Liverpool took on Bolton in the 4th round of the FA Cup with both teams looking to make it into the next round. Neil Lennon had transformed a Bolton side which looked like they were relegation candidates from the Championship and has taken them into relative safety. Rodgers rested Steven Gerrard for the game and the starting XI did not feature Balotelli or any Liverpool striker as Daniel Sturridge was still out of the squad as he was returning back to training.
It was an emotional return for Emile Heskey, a former Liverpool player made his comeback to Anfield as he started for the Bolton team hoping to knock out their more illustrious opponents but he could not get his name on the score sheet. Another old player for Liverpool was back at Anfield with Jay Spearing coming on in the 2nd half.
Although Liverpool had the better chances it was Bolton who held on to the score and the match ended 0-0, Bogdan the Bolton keeper did have some good saves but it was an average performance from Liverpool, who will now have to play a replay at Bolton if they want to move to the next round.
We look at the 5 talking points from the game at Anfield.
Neil Lennon has done a remarkable job for Bolton
The former Celtic manager’s decision to join a rock bottom Bolton from the Championship was a rather weird one, especially when he had led Celtic to another Scottish league title but he has transformed the club and has pushed the up the table in the Championship.
Bolton had won 9 of their last 16 games and were brilliant in their display against a team who themselves were unbeaten in 10 showed just how much they have grown. If Lennon continue to do such a stellar job as he has done so far for Bolton, he could be seen managing a level up in the Premier League.
Liverpool were matched by Bolton in the first half
Bolton were fantastic in the game, at least in the first half, they soaked up the Liverpool pressure and barely gave them a chance to break them down while hitting them on the counter as much as possible. Although they did not have the best chances in the first half, they still had half a chance in the game.
In the second half they got tired and were attacked by Liverpool but still held on remarkably well for a team that did not have the best start to the Championship and were expected to be deep in a relegation dog fight. Bolton deserve their plaudits for the performance and this should provide them the boost they need to do better things in the Championship.
Liverpool still missing those fast starts
Liverpool were reliant on Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana to do the business but they just could not break down a dogged and resolute Bolton team. Liverpool still seem to be missing a gear in their attack and were toothless in attack in the first half.
They don’t seem to have that attacking ability that they showed last season and it is hurting them since they can’t get control of games and finish off opponents like last season. This just gives other teams a chance and Bolton were certainly in the game and even had a few good chances. Liverpool need to get those fast starts up again to be able to push for the top 4 spot that they so desperately need.
Can steps up
Ever since Emre Can was signed up by Liverpool, big things were expected out of him but him playing in the 3 man central defence is probably something that Liverpool fans did not expect. The young German did have a history of playing as a central defender but during his last season at Leverkusen he was played more as a defensive midfielder and occasionally chipped in as a left back but his performances as a central defender has made him look like the best defender Liverpool have.
Can has been excellent in his role as a central defender, he is composed on the ball, is quick enough to neutralize an attack and can head the ball well. Liverpool paid around £10 million for the German in the summer and it seems like they are finally getting the best out of him in the 2nd half of the season.
Liverpool have big games coming up and need to perform
Hot and cold can be the words which will describe Liverpool this season. They were brilliant against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final but weren’t at their best against Bolton, now they will have to gear up for the away leg at Stamford Bridge for the league cup and with Chelsea losing in the FA Cup, they could be up for a beating from the Blues.
Liverpool are still in the FA Cup, although they do have to play a replay against Bolton, if they win that they could take on any comers and win the trophy since the likes of Manchester City, Southampton and Chelsea out. This could be the only way for Liverpool to give something back to their legend Steven Gerrard as he ends his career at Liverpool, a cup medal.
Picture courtesy: LiverpoolFc, Sky Sports & the Telegraph