Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher watched Liverpool lose to Blackpool again from the stands Wednesday night, and it was clear from their faces that they knew exactly what the team was missing: them. And next, the Reds have to play the Merseyside Derby without a Scouser in the lineup.
Carragher has been sidelined since the Nov. 28 defeat at Tottenham, and the defense has clearly missed his tenacity and leadership. The Reds are fortunate to have Daniel Agger fit again, but his partnership with Martin Škrtel has been shaky at best. Compile that with Glen Johnson's tendency to wander and the perpetual question mark at left-back, and it's no surprise the Reds have let in 12 goals in the nine games without Carra.
Gerrard has two more games in his three-game ban after receiving a red card from Howard Webb (now he's giving reds?) against Manchester United, as the Reds went out of the FA Cup Sunday. Liverpool's midfield was easily out-muscled by Blackpool, and they struggled to keep the ball. When the Reds did manage to keep the ball and get to the 18-yard box, Milan Jovanavic was a poor replacement for Gerrard, as he could never quite find that incisive pass.
Dirk Kuyt also had one of those nights when his touch just never came, so Fernando Torres was left all alone up front after he had given the Reds a dream start with a wonderful finish three minutes into the match.
The Reds cannot afford to perform the way they did last night this weekend against Everton. The Toffees easily defeated their rivals back in October at Goodison in what was the first game under the new ownership of John Henry. Though results of late are no different than in October (a 2-1 loss to Blackpool at Anfield preceded the Derby), the Reds should have a different attitude.
The fans are firmly behind Kenny Dalglish, but last night's result will have showed them that the squad is Liverpool's biggest problem. They won't have Carra to scream at them or Gerrard to rescue them on the pitch, so the Reds will actually have to play with real passion for the full 90 minutes. Or else, Everton could secure its first win at Anfield since Sept. 1999 and its first double over the Reds since 1984-85.