Liverpool fans today will be having mixed feelings about today's result between Everton and Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal's team were blown away against the Toffees who won 3-0 at Goodison Park to inflict back to back defeats for Louis Van Gaal's team. Whilst Liverpool fans will be revelling in the defeat to Manchester United against their city rivals, they will also be thinking about what could have been with regards to the result yesterday against West Bromwich Albion.
Liverpool failed to make ground on the top four which, if they can scrap into it, would salvage what has been a pretty forgettable season. The loss to Aston Villa last week in the FA cup semi-final summed up the 'what could have been' sense that is currently the fan attitude to the club. With mass change over the summer last year, Liverpool have failed to find the winning formula that brought them so close to winning the Premier League last season.
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The loss of Luis Suarez, the constant injures to Daniel Sturridge and the failure of Mario Balotelli has meant that Liverpool have lacked the goal threat that was so potent for them last year. Raheem Sterling has done some good work to try and get Liverpool firing again but he is not a striker and has been under a shadow of scrutiny from fans and the media alike with regards to his contract situation.
The lack of composed finishing saw Liverpool play out a goalless draw against West Brom yesterday. Despite having 74% possession and 22 shots at goal with five on target, with Jorban Ibe hitting the bar, Liverpool were toothless. Mario Balotelli started his first game since February and show why, contributing next to nothing to the game which ended up with him being replaced by Fabio Borini after 75 minutes.
Steven Gerrard also started the game and looked a passenger for most of it, slowing the pace of the game down which worked to West Brom's advantage as it doesn't suit the playing style Brendan Rodgers successfully implemented last year.
This coupled with the lack of goal scoring midfielders that teams such as Arsenal have that can score 10+ goals a season made Liverpool look all the further away from a top 4 side. Despite Brendan Rodgers arguing that Liverpool 'were outstanding', he admitted that the 'goals had been missing all season' and yesterday was no exception.
This goes on with the theme of 'what could have been' for Liverpool. Winning yesterday coupled with United's defeat would mean that the Liverpool would go into their game in hand knowing winning would put them one point off the top four. This was picked up by The Independent's Ian Herbert who highlighted on Twitter the significance of United's loss to Liverpool's advantage.
If they had won yesterday, it would have made things a lot easier for Liverpool. They do have a chance; a slim one but a chance nonetheless. Calls for Rodgers to be sacked have rightly fallen on death ears as, far as American owners FSG are concerned, he is the main man for them and he deserves this summer to get things right. Liverpool will be going through enough as it is with the loss of Gerrard, who despite his recent form, is still a major icon to the club. Sacking a manager as well as Gerrard's departure would bring unneeded instability to the club which is no good for anyone. However, failure to correct what is so clearly lacking in Liverpool's game could see Rodgers out of a job.
Liverpool don't need major reconstructing in the summer. They need to offload the deadwood within the squad by ridding of Balotelli, Borini and Lambert upfront. Divock Origi is coming in from Lille and looks a real talent but they need an out and out striker who isn't so susceptible to injury as Sturridge has been this season. This seems to have finally got to Rodgers as his tone towards the England striker in recent weeks has been of frustration and irritation at the fact he is out for the rest of the season.
Liverpool should have gambled in January and should have brought in another striker though it is understandable why they didn't as Rodgers arguably wanted to see if Balotelli would start producing the goals that Liverpool have been lacking. Yesterday highlighted why Liverpool need to get rid of him in the summer. Today's result will give hopefully some players the motivation to try and finish the season and that they don't squander the chance to close on the top 4 that has been given to them by their city rivals today.