Thirty-five attempts at goal, ten on target, one goal. Liverpool´s inability to score was the reason for elimination from the League Cup. Not bad refereeing, not bad luck, not a fantastic goalkeeper in the Chelsea goal.
And the Reds weren´t the better side over the two semifinals. The Londoners scored twice, Liverpool once so the best team won.
Brendan Rodgers has on numerous occasions claimed that Liverpool was the better team, despite losing. Same tiresome contention yesterday after the 0-1 loss against Chelsea in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal. And he was wrong again. He constantly forgets that the most important thing in football is to score and prevent the opponents from doing that. Not having a lot of chances, not having the bulk of the possession. No team has ever been rewarded with points or trophies because they had created a lot of chances or being superior in possession. So in the football aspects that matter Liverpool was inferior to Chelsea since the latter edged it 2-1 over two legs.
Of course, a way to score goals is to create chances but that is only step one. Step two is to convert them. In that respect Liverpool failed enormously against Chelsea. At Anfield we had 19 attempts at goal and just managed to score once. At Stamford Bridge none of the 16 Red attempts found the net. This is a dismal record.
And the reason is that Liverpool is miserable in the business of shooting and scoring. Same old story yesterday.
Almost everytime a scoring opportunity appears the red player leans backwards and sidefoots the ball. The result is invariably a shot way over the bar or a lame effort not troubling the keeper. This shooting behaviour has Liverpool forced the fans to witness on a regular basis this season. And every player makes the same mistake. Last night Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling and Rickie Lambert did it, previously in other matches Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and even volley specialist Steven Gerrard has performed this amateurish way of shooting.
The right way is to lean over the ball and hit on the volley. Just as Gerrard did in the past, goals versus Olympiakos and West Ham springs to mind. But nowadays he copies his teammates lousy way of hitting the ball. Why does this shooting inability repeat itself time and time again? What does Liverpool players learn from their bad shots? Well, clearly nought, nada, zip. Not a thing. Time to!
Performance-wise Liverpool has been really good in the Chelsea games. At Anfield we dominated completely. In London Liverpool was the better team in the first half but in the second we ran out of steam and the more the game progressed the more likely a Chelsea win became. Liverpool created throughout but hardly anything in extra-time. We then reverted to hoofing the ball, predominantly from the feet of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The Reds were too tired to manage a comeback. The aggressive football and hard work in the first half took its toll.
On the whole the matches against Chelsea has raised hopes of a successful spring. Liverpool has shown that they can live with the best. Now we must get rid of our bad shooting habits. If not, then there is no chance of success in the FA Cup and Europa League and a top four finish in the league.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the League Cup semifinal second leg (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 6.
Made some excellent saves but was as always a bit shaky in the air.
RB Emre Can 3.
Had a hard time controlling Eden Hazard and was not at his best.
CB Martin Skrtel 6.
A determined display. Skrtel was tough in the tackle and always on hand.
LB Mamadou Sakho 4.
Missed some passes in dangerous zones but took care of the physical side of the game.
CM Jordan Henderson 4.
Worked hard but disappeared from time to time. Missed a sitter with his head.
DM Lucas Leiva 5.
Great performance for an hour but tired dramatically and was at fault for several free-kicks, one detrimental.
RM Lazar Markovic 3.
Isn´t really suited to the wing-back role. Largely ineffective.
AM Steven Gerrard 4.
A decent first half but missed too many passes and shots and didn´t track back.
AM Philippe Coutinho 4.
Went missing in the beginning but tried to unlock the Chelsea defence to the bitter end.
LM Alberto Moreno 4.
Ran a lot and was constantly available for a pass. Should have scored.
CF Raheem Sterling 4.
Made some bad decisions that robbed the team of clear-cut chances. Worked hard the whole game.
LB Glen Johnson 3. (Replaced Mamadou Sakho after 57 mins).
No attacking impact, no major defensive mistakes.
CF Mario Balotelli 3. (Replaced Lazar Markovic after 70 mins).
Made a meal of most things but a couple of tricks worked out.
CF Rickie Lambert 2. (Replaced Alberto Moreno after 105 mins).
Didn´t get into the match. Wasted a shot at the end when a cross was on.
In the last three cup games, Chelsea twice and Bolton once, Liverpool has created 59 chances and scored one goal. Things couldn´t be more obvious. We need to train finishing. Two hours a day from now until every player knows how to shoot. Then:
We Go Again.