OpinionJohn Aldridge

Reds can't let the season fade away

A dejected Coutinho following the game at the Emirates
A dejected Coutinho following the game at the Emirates

THERE is a real danger that Liverpool’s season could end up as something of a disaster if they follow up their thumping defeat at Arsenal with an FA Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Blackburn on Wednesday night.

I was gutted with the manner of the performance and the final scoreline in a game that Liverpool knew they dare not lose at the Emirates.
 
It wasn’t good enough against Arsenal, as it wasn’t against Manchester United in their last match and as a result, the dreams of a top-four finish are now gone. What a shame. Some may still have hopes of catching United and Arsenal in the race for a Champions League finish, but it isn’t happening, I’m sorry to write.
 
The truth is Liverpool gave themselves far too much to do after their horrible start to the season and while they had a good go at dragging it back, they have come up short in the end.
 
Amid the huge disappointment being felt by all Liverpool fans, I would urge you all to take a step back and not panic too much about the hugely disappointing end to the push for a top four place.
 
Yes it’s a nightmare to see Manchester United finishing ahead of Liverpool again, but this is not a moment to turn on Brendan Rodgers or his team. Let’s focus all our energies now on getting through FA Cup replay at Blackburn, seeing off Aston Villa in the semi-finals and ending this season by winning a trophy at Wembley.
 
As a send-off to Steven Gerrard, lifting the FA Cup would still make this a season to remember and yet it seems hard to imagine such a scenario amid the despair I am feeling right now.
 
The concern for me is that Brendan might struggle to raise spirits because Liverpool have gone from a team that no-one wanted to face to a side who look vulnerable again at both ends of the pitch.
 
There wasn’t much in the first half of the game against Arsenal, but they have more players who can finish off a chance than we do and that was decisive in the outcome of the match.
 
If the visitors had scored the first goal, the whole occasion would have had a very different tone and the outcome could have been reversed. What happened was Arsenal were given the space they like to work their passing moves and they were clinical in their finishing.
 
Fair play to Arsene Wenger because he is going to guide his club back into the Champions League for a 17th successive season and that is a record every club in Europe would be envious of. His critics will have to shut up for a few months now.
 
As for Liverpool, their horrible day was made worse by Emre Can’s red card, which was almost as big a blow as the defeat because that could have an impact on the outcome at Blackburn.
 
Brendan is going to have to re-arrange his defensive three now and that could cause problems in a side whose confidence has been jolted by their last two matches.
 
I guess Dejan Lovren will step in to replace Can and he hasn’t inspired with confidence too often this season, with Daniel Sturridge’s fitness also becoming vital over the next few days.
 
No more ifs and buts, this season is now certain to be seen as a disappointment for Liverpool as they will not be finishing in the top four and the only way some pride can be salvaged is with a victory in the FA Cup final on Gerrard’s birthday on May 30 at Wembley.
 
Having belief is not so easy when you have seen Liverpool surrender so feebly in the last couple of matches.
 
But Rodgers has to find a way to get his players firing again in double-quick time