By Michael Hann
Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League all but ended on Sunday after a 1-1 draw at Premier League title winners Chelsea epitomised a season of shortcomings.
Liverpool went behind after five minutes at Stamford Bridge when John Terry headed Chelsea in front but Steven Gerrard grabbed an equaliser when he nodded home just before half-time.
Brendan Rodgers’ men huffed and puffed in search of a winner to close the gap on fourth-placed Manchester United, who won 2-1 at Crystal Palace on Saturday, but had to settle for a point.
With two games remaining, Liverpool have 62 points from 36 matches, six behind Louis van Gaal’s United who also boast a better goal difference (+25 to +11).
“I think we got off to an awful start. A disappointing goal from our perspective,” Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“We got ourselves back into the game, a good header from Stevie, and I thought in the second half we were outstanding, we just lacked that bit of quality in the final third.
“It’s happened too much this season. We’ve started games poorly and we’ve been punished for it.”
Liverpool scored 101 Premier League goals last term, with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez netting 52 between them to help the Merseysiders finish runners-up to Manchester City.
However, Rodgers could not find a suitable replacement for Suarez following his move to Barcelona, while Sturridge has missed large parts of the season with persistent injuries.
Fellow forwards Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini have all been below par at Anfield as Liverpool failed to build on last season’s success.
Captain and talisman Gerrard will join LA Galaxy at the end of the season and the 34-year-old former England skipper said the club must bolster their ranks with new signings.
“We’ve shown we’ve come up a bit short. I think it’s important the lads get some rest, the owners try and dig deep and help Brendan out,” Gerrard told Sky Sports.
“There’s a great core of players here. This league is getting more and more difficult every year. We lost Suarez, we haven’t had Daniel Sturridge, it’s been tough.”
Rodgers agreed his squad lacks strength in depth.
“We are missing three in Suarez, Sturridge and young John Flanagan,” he told the BBC.
“The players we have had have given everything but we are fifth and that’s probably where we are at the moment.”