Liverpool's all-round failings on show in defeat to Chelsea

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It was a frustrating night for Liverpool fans on Tuesday as their semi-final exit from the Capital One Cup against old foe Chelsea again highlighted the the club's key weaknesses.

There was a small sense of deja vu as, much like in those final games when challenging for the title last season, when the pressure was on, the men asked to keep their heads and deliver the goods once again failed.

Chelsea overcome

The first half at Stamford Bridge had followed much the same pattern as seen at Anfield a week prior with Liverpool having the better chances while Chelsea's main protagonists were largely kept quiet.

But with Raheem Sterling once again showing a major lack of composure once he entered the Chelsea box, it was only a matter of time until Jose Mourinho's side began to enter their stride.

And that was the case in the second half with several good stops and a tremendous last-ditch tackle from keeper Simon Mignolet the only thing keeping Brendan Rodgers' team in the hunt for a second trip to Wembley in four years.

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With Liverpool hanging on, another crucial decision from Rodgers backfired as he deterred from the formula that had worked well in the first 135 minutes of football and brought on Mario Balotelli and later Rickie Lambert to try and turn the tie back in the Reds favour.

Balotelli fails again

Indeed Balotelli, who the manager has said will be given a chance to make a name for himself at the club, again seemed distant and disinterested and it was his two mistakes in the first four minutes of extra-time that was see Lucas give away the free kick and then poor marking gifting Branislav Ivanovic a free header to score the goal that would be the hammer blow to Liverpool's confidence.

The big question certainly on my mind at least is why Adam Lallana was kept on the bench? Given the impact he has continually made since his arrival in the summer, his pace and guile would have probably been far more effective against a tiring Chelsea defence compared to the Italian.

This could be proven by the problems Sterling and Philippe Coutinho consistently caused Chelsea on the counter attack and the England midfielder would have only added to the attacking threat.

Midfield mismanagement

The other key decision Rodgers got wrong was the use of Steven Gerrard, with the 34-year-old playing a reduced number of games as he completes his final five months at the club, surely it would make sense to allow him to do what he has done so well throughout his career and play in an advanced role.

Yes, he had a few shots which were wildly off target during the game but when Liverpool needed their talisman he was back in a more defensive role with Lucas and Jordan Henderson trying to find the spark to grab the late equaliser meaning there was little creativity for those ahead to benefit from.

There have been a couple of experiments that in recent games have appeared to pay off but in the long run are they actually going to work to a high enough standard.

Can Can cope in defence?

The first is Emre Can as part of a back three. Against most sides in the Premier League the German is capable of dealing with most situations, but against the top teams his lack of pace and defensive nous against world class wingers and forwards is leaving Liverpool exposed.

His performance against Eden Hazard was improved compared to a week ago there was still several occasions where better skilled defenders would have dealt with the Belgian better and while his calmness on the ball has helped the defence Liverpool are also missing the extra creativity he has going forward.

Sterling: All pace; no end product

The other is Raheem Sterling in the central striker position. His pace and trickery can cause any defence nightmares but the decision making in the box plus a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal mean Liverpool struggle to score two or more goals a game.

Of course the potency to find the net should be boosted with the return of Daniel Sturridge, who Rodgers admitted was quite unlucky to just not be fit in time for the trip to Stamford Bridge, but in these last few days of the transfer window there has to be moves to sign another top striker who can keep a calm head in front of goal and if that means offloading the likes of Lambert and Balotelli then so be it.

Some may read this and consider it a mere reaction to the disappointing result on Tuesday - and given Liverpool were unbeaten in their last 10 in all competitions it certainly means the team were not playing terribly - but given six of the last 13 games ended in draws and only twice did the Reds score more than two goals, against the sides included in that time, a team with the expectations of Liverpool should be doing better.

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