There will of course be fans who will berate J Klopp for playing an under-strength team in the game against West Ham. But the fact remains that we don’t have the squad necessary to play so many games competitively. And furthermore, even with this supposedly under-strength team we were arguably still the better team and had C Benteke not miss those two glorious chances eight minutes into extra-time, one of which was again a one-on-one opportunity against just the keeper, we would be celebrating our youngsters’ great feat. So while i am unhappy with the result i am pleased with the very young team’s effort.
I know many people feel that J C Teixiera should be given more chances in our first team but i beg to differ. He does wow with some nice touches and good skills but in general he doesn’t have much of an end-product. To make things worse his stamina is so poor. In the games he has played in the cup so far he has never really lasted more than an hour by which time he is hardly contributing to the team. Another issue is the lack of aggression. His pressing is very poor. Oftentimes he is just jogging towards the defender. That is not pressing. That is having a jog in the park on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You can do that if you are a proven game-changer, when everytime you get the ball the opponent is immediately on the back-foot because they know just how dangerous you are. The team can carry this one maverick knowing that he will pop up from nowhere to create a goal. I’m sorry if it’s too harsh on a youngster but Teixiera is nowhere near that standard. I suppose we can give him a bit more time to improve but at the moment i am not too optimist of his chances at Liverpool.
Talking about game-changers, we finally got to see D Sturridge back in action in our liverbird red jersey. Even after being out injured for so long Sturridge still brings an immediate threat to our attack. His touches were good and our attack looked much more dangerous with him on the field. At one point in extra-time he almost dribbled through the entire West Ham defense in their penalty box for the winner. Let’s hope he can stay fit finally because he is definitely our best striker. With Sturridge at the top and P Coutinho and R Firmino floating just behind him in a front three, our attack would be pretty scary.
On the other-hand the performance of K Steward in the middle of the field was pretty encouraging. He showed good tenacity protecting our backline and kept the ball moving with short simple passes. B Smith was also again pretty good in attack although his defending can definitely be improved just like A Moreno. He arguably should have been tighter on M Antonio at the far post in the 44th minute for West Ham’s first goal. But what a beautiful piece of technique by Antonio to side-foot volley the ball first time into the far corner. But on the other end, Smith was a constant attacking threat with his eager overlapping runs which continued even into extra-time. So he has a good pair of lungs on him. In the 26th minute he made a great run to support Coutinho down the left and sent a cross in which resulted in Teixiera getting in a shot. In the 55th minute he also showed great strength to get his cross in under pressure from the West Ham defenders after neat linkup play with Benteke. And i thought the Hammers were lucky there because the ball was hit with such venom into the crowded penalty box that it could easily have gone into the back of the net off a defender. Either way i’m sure we would get to see more of Smith playing in the league from now on.
Our captain for the day Lucas L started at centerback again and as J Carragher said, he was pretty solid. He passed the ball out of defense really well and more importantly, he did a really good job organising the players in defense. Whisper it softly but could he be the leader we need in defense?
Lastly, i really want to see one of our players make a crunching tackle on an opponent and follow-through with the studds out or maybe go up for a header with elbows out. Because at the moment our team is like a litter of jumpy kittens. We need to be more aggressive in our play! In the 84th minute, West Ham hit a long ball into our penalty box which S Mignolet did well to punch away from an offside A Carroll. But Mignolet was such a gentleman really and he jumped with his knees down. If that was ex-Arsenal keeper J Lehman you can be sure he would have gone in with one of his knees raised so that he leaves a big ugly bruise in Carroll’s back. Let the burly striker know clearly that the penalty box is our house and nobody can just take a stroll in it without our permission. In the second half, P Chirivella was fouled and J O’Brien stood over him on purpose to prevent the freekick from being taken. Just take a goal kick at his face and follow through with studds out! It’s fine if you don’t want to move back but i sure hope you enjoyed the ball in your face and my studds in your knee. Which of course is an accident but you were too close to our freekick weren’t you, you son of a sleepy sloth!