and an incredible 24 shots. For this much dominance in game, it is unbelievable how not a single effort went past Bodgan.

Sterling is still filling in as a striker and his goal against Chelsea was sublime, but his finishing is  still not quite there just yet. He had a great opportunity when he was one-on-one with Bodgan but the youngster hit his effort straight at the goalkeeper instead of chipping his effort over the Bulgarian.

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Borini's effort was finely stopped by the Trotters' 'keeper and Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana were left frustrated when their efforts would not go in.

There was nobody who really wanted to take responsibility when the ball was in dangerous areas, no-one who would have a strike on goal and instead played one more pass which gave the Bolton defence time to recuperate and prepare for the shot.

Daniel Sturridge is set to begin training with the first-team once again this week and that will be an added bonus as he has the ability to score given a half-chance.

Time Up For Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli has missed Liverpool's last two games through illness but was available for Saturday's game, yet wasn't included in Rodgers' 18-man squad. Given the Italian's poor form since he signed for the club in August, scoring just two goals in all competitions, it came as surprise to many that he was not even on the bench.

The Reds were playing a weaker opposition and a goal for Balotelli would do his confidence the world of good which could have potentially seen him really start find his feet on Merseyside. It was not the case and instead, Sterling started up-front with Borini and Rickie Lambert being benched.

With Sturridge returning, you have to wonder where Balotelli's future lies. One cannot help but think that Rodgers has opted against his early season decision and prefers to go with Borini on the bench, once an outcast at Anfield.

There isn't long left in the January transfer window, however if the former Inter Milan striker is not included in Liverpool's squad to face Chelsea on Tuesday night, it would not be surprising if leaves Merseyside days later.

Jose Enrique Could To Join Balotelli

It's not often that Jose Enrique is handed a substitute appearance, never mind a start for Liverpool. He was given the role of playing left-wingback from the first whistle, replacing fellow Spaniard Alberto Moreno who has impressed in recent weeks.

Enrique started brightly and looked determined to make a name for himself, winning a free-kick in a dangerous area and whipping a fizzing cross into the box.

However, as the clock ticked, the former Newcastle United man got worse and became sluggish on the ball, giving it away far too easily and his cross late in the first-half in a good position was poor and sailed into the upper tier of Anfield Road.

That was enough for Rodgers to replace the Spaniard at half-time with Lazar Markovic, repeating what he did to Enrique when he last started against FC Basel in the Champions League.

In the new system of playing three centre-backs and wing-backs, it seems that 29-year-old has lost way an Anfield and with just 18 months left on his current contract, Liverpool may want to gain as much cash as possible for the defender, which could see him leave either this transfer window or the next.

A Replay Liverpool Could Do Without

Drawing against Neil Lennon's side means that the Reds now have to travel to the Macron Stadium for the replay. Since Lennon took charge of Bolton in October, he's completely turned the Lancashire club's form around. The Trotters have become a force under the former Celtic boss and are yet to lose at home since his arrival.

Liverpool have plenty of games approaching from now until May. They still continue their push for a top-four finish which will need all the manpower possible. Add that to a potential League Cup final if they see of Chelsea on Tuesday and they are also in the Europa League.

Injuries is something that Rodgers cannot afford at this stage of the season, especially to one of his top players. Getting a result away at Bolton will be no easy task and the Northern Irishman may be forced to play a strong line-up which adds to the possibility Sterling, Coutinho and maybe even captain Steven Gerrard pick up an injury.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
FA Cup
Bolton Wanderers
Liverpool

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