Liverpool travelled to AFC Wimbledon last night in the FA Cup, and emerged from the tie with a 2-1 victory against the League Two side.
Were it not for their captain fantastic Steven Gerrard, however, they might have lost the tie.
The veteran midfielder, who is set to leave the club at the end of the season and move to Major League Soccer, scored the first goal of the game.
Wimbledon then equalised through behemoth Adebayo Akinfenwa, who exploited some dodgy defending from a set piece.
It was up to Gerrard to rescue the tie, and Liverpool’s frequent hero bent home a free kick from just outside the area to send the Reds through to the fourth round of the competition.
Given the relative quality of the opposition, the Anfield club will need to improve in the next round if they want to make any sort of impact on England’s most prestigious cup competition.
Here is why they struggled:
1. Simon Mignolet
Something terrible has happened to Simon Mignolet. He’s bereft of all confidence, and can’t seem to make a correct decision to save his life.
His choices from set pieces last night were particularly poor. He didn’t come for the ball when it was necessary, and came when it wasn’t.
If he keeps up these displays, there is no way Liverpool won’t bring in another keeper in January.
2. Rickie Lambert
Okay, this one isn’t really Lambert’s fault. The Reds struggled to get the ball up to him, and he was forced to drop deep repeatedly to come get the ball.
That shouldn’t be his job, and hinders his ability to impact the game at the end of the pitch that he is at his best – the opposition’s. Liverpool need a goalscorer, and asking him to spend so much of the game away from the penalty area seems a shame.
3. Javier Manquillo
The Atletico Madrid loanee looked relatively solid in defence, but when attacking, he caused his own side problems.
There were a number of times when attacks down the right broke down after the young star passed the ball directly to a Wimbledon player.
However, it was a one off, and he is still developing, so it seems unfair to judge him too harshly on this display.
4. Adebayo Akinfenwa
Nicknamed “The Beast”, this brute of a striker caused the sort of trouble you’d expect to the Liverpool defence.
Time and time again he won the ball in the air ahead of Liverpool’s defenders.
His display served a lesson to the managers of Liverpool’s Premier League rivals – even three centre backs from their stable can’t deal with the presence of a strong target man.