Something isn’t working for Liverpool lately, and things could get worse if Luis Suarez does get hit with a meaningful suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic, adding yet another black mark to his sketchy resume, making you often forget what a wonderful footballer he is, combining with Daniel Sturridge for a fantastic second half display.
It took Brendan Rodgers 45 minutes to see enough of Philippe Coutinho, who didn’t really show his best football playing against a big club for the first time since arriving at Anfield. Maybe it was the slightly more conservative look we saw from the Reds that helped Coutinho look worse than usual, not having the kind of options to connect with he usually does, also finding it hard to fulfill tactical purposes.
The introduction of Sturridge changed the match, even though Chelsea still managed to find another goal through a Luis Suarez handball in the box. Steven Gerrard was suddenly a lot more comfortable and free to push forward, getting less attention, directed at the substitute who made himself felt only 7 minutes after coming on the pitch, connecting with a Luis Suarez cross to score the first equalizer.
In the ending, with Liverpool pressing but failing to create chances against a rather solid Chelsea back-line, it was Suarez himself, scoring his 23rd league goal of the season, which possibly might be his last in 2013 and who knows, maybe for Liverpool. Sturridge was the one who set him up with the score, as the two strikers made sure that a win-less streak is at least consisted of three draws and not three losses. Still, Europe looks further and further from a possibility.
Liverpool play better with two forwards, that has been proved this season, with the current set of players. Now that Suarez will likely be gone for a few matches, Brendan Rodgers needs to find answers that don’t look like the first half in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea, only having Sturridge playing on his own instead of the Uruguayan. He doesn’t really have any options on the bench to use, with Fabio Borini out for the season.
Liverpool are going to miss European football for the second time in three seasons, which is hard to imagine for this club, but that’s the reality. The mistakes that have been made over the years in terms of finances, managerial decisions and changes, not to mention the kind of money spent on certain players leaves them with a limited squad, forcing Steven Gerrard to play every single minute this season while completely relying on the offensive ability of an explosive player who can implode, and has, at any given moment. At some point, someone is going to have to stop this slippery slope, before their relevancy in English football as well is diminished beyond recognition.