The two forwards had interlinked well throughout the second-half. Both had been quiet during the first, playing in an unfamiliar system and entering the break on level terms but had found a rhythm, a groove, an understanding.
There was an alternating of dropping deep to collect, pulling wide to attack the full-backs, drifting, causing complications. It was the drifting wide that caused it - the right sided forward dispossessing the left-back and charging to the touchline, whipping a low pass into the box, his partner returning it, making space moving off for the next ball and slotting into the net for the fourth goal in a convincing win.
Unfortunately that was my son’s under-14 game which kicked off at 2pm. If only Liverpool’s afternoon had contained a tenth of the drama.
I didn’t hit Anfield until ten past four, by which time Martin Skrtel had been unconscious for what appears to have been the best part of eight minutes, stretchered off and replaced by Kolo Toure, the victim of a wildly flailing arm by Blackburn’s Gestede; one of those arms that fly when you’re leaping for a header, the ones that are there to ‘gain a bit of purchase’ on your jump. The ones that you can never prove were there to take out the defender but leave you still fairly sure, particularly when the player’s other major contribution is to kick Sterling in the chest in our penalty area.
An aside at that point: loved the witless, hapless, clueless Robbie Savage attempting to turn the obvious assault on Sterling into a hotly disputed penalty shout for Blackburn on last night’s Match Of The Day. Whatever the BBC is paying this idiot, I’ll do it for half; the analysis will improve a thousandfold and my haircut is far less ridiculous.
The loss of Skrtel was telling. Loss in general was telling. No Joe Allen to turn the cogs in midfield as he has recently so Emre Can pushes forward to replace him. No Emre Can to carry the ball from the back three so we draft in Glenn Johnson to look occasionally interested and then blame the pitch. No forward thrust from the back, no creation, nothing happening. Our recent form has been predicated on an impressive back three of Skrtel, Sakho and Can offering a blend of solidity and dynamism. A back three of Lovren, Johnson and Toure was/is far less convincing.
Blackburn set up well, cut off our lines of supply and smothered any football that we tried to play. Which is cool, that’s their job. Our job was to create, to probe, to break down. Too many passes went astray, too many runs saw the ball held rather than moved on, too many crosses were over-hit or under-hit. Toure netted with a fine finish, lovely technique for a centre-back; he was offside. Allan had a clear penalty waved away by the useless-as-ever Andre Marriner but the big issue was that we failed to create enough.
We looked tired, looked leggy, looked heavy. We looked a shadow of our recent selves. Possibly something to do with playing approximately 36 games in the last fortnight. Or something. This going to the match every three days has been fantastic but the eight day gap until the Swansea away game is an absolute necessity at the moment. Time to regroup, time to get a few players back off the treatment table.
Brilliantly, the quarter-final replay now appears to be taking place the week before the semi-finals. You obviously can’t underestimate the way that Blackburn have performed against Premier League opponents at Ewood Park but equally, you can’t see them threatening us as much as our lesser compatriots.
Still in the hat then but we really need to create something next time we meet. An entertaining game would be a start.