Liverpool were far from their attack-minded, fluid best in the FA Cup fourth round against Bournemouth, but they had enough to get the job done, qualify for the next round and move on to prepare for the Merseyside derby against Everton on Tuesday.
In amongst the ordinary performances and the intermittent scares presented by Bournemouth, however, were several positives for Brendan Rodgers.
For starters, his side avoided any further injuries, they defended competently and kept a clean sheet despite not playing particularly well overall, and winger Victor Moses produced his best showing in several months to score one and generally look the Reds' best attacking threat for a large part of the game.
Moses' Form and Performance
In all honesty, Moses started his loan career at Anfield in good form; it's been quickly overlooked, but he scored on his debut and started five matches in a row. Unfortunately, his impact nose-dived shortly after arriving and his appearances off the bench have arguably been worse than unhelpful.
Mainly playing from the left flank, Rodgers has hoped to harness his dribbling skills, pace and ability to find the back of the net.
More often, though, Liverpool have gotten lax performances, little work ethic and a very laissez-faire approach to ball retention from the Nigerian.
Against Bournemouth, he was much more aggressive in his play, beat the full-back several times to reach the byline and also scored the all-important first goal.
The Reds are really struggling in midfield, and the back four likely picks itself because of injuries, meaning it will be four from five in attack: Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are certain to start, with Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Moses fighting for either one or two places, depending on the formation.
Sterling and Coutinho have been the two involved of late, and Moses will need to have impressed Rodgers an awful lot to take either of their places.
But should he even be classed as an option to start? Or is his improved performance merely hinting at an option from the bench?
Should Moses be Involved?
Liverpool simply cannot afford a defeat against Everton. Not as a local rival, not as a Champions League rival.
As such, Brendan Rodgers has very little margin for error with his team selection. Fans are unconvinced that a single improved performance from Moses should warrant a return to the team, despite what he can bring.
@karlmatchett imo, not yet. can't judge witth this level of opposition. that said tho, could be decent option off d bench for half an hour— Spab4christ (@spab4christ) January 25, 2014
@karlmatchett Not a chance. First half-decent performance in months. Ok, he got a goal V lower league opposition, but not a derby starter— DamoRed (@DamoRed1) January 25, 2014
@karlmatchett not for me.Sterling still offers more on form.pleased for Victor today though.think he needed that performance.— Dave Wilsher (@dgwilsh) January 25, 2014
Moses' display has to be kept in perspective: it was against Championship opposition, he was allowed space to counter into and he had a bit of a point to prove. Does he have the mentality to do it more regularly from here until the end of the season?
It is likely he will not start the derby—but he could now be Rodgers' first attacking call off the bench.
In that regard, the FA Cup match has been a success for Liverpool in giving them a more in-form player—and in the tight nature of the derby, any offensive advantage could yet count as a great deal of importance.
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