Reds Dealt Hammer Blow In Cup

Knocked out of the FA Cup in the final minute of extra time, it's a tough way to go out but the Reds only have themselves to blame after missing chance after chance after chance on Tuesday night. Luckily there was nothing too exciting on display as Jurgen Klopp had been instructed to remain calm following an operation to remove his appendix. Liverpool however did look positive initially but things began to crumble as West Ham grew into the game, despite playing for 120 minutes, the Reds just never really found a way back.

Image via Christian Benteke visibly frustrated as Liverpool fail to take advantage.

West Ham Volley

The Irons found the back of the net at the perfect time as Michail Antonio struck a wonderful volley on the stroke of half time. There was little Simon Mignolet could do and it was a well deserved goal for West Ham who had been building pressure on the Liverpool defence.

As with several games this season, Klopp's side once again had failed to capitalise on some positive play, it wasn't as though we were lacking in chances, we just cannot seem to find the back of the net. Players like Coutinho, Chirivella and Teixeira were all linking up well but as usual, the final product just wasn't there.

The Magician

Some persistence from the Reds finally paid off just three minutes into the second half when Christian Benteke was brought down just outside the box. Coutinho was all over this free kick but I didn't expect him to find his flow so quickly after returning to the starting XI. His cheeky free kick reminded me of the Fabio Aurelio one in the Champions League against Chelsea. It was the kind of set piece that you shouldn't dare to try and get away with but Coutinho guessed right that the wall would jump and slotted home an important equaliser for the Reds.

Fabio Aurelio's free kick against Chelsea.

Return of Daniel Sturridge

One real positive from the game for Liverpool fans was the return of Daniel Sturridge, the forward has been missing from the line up since the start of December but he definitely showed signs of his old self after entering play just before the hour mark on Tuesday evening.

Some skillful ball control saw him fluster the West Ham defence on several occasions but unfortunately the number 15 was never really presented with a solid chance at goal. A few long range efforts spun wide but overall it was a promising display. Sturridge also ended up with more game time than Klopp may have planned which can only be good for him in my opinion, I hope he makes the start against Villa on Sunday.

Christian Benteke Confidence

It's no secret that the Belgian has been struggling up front for Liverpool but on Tuesday evening it was evident that Benteke is having a bit of a crisis. In the first half he was unable to position himself correctly and aside from a few half chances was unable to stamp his mark on the game. 

In the second half he began to fair a bit better especially with the introduction of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi who allowed Benteke to change his focus slightly. He saw powerful headers saved and shots trickle off target but perhaps the most unforgiving was his one on one chance with the keeper. He's been in a few of these situations in recent months and every single time he's smashed the ball straight at the keeper and I'm afraid he just has to do better. Confidence plays a real part here though and for me, if Benteke had a few goals behind him he would have slotted that chance home.

Despite all the criticism and despite the fact I never really wanted Benteke in the first place, I still find myself feeling very sympathetic. Christian Benteke has never been known for his pacey or weaving runs into the box and so it always amazes me when people just expect him to make these moves into the box. He won't, he never has done, it's not the kind of player he is and the board and Brendan Rodgers knew that when they signed him. You don't buy a player like that and expect him to change, it's far too late for the moulding of his style. I'm afraid you just have to accept that he's a bit of a slow reactor, the big man up front who sometimes plods into the right place at the right time and when he does it's brilliant, when he doesn't he will be absolutely berated by everyone and their mother.

Next up for Liverpool is Aston Villa away on Sunday.