Heading into the FA Cup tie against Arsenal at the Emirates, Brendan Rodgers was unequivocal about his intentions for the match: he wanted to win, because winning trophies is what Liverpool FC is all about. The seven-time FA Cup winners fell short of Rodgers' desired outcome, and the manager felt his team should have eked out at least a draw based on their overall effort.
"I thought the best team lost," Rodgers said of his team's performance. "I thought the very least we deserved was a replay. We probably should have been 2-0 up inside those first six or seven minutes. Going forward we were outstanding. I'm disappointed with the goals, the first one in particular was just a long ball into the box.
"But, apart from that, going forward we were a real a threat and are bitterly disappointed not to get something. Now we have got one competition to focus on for the rest of the season and have to really focus on these last 12 league games."
Liverpool's away form has not been up to scratch this season, and although the result certainly falls in line with that assessment, the quality of the performance did at least show a tremendous growth since the club's first visit to the Emirates way back in November. This time around, Liverpool never looked out of the match and, as Rodgers noted, even looked poised to stage a comeback despite going down 2-0.
Crashing out of a cup competition is always disappointing on some level, and for none more so than the players themselves. Daniel Sturridge in particular seemed incredibly gutted by Liverpool's failure to advance, and it's a melancholy reminder that although much of the magic of the FA Cup seems to have disappeared for many fans, it's still alive and well for those who actually play the matches.
With their season reduced to competing on a single front from now until May, Liverpool will have ample time between matches to recover, train, and realign in preparation for each weekend's festivities. Twelve matches is not exactly a robust number of games in which to gain an impressive edge over their competitors in the top four, but if Liverpool can continue to play the way they have in the last week — grinding out wins and improving away performances — there could be some surprises come the end of the season.