Chelsea 1 – 1 Liverpool

Super Studge Rescues a Point

Before the game, I wanted nothing less than three points and for to continue our perfect start to the season. By the 88th minute though, I would’ve bitten your hand off for a draw.

Liverpool had the majority of chances throughout the game, but Eden Hazard only needed one to cooly put the hosts in front.

Daniel Sturridge’s outrageous strike from distance in the 89th minute saved the Reds from their first defeat in the league. Thanks to him, we take on Manchester City next week only behind on goal difference.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 9:

Some have argued that the Brazilian ‘keeper hadn’t been truly tested yet, despite the hype surrounding him. Those arguments no longer have a leg to stand on.

Alisson made many strong saves, catches, and clearances throughout the game, including two unbelievable efforts to deny Willian and Hazard when they were in the clear. He could do nothing to stop Chelsea’s goal as Hazard expertly buried it in the far corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5:

Trent’s main problem was that he kept getting caught out pushing too far up the pitch. Ordinarily, I’d praise the young lad for being so brave, but a more conservative approach was required on a day when he needed to shackle Hazard.

Unfortunately, he was mostly unimpressive when attacking as well. The majority of his crosses were utterly wayward and led to nothing.

Joe Gomez – 8.5:

Gomez had another cracking game where he looked completely unfazed by the quality of players running at him.

There were times when his teammates started to panic, but Joe consistently and calmly cleaned up at the back and got the ball moving again quickly.

Virgil van Dijk – 9:

VVD, like Gomez and Alisson, was responsible for denying Chelsea some excellent opportunities to seal all three points.

There had been rumblings that the big Dutchman hadn’t quite been at his dominant best this season and his recent rib injury further complicated matters. However, he more than silenced any remaining doubters with a vintage and commanding performance.

Andrew Robertson – 6:

Robbo had an increasingly rare, sub-par, performance in a Reds shirt in this game, and seemed flustered by the occasion and the pressure of having to come from behind.

Like Trent, he went AWOL at times and let Willian run free at Alisson. However, he could’ve been a hero if Xherdan Shaqiri converted from Robbo’s perfect low cross.

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Jordan Henderson – 4:

When he’s not playing at his best, Hendo can be an easy target for Reds fans. Many have questioned whether he should still be at the club, let alone be wearing the armband.

I believe these criticisms are too harsh. However, it’s undeniable that he had a poor game. His decisions were consistently baffling, giving away cheap passes to the opposition or passing backwards in the middle of a counter-attacking move.

Gini Wijnaldum – 5:

It’s strange that Gini played ahead of Hendo in this game, considering he’s been playing so well in the holding role.

Gini failed to influence the game in any meaningful way, and like Robbo, he looked nervous as the game went on.

James Milner – 7:

In the wake of the game, many have said that Milner was just as culpable of not influencing the game. I strongly disagree.

Granted, there were a couple of times where his final ball let him down, but he created chances for his teammates, including selflessly crossing to Bobby Firmino, only for the Brazilian to head into the path of David Luiz.

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Mo Salah – 6:

Same again for Salah. Excellent movement, brilliant chances, tame finishing. We all know he’s just one good game from being back to his confident best, but we needed that to happen in this game.

Salah had a host of chances to put Liverpool in front but simply could not do so, and apart from being denied by a covering Antonio Rudiger, he didn’t really come close.

Sadio Mane – 6:

Mane probably didn’t do enough to help his team win the game. The headlines will all be about Salah’s chances, but Mane isn’t in top form either at the moment.

Having said that, Mane bamboozled the Chelsea defence on one occasion and forced Kepa into a difficult low-save just before the hour mark.

Bobby Firmino – 6:

Bobby’s primary influence in the game was harassing Jorginho as he tried to pull strings from the deep.

Aside from that, he wasn’t at his creative best in attack, and missed a glorious chance to level the scores after Milner provided him with a beautiful cross. Bobby’s header didn’t have much wrong with it, Luiz just had the presence of mind to be in the perfect position to deny him.

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Subs

Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Salah 66′) 7:

Missed a sitter to level the scores soon after coming on, but at least he caused issues for Chelsea.

Naby Keita – (on for Henderson 78′) 8:

Looked hungry to make a difference in his short time on the pitch. Many fans will be calling for him to start instead of Hendo for the City game.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Milner 86′) (Man of the Match) 10:

What a strike. For the second time this season Sturridge scored with one of his first touches of the ball. He’s going to have a big say over Liverpool’s success this season.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Joel Matip, and Fabinho.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

It’s difficult to give Klopp a rating for this game. His starting lineup wasn’t terrible; however, many would’ve liked to have seen Keita start over Hendo.

Regardless, the midfield failed to step up to the challenge, and both fullbacks were consistently caught out. Klopp adjusted these aspects though and ended up rescuing a result.

All three subs made a real difference and were brought in at a reasonably proactive time, but Keita and Sturridge might’ve been brought on sooner in hindsight.

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Talking Points

Subs Changed the Game

The latest trend that’s changing at Liverpool is the use of substitutions. Previously, even under Klopp, it’s been typical that the quality of the bench is shocking, and they’re never brought on with enough time to change the game.

In the last few games though, Klopp has started to buck this trend, and he did so to great effect in this game. Shaqiri, Keita, and of course Sturridge, all helped Liverpool assert their dominance and achieve a result that for large portions of the game seemed out of reach.

This could prove to be a crucial aspect in Liverpool’s title challenge as we can now change games that aren’t going the way we want them to.

Misfiring Salah

Salah is a magnificent player. That hasn’t changed. You can see it in his movements and his ability to create chances, but his finishing is badly letting him down.

That fact is affecting his confidence, which hurts his finishing further, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whenever he’s through on goal, it’s not just that he keeps trying to cut back onto his stronger left foot, Salah’s taking a few touches too many because he doesn’t have the self-belief to bury it.

We can all see the problem, but what is the solution? We need him at his best, and dropping him wouldn’t exactly do his confidence much good. Let’s hope for a big performance next week.

A Good Point

Manchester City are now ahead of us on goal difference. It’s a shame, but in reality, it’s not a big deal right now.

City have had a much easier start to the season. Their biggest games so far have been: beating a poor Arsenal side who hadn’t adapted to Unai Emery’s style yet, drawing to Wolves, and being comfortably beaten by Lyon. That’s it.

Liverpool on the other hand have had good results from: Tottenham away, PSG at home, and now Chelsea away. Of course, this doesn’t mean next’s week game against City becomes any less important, but we as fans need to maintain some level of perspective during this time.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 30/09/2018

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Chelsea vs Liverpool – Preview

Rematch at Stamford Bridge

After the minor disappointment of going out of the Carabao Cup the Reds will be seeking revenge against Chelsea in the league.

Both teams will be fielding close to their strongest XI’s on the day, so there can be no excuses for failing to turn up.

This is Liverpool’s greatest test in the league so far, aside from the win away at Tottenham, as Chelsea are only two points behind us on the table, level with Manchester City.

Chelsea – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Chelsea will welcome back a host of their key players as well as a couple of players returning from injury.

Antonio Rudiger and Pedro need to be assessed closer to kick-off before a decision is made over their fitness, but at this stage ti appears that Rudiger will play will Pedro might be restricted to a role from the bench.

The only other considerations are that Andreas Christensen will likely miss the game through illness, while either Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata could start the game up top.

Liverpool – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Liverpool will field a vastly different starting lineup to the one that lost at home to the Blues in the cup.

It was revealed that Virgil van Dijk had missed training this week as he nurses bruised ribs, and Klopp confirmed he was a doubt. However, van Dijk posted a message on Instagram which suggested that he will be ready.

In the event that he isn’t, either Dejan Lovren, or more likely, Joel Matip will take his place. Klopp also has a decision to make over his midfield three as James Milner looks fatigued, while Jordan Henderson failed to impress midweek.

Pre-Game Analysis

The key aspect in this game will be how well Liverpool’s defence are able to deal with the dangerous Eden Hazard.

If the Belgian is allowed the freedom and space he was afforded after he came on in the cup game, then he has the quality to make us pay. However, if we can lock him down, cut off is supply, and force Cheslea to go down the opposite wing, then we should be able to score goals of our own and win.

Chelsea’s defence are no pushovers though, but with Jorginho shielding the defence it’s unlikely he will be able to give the centre-backs the protection they’ll require, so Liverpool could produce most of their chances through the middle.

Prediction

If Liverpool’s defence can perform to the levels which they have been is previous league games, then we should be able to contain Hazard most of the time.

Likewise, if the midfield reaches their previous heights, then Chelsea could easily become overrun, providing ample opportunities for our front men to score.

I think that it will be a tight and toughly contested game, but one that ends in a well-earned 2-1 victory for Liverpool.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 29/09/2018

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Liverpool 1 – 2 Chelsea

Reds Bow Out of Carabao Cup

This result brought out mixed emotions for Liverpool fans. Some are disappointed to lose to a rival and miss another chance for silverware, but many are viewing this as a blessing in disguise.

As predicted in the preview, Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri elected to rotate their squads. Both sides produced a few decent chances in the first half, but it wasn’t until the second that the game truly came to life.

Daniel Sturridge pounced on a rebound to score with an overhead kick, putting the hosts in front. But a sloppy set-piece goal from Emerson followed by an incredible goal by Eden Hazard sealed what was ultimately a fair result on the day.

Player Ratings

Simon Mignolet – 7:

Mignolet made a few strong saves throughout the game to keep his side in it, including one from point-blank range to deny Alvaro Morata in the first half.

He couldn’t do anything about Hazard’s powerful and precise finish, and did well to save the initial header which led to the equaliser.

Nathaniel Clyne – 6:

Clyne did relatively well on his first competitive start for what feels like an age considering he had to contend with Willian while maintaining his own duties as an attacking fullback.

A good ball over the top for Sturridge was the highlight of his day, but he clearly didn’t do enough to displace Trent Alexander-Arnold from the starting lineup.

Joel Matip – 6.5:

The big Cameroonian wasn’t quite as good this time out but he still put in a decent shift. Although, he could’ve been more authoritative for the set-piece goal.

Matip and Dejan Lovren probably shouldn’t play together as they need one of Joe Gomez or Virgil van Dijk beside them as a calming influence and to cover for their lack of pace.

Dejan Lovren – 5:

Lovren didn’t do himself any favours in trying to reestablish himself as a first-choice centre-back, although he will need time to shake off the rust.

Overall he had a poor game, allowing himself to be turned numerous times by a player struggling for confidence in Morata, and his positional sense was severely lacking throughout.

Alberto Moreno – 3:

Oh boy. Simply put, Andy Robertson is in no danger of losing his starting place. Moreno looked completely out of his depth against Victor Moses, whereas Robbo dealt with Kylian Mbappe with relative ease.

Left-back is possibly the only position where depth is still lacking. Moreno isn’t even good enough for our ‘B-Team’ anymore.

Fabinho – 6:

A six might even be a bit generous here. Fabinho was virtually absent for most of the half, but in fairness, he did gradually grow into the game.

Fans would be foolish to write him off already though as he will undoubtedly become a tremendous asset once he gets through this bedding-in process.

James Milner – 6.5:

Milner was visibly frustrated with his midfield partners at times, as he has become used to the fluidity of the first team and how most movements are second-nature.

Milly fatigued badly as the game went on. He’ll need to be rotated carefully in the coming busy period.

Naby Keita – 7:

Keita had a few sloppy moments throughout the game, but overall his influence was a positive one. His skills were on show, but like Fabinho, he needs more time to settle in.

He made space for himself in the midfield and tested his luck with a few shots on goal. Encouraging stuff from the new signing; you get the sense that a big performance and the confidence that comes with it will be the spark he needs to really get rolling.

Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 7.5:

Shaqiri was involved in almost every attacking play that Liverpool produced and should’ve had an assist after playing Sturridge through with a wonderful pass.

He had a few wild shots blaze high and wide, but that’s to be expected from a confident player who backs himself from distance when a passing option isn’t on.

Sadio Mane – 7:

Some might argue that Mane should’ve been rested, or at least substituted earlier. In any case, his movement was terrific as usual, and he did cause the Chelsea defence some real headaches on several occasions.

He probably should’ve scored when he headed a beautiful cross straight into the arms of Willy Caballero, but it wasn’t the easiest of chances.

Daniel Sturridge – 7:

What a strange day for Studge. First he missed a sitter, then he scored an overhead kick, and finally, he hit the crossbar.

On occasions, his touch was slightly off, but it was another solid game for him overall. He even showed some nous with his pressing in the second half.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – (on for Milner 58′) 5.5:

Hendo couldn’t influence the game as much as Milner had done previously. It’s questionable if this performance warrants a starting berth on the weekend.

Bobby Firmino – (on for Mane 71′) 6:

Bobby came on at the worst possible time as he tried in vain to battle against the turning tide.

Mo Salah – (on for Fabinho 89′) N/A:

Not enough time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Kamil Grabara, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones, and Dominic Solanke.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

Klopp rotated well, and he knew that throwing the kids to the lions was not the way to go given the strength of Chelsea’s lineup.

He rallied the troops in the second half to a seemingly positive effect but could do little about the individual errors which ultimately cost his side the win.

He used his substitutions at appropriate times, although it’s arguable that Mane should’ve been brought off sooner for preservation, and Salah could’ve come on straight after Hazard put the visitors in front.

Talking Points

Tough Result – We Go Again

On the balance of play, Chelsea probably deserved the win. However, Liverpool had plenty of chances themselves, and on another day the result could’ve been quite different.

That’s what Reds fans will be hoping for on the weekend when we play them again at Stamford Bridge. Klopp himself acknowledged the importance of the league fixture and how his side will take lessons into it.

“We left too many spaces open and stuff like that, [where] they could play between the lines, [but] we already had bigger chances. They were not really a big threat, I would say. More and more we got used to it.”

Negatives of Bowing Out

Aside from the most obvious negative being us only winning the treble this season, the biggest problem is that certain fringe players miss another chance to rack up precious minutes.

The likes of Keita, Fabinho, Shaqiri, and Sturridge would’ve benefited greatly from these extra games to allow them to integrate more quickly.

Likewise, with a potentially easier draw in the next round, Curtis Jones, Dominic Solanke, Nat Phillips, and Rafa Camacho could’ve been given an opportunity to shine.

Benefits of Bowing Out

The Carabao Cup is securely the fourth most important piece of silverware that was up for grabs this season, so missing out doesn’t sting too badly.

It means fewer midweek games to plan around, and fewer minutes stacked up by tired legs. All of our rivals, aside from Manchester United (thanks to Harry Wilson), have to play at least one more game than us, but only one can win it.

In some ways, this is the best time to go out. We didn’t embarrass ourselves by losing to a championship side with an inexperienced manager. We went out to a good team at the earliest possible chance. This is nowhere near as bad as playing several more games and being knocked out in the semis.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – on 27/09/2018

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Liverpool vs Chelsea – Carabao Cup Preview

REDS FACE TOUGH TEST IN THE THIRD ROUND

Although fans will have one eye on the Premier League fixture with Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp will undoubtedly see this as an opportunity to present his first piece of silverware to the Anfield faithful.

Last time out, Liverpool recorded an impressively casual victory over Southampton, while Chelsea laboured to a 0-0 draw with West Ham.

Both Klopp and Maurizio Sarri will be tempted to rotate their squad for the Carabao Cup due to the importance of the league fixture, but make no mistake, both sides will be well up for the battle at Anfield.

LIVERPOOL – TEAM NEWS AND PREDICTED LINEUP

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Virgil van Dijk is the only newly injured player, and will be sidelined due to some bruising on his ribs which Klopp confirmed this week as being “uncomfortable, but I don’t think it’s much more”. Klopp confirmed in the press conference that Simon Mignolet will start in goal and Dejan Lovren “looks ready” to play.

Klopp is not known for heavily rotating his squad all in one go, regardless of the prestige of the competition. Therefore, it’s unlikely we will see the likes of Nat Phillips, Rafa Camacho, and Curtis Jones given their debuts, even though they impressed the manager during preseason.

Instead, Klopp will probably look to bring in senior players who are on the periphery of the squad, such as giving Fabinho his long-awaited debut, while maintaining influence from some of his key men. Other ‘stars’ could come off the bench if things are going pear-shaped, and likewise the youth players may get a run out if the game is going exceptionally well.

CHELSEA – TEAM NEWS AND PREDICTED LINEUP

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The Blues on the other hand do have a couple of injury concerns to consider: Antonio Rudiger and Pedro will almost certainly miss the game through their respective shoulder injuries.

Sarri commented that Rudiger’s injury is “nothing serious”, and that he would only be out for “maybe three or four days, no more”, meaning he could return for the league fixture. Pedro however is unlikely to return in time for the weekend.

Sarri recently commented that the likes of Reuben Loftus-Cheek are “not ready” for first team football, meaning experience squad players such as Ross Barkley will get their chance to shine. Although, some considerable rotation will be required given that his side played their European and Premier League fixtures a day after Liverpool’s games, and even had their flight cancelled on the way back from Greece after defeating PAOK 1-0.

PRE-GAME ANALYSIS

Liverpool FC Training Camp In Evian

It’s difficult to analyse a game where it’s entirely unknown which players will feature from either side; but what is certain is the fact that the tactics will be largely the same regardless of the players expected to fill each role.

Sarri’s Chelsea is far more aggressive than his predecessors’ sides, and don’t conform to many of the stereotypes associated with Chelsea teams. This Chelsea like to play with a pressing and possession-based approach, but crucially, Sarri opts to utilise a very high defensive line. This is where Liverpool can really cause damage, as we did when Napoli’s high-line was torn to ribbons in pre-season.

Chelsea’s midfield, led by their maestro Jorginho, are able to ping accurate passes behind the opposition defence for their wide attackers and overlapping fullbacks to run on to, potentially subverting Liverpool’s pressing game. Their compact system could also stifle players such as Naby Keita, who thrive on having the freedom to move in the spaces between the midfield and defence.

PREDICTION

FBL-EUR-C1-CHELSEA-TRAINING

Regardless of the players that Klopp puts out, Liverpool should have the tactical edge to advance to the next stage of the Carabao Cup, and give Chelsea some questions to answer before the weekend.

Sarri himself admitted that Liverpool are “a step forward” from Chelsea, and said “maybe in one year we will be at the same level”, further emphasising where the two clubs are currently positioned.

Therefore, I predict Liverpool will head into the weekend’s league fixture having won 3 – 1 in a highly entertaining cup match.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 25/09/2018

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Liverpool 3 – 0 Southampton

Reds Cruise to Another Win

Liverpool’s perfect start to the season continues with a maximum of 15 out of 15 points accrued in the league. After a decisive first half, the Reds took the second half off and waltzed to victory.

Xherdan Shaqiri made his long-awaited debut, and had an immediate impact by forcing an own goal after 10 minutes from a shot which deflected off two defenders.

Joel Matip towered over his opposite number, Jannik Vestergaard, to double the lead before a cracking Shaqiri free-kick from long-range rattled the crossbar and fell to an onrushing Mo Salah to finish off the rout.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 7:

Another quiet day for Alisson with very little to do aside from a few short passes to recycle possession.

He deserves a great deal of praise for pulling off a strong save in the 91st minute to deny Charlie Austin. It was his first save of the game so he could’ve been forgiven for falling asleep after waiting so long.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5:

Trent didn’t have much do to defensively, but he was a consistent outlet on the right flank for the attack.

He whipped in crosses all day and linked up well with those around in to try and create goal-scoring opportunities.

Joel Matip – 8:

Many fans, including myself, could be forgiven for feeling slightly nervous at the sight of Matip’s name on the team sheet, but the Cameroonian did well despite not being tested regularly.

He thumped a header home from a corner to put an exclamation point on his return but he, understandably, had a few moments where he was slightly too hesitant to take immediate action, which was likely down to rust.

Virgil van Dijk – 7:

VVD’s biggest contribution on a day where the defence had very little to do, was an excellent sliding challenge to thwart Shane Long.

All Liverpool fans had their hearts in their throats when Big Virg came off injured, clutching his ribs. Mercifully, Klopp confirmed after the game that it was just a precaution due to some pre-existing bruising.

Andy Robertson – 7:

Robbo, like the rest of the defence, had very little to do; especially in the second half which seemed to drag on for an age.

His linkup play was tight as usual, and the Scotsman almost scored a terrific volley in front of the Kop late on in the day.

Jordan Henderson – 7.5:

Hendo put in another solid shift for the team, controlling the middle of the park with and without the ball.

He ventured forward and ran with the ball more often than we’re used to seeing from Hendo in the last few seasons; an encouraging sign of confidence.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

A vastly underrated performance from the Dutchman, in a game where almost every single touch he made was inch-perfect.

Other players will steal the headlines, but Gini’s start to the season has been nothing short of phenomenal; and to think he could’ve left in the summer!

Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 8.5:

Finally Reds fans got to see the new signing make his debut, and what a debut it was for the Swiss international.

A big hand in two goals gave the home support just a taste of what’s to come, and even though many were disappointed to see him withdrawn at halftime, it’ll be a big asset to have a fresh and inform Shaqiri for the upcoming run of fixtures.

Sadio Mane – 6.5:

Mane didn’t have his best game of the season, but he didn’t need to for the Reds to secure an easy victory.

His passing was his greatest contribution on the day with a couple of lovely through balls, but other than that his final product was just slightly off.

Mo Salah – 7:

Salah himself was perhaps the only person more relieved than Liverpool fans when he scored a tap in from Shaqiri’s free kick.

Hopes that this would help him rediscover his confidence were dashed in the second half with consistent wasted opportunities. Although, to be fair, he almost scored an incredible backheel in the first half and was incorrectly ruled offside for his goal in the second.

Bobby Firmino -7:

Bobby dropped even deeper this game than normal and at one point came all the way back into our half to receive a short pass from VVD.

He also drifted wide even more often than usual, allowing Mane, Shaqiri, and in particular Salah to run into the half-spaces that he created centrally.

Subs

James Milner – (on for Shaqiri 45′) 7:

Milner was brought on to adjust the shape back to a more familiar one and to see out the game; he did both of these things competently.

Joe Gomez – (on for van Dijk 54′) 7:

Joe’s main highlight was his composure on the ball as he rarely had to make a defensive action.

Naby Keita – (on for Wijnaldum ’70) 6:

Naby came on for a fatiguing Gini, but didn’t seem that desperate to make an impact aside from one nice passing move with Bobby and Mo.

Unused Subs:

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Fabinho, Daniel Sturridge

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9:

Klopp managed this game to near perfection in every sense: team selection, rotation, tactics, and substitutions.

In particular, Klopp chose the perfect time to change the system by introducing Shaqiri in a game that could’ve easily been looked over and taken for granted.

Interestingly, this is the first time, (that I can remember), in which Klopp made all three of his allocated substitutions before the 70th minute. One was partially forced, granted, but this is likely a sign that Klopp’s trust in his squad is growing.

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Talking Points

Super Shaq

What a perfect time for Shaqiri to be introduced to the team and to shine so brightly on debut given the run of fixtures on the horizon.

It could be argued that Shaq played the ‘Ox’ role, and the comparison is fair given his direct dribbling and passing. However, his ability to beat defenders and unleash a powerful shot adds an extremely potent dimension to the Liverpool attack.

Furthermore, having someone as talented as him on set-pieces could prove vital in tight games given how frequently our players are brought down around the box.

Strength in Depth

Aside from Shaqiri, Matip also had an outstanding day on his return to the first team, and the same can be said for our midfield which has been regularly chopped and changed.

While it’s too early to say whether Matip could fight for a regular place in the starting lineup given the form of Gomez and VVD; the signs are there that he’ll be a handy replacement when necessary.

Gone are the days of David N’Gog and Jay Spearing, now Liverpool’s bench is more of a ‘who’s who’ of Premier League talent, rather than simply ‘who?’

Rotating for the Chelsea Games

While being Liverpool means competing on all fronts, even die-hard fans have to agree that the Carabao Cup ranks lowest on the scale of priorities this season.

Even though Klopp rarely utilises wholesale changes regardless of the competition, surely this time will be different given the squad depth and the run of difficult fixtures that follows.

The likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Moreno, Matip, Fabinho, Shaqiri, and Sturridge should all unquestionably start so that others can get some well-earned rest, even if Klopp doesn’t want to throw youngsters such as Curtis Jones and Nat Phillips into the mix.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 23/09/2018

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Liverpool vs Southampton – Preview

Reds Take On Saints at Anfield

After a good start to the Champions League campaign, Liverpool must now turn their attention back to the Premier League.

Considering the convincing victory against PSG midweek, it’d be easy to assume that Southampton should be a walk in the park. However, it’s this kind of complacency that the Reds must avoid in order to become title contenders.

While it’s true that this game falls in the middle of a patch of more difficult matches, ultimately each fixture is equally worth three points, so dropping points here would be highly disappointing.

Liverpool – Team News

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Jurgen Klopp usually chooses to only rotate when necessary, so don’t expect to see many changes on the weekend. Having said that, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri need minutes, so this could be a good opportunity for them to make their full debuts.

Naby Keita could come back into the team after missing out against PSG, but its questionable as to who would make way for him. Based on form though, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum are just about undroppable.

Bobby Firmino will almost certainly return to the starting lineup, such is his importance to the team, but after his fantastic display in the Champions League Daniel Sturridge may start either instead of Bobby or even alongside him if Klopp feels confident that a midfield duo would be able to control the game.

Southampton – Team News

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After a tremendous start to the season Danny Ings will miss the game against Liverpool, as loaned players cannot feature against their parent club.

Manolo Gabbiadini will be the only other notable absence as he recovers from a hamstring injury, but the likes of Nathan Redmond and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg have made impressive starts to the season and will look to fill the void.

Southampton may elect to start only one of Charlie Austin and Shane Long, in order to add another man, likely Oriol Romeu, to the midfield battle.

Pre-Game Analysis

Southampton are a team who like to sit back and hit teams on the counter, and this will certainly be their plan against Liverpool. They will use Højbjerg, Lemina, and possibly Romeu, to help the defence break up play and push into the box when the chance arises.

The Reds have considerable advantages all over the pitch though, especially when factoring the relative lack of pace that the Southampton defence possess.

Southampton will have to take a leaf out of Crystal Palace’s book and sit deep and narrow without allowing the likes of Firmino or Keita to operate in the half spaces.

Prediction

Southampton will be the latest team to use this method in an attempt to quell Liverpool’s attack, but again, the quality of the Reds should prove too great.

Hopefully this game will see the trumphant return of Mo Salah at his best, but I beleive it’ll be a tight games where chances are scarce.

A hard-fought, but deserved 2-0 win for the Reds.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 19/09/2018

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Liverpool 3 – 2 PSG

Liverpool Deserved Winners After Late Winner

Although the scoreline suggests a closely-fought contest, the undeniable reality is that Liverpool completely overpowered PSG and should’ve won the game by a far greater margin.

Mo Salah had a goal inexplicably ruled out for a dubious foul in the build up, and Edison Cavani was well offside in the buildup to PSG’s first.

Ultimately though, a late goal from Bobby Firmino rescued all three points for the hosts after Kylian Mbappe looked as though he’d undone Daniel Sturridge and James Milner’s opening goals.

Football - UEFA Champions League - Group C - Liverpool FC v Paris Saint-Germain

Player Ratings

Alisson – 6:

There wasn’t much for the Brazilian to do all night aside from picking the ball up from the back of his own net twice.

While he wasn’t at fault for either goal, one dodgy clearance put his team under unnecessary pressure.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8:

Another sensational performance from the young Scouser as he accrued a whopping total of 91 touches, as well as topping the charts for successful tackles and passes into the opposition’s half.

Aside from comfortably dealing with PSG’s formidable attack, Trent was unlucky to see a well-hit free kick deflect wide.

Joe Gomez – 8.5:

No task is too great for the ex-Charlton youngster. He’s at home in the Premier League, and unfazed on Europe’s biggest stage.

Joe even made a few crucial tackles to deny Neymar throughout the game; what a talent this lad is blossoming in to.

Virgil van Dijk – 8:

VVD was as composed as ever, and even though we conceded twice, the blame can hardly fall on any of the defenders.

The first goal should’ve been ruled out for offside, and the second came from an unfortunate rebound off of a brilliant tackle by van Dijk to deny Neymar.

Andy Robertson – 9:

Robbo was a nightmare for PSG all night. He completely stifled Mbappe to such an extent that PSG fans were criticising the Frenchman’s performance, while Robbo also pinned back his opposite number with his overlapping runs.

His delivery from the cross to Daniel Sturridge was simply sublime, and as the Scotsman joked after the game, “he couldn’t miss”.

Jordan Henderson – 7.5:

Hendo was solid throughout the 90 minutes and led the team well from the base of midfield; although, it was interesting that Jurgen Klopp swapped Hendo and Gini’s roles for this game.

He was caught out a couple of times in the first half by quick ball movement, but he fulfilled his role in the press after the break excellently.

James Milner – 9 (Man of the Match):

Neymar had a nightmare of a game, not because he played particularly badly, but because ‘James Mildini’ absolutely crunched him over and over in the tackle.

Milner combined industry with elegance by regularly drifting into the half-spaces and slotting home his penalty as calmly as Liverpool fans have come to expect from him.

Gini Wijnaldum – 9:

If Gini keeps this run of form up, then he’ll be well on his way to having by far his best season in red and finally quelling criticisms that he’s an inconsistent player.

He was involved in everything Liverpool did going forward and was duly awarded a penalty after being brought down while making another dangerous burst into the PSG box.

Mo Salah – 6:

Mo endured through a night where the ‘Football Gods’ simply weren’t smiling down on him.

He had a goal incorrectly ruled out after he did well to follow up a dead ball, and then he was unlucky to give the ball away just before Mbappe scored the equaliser, which could’ve cost us two points.

Sadio Mane – 7:

This was one of Mane’s more frustrating performances for Liverpool, and for all his brilliant games, he’s had a few that have made fans scratch their heads.

He struck fear into the PSG defence every time he brought the ball forward and beat his man regularly, including a humiliating skill move to turn Neymar inside-out, but his final ball was lacking.

Daniel Sturridge – 9:

What a moment for to open the scoring on what was, unbelievably, his first ever start for Liverpool in a Champions League game.

Although Robbo’s cross made things easy, Studge’s run to get between the centre-backs was outstanding and highlighted a performance that showed he’s still an asset to the club.

Subs

Bobby Firmino – (on for Sturridge 70′) 10:

His hard work earned him the opportunity to win the game, which he did with a brilliant turn to wrong-foot Marquinhos and an equally fantastic finish to beat Alphonse Areola.

Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Salah 85′) N/A:

Although publicly Shaq’s said he’s happy to wait for his opportunity, he must be getting frustrated at this point. No time to make an impact.

Fabinho – (on for Mane 90′) N/A:

No time to make an impact.

Jurgen Klopp – 9:

Klopp utterly outclassed Thomas Tuchel, the PSG manager, on a tactical level, which will be explained in further detail below in the talking points.

The only negative that could be thrown in Klopp’s direction would be that Salah should’ve come off sooner. He wasn’t playing well, and ultimately his mistake almost cost the team dearly.

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Talking Points

Intelligent Pressing

Klopp’s system, and the adjustments made to that system, was equally as impressive as the performance of his players on the pitch.

Liverpool’s focus in this game was to allow PSG all the possession they wanted in their own half, but relentlessly press them in our half. This was something I predicted in the pre-game analysis; Liverpool’s midfield would overrun PSG’s.

Salah and Mane also did an excellent job of cutting the passing lane options to the opposition fullbacks which had the double effect of forcing play to come through the middle, while also minimising the workload of our own fullbacks who had to contend with Neymar and Mbappe.

Sturridge Is Back

Quality in depth was something that really hurt Liverpool towards the back-end of last season, but now our depth has improved immeasurably not only due to new signings, but also thanks to the resurgence of players like Studge.

Of course he can’t do all of the things Bobby can, such as harass the opposition’s defence and midfield while they have possession, but the reality is no one can!

What Sturridge provides is an entirely different, but highly effective approach where he uses his movement and more subtle approach to link-up play to carve out chances for himself and others.

No Time to Rest

Although it would be tempting to rest key players against Southampton as they are seen as ‘lesser’ opponents, there is no sense in jeopardizing our perfect start to the season.

Southampton, like every other Premier League team, can beat anyone on their day, so any changes to the starting lineup should be made purely out of tactical or injury-provoked decisions.

One change that would certainly make sense would be to drop Salah for Shaqiri. The Egyptian isn’t at his best, and a bit of a break might help matters while a very competent replacement has a crack at starting.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 20/09/2018

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Liverpool vs PSG – Preview

Champions League Resumes at Anfield

After the heartbreaking loss in last season’s champions league final, Reds fans worldwide are itching to see Liverpool go one step further this time.

Standing in their way this time though is a much more difficult group: Napoli, Red Star Belgrade, and Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG, the reigning French champions, boast an incredible attacking lineup that will undoubtedly test Liverpool’s resolve and cause the fans a few nervy moments.

Liverpool – Team News

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Considering minimal rotation was made against Tottenham, it’s more likely that Klopp will again put out the best team possible, and then rest his stars either against Southampton in the league, or Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.

Bobby Firmino’s eye injury will almost certainly rule him out as a precaution, giving Daniel Sturridge a chance to make his first start of the season.

The only other possible changes would be to finally introduce Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho; although, Fabinho is the most obvious choice here given his familiarity with PSG from his time in Ligue 1.

PSG – Team News

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Gigi Buffon’s red card in his last ever champions league game for boyhood club Juventus means that he’ll miss what would’ve been his first one for his new club.

Likewise, Marco Verratti is still injured which is a big loss for PSG and means that Marquinhos will have to move into the midfield.

Despite two key absences, it’s impressive to see the quality this PSG possesses, in particular Angel Di Maria, Edison Cavani, world cup winner Kylian Mbappe, and of course, Neymar.

Pre-Game Analysis

Many fans are concerned over this attacking foursome and are predicting that this could be a step too far for our defence to handle.

However, as Liverpool fans should know all too well, a great attack doesn’t win you games on its own. The Reds’ midfield have to quality to overrun PSG’s and hamper their possession which would’ve led to chances.

Another aspect to note is that both PSG’s fullbacks are known more for their attacking prowess than defensive nous, a fact that will be exploited by Liverpool’s wingers to great effect considering neither Mbappe nor Neymar are generally willing to drop back and assist the defence.

Prediction

Both the midfield battle and the exploitation of PSG’s fullbacks will prove to be the decing factors in the game.

This will be another statement by a wonderfully talented team that has slowly but surely started to nail their tactical discipline as well.

Liverpool will finish the night top of the group after a convincing 3-1 victory.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 19/09/2018

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Tottenham 1 – 2 Liverpool

First Hurdle In Difficult Stretch Cleared

Jurgen Klopp described Liverpool’s victory at Wembley as the “best performance of the season”.

“The performance today was better that the result. Especially because in all the games (before), we had really good moments, but today we had 85 brilliant minutes”, Klopp said.

Despite the improved performance, the result should’ve been far more clear cut as finishing let the Reds down.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7:

Alisson promised last week that he wouldn’t repeat the error that led to Leicester’s goal, and he was good for his word.

The Brazilian was far more efficient with the ball and pulled off a strong save to dent Christian Eriksen. Alisson can take no share of the blame for Erik Lamela’s rocketed shot into the bottom corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5:

The young Scouser put on another impressive display and was influential at both ends of the pitch.

TAA had a chance to score from a well-placed free-kick, but unfortunately he couldn’t work the keeper after beating the wall.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Another credible display against top opposition shows that Gomez is finally fulfilling his immense potential.

One lapse early in the second-half to allow Harry Kane through on goal was the only blemish on an excellent performance, punctuated by an incredible covering run to deny the speedy Lucas Moura.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.5:

VVD hadn’t been at his best for the previous few Liverpool games, but as was to be expected, he’s returned to form without too much delay.

Most impressive of all was his ability to completely nullify Kane to the point that it was easy to forget the England striker was on the pitch.

Andy Robertson – 7.5:

Another copy and paste review of Robbo’s performance. Solid at both ends of the pitch.

The new Scottish captain has made a metoric rise in the last year, and one wonders how much further he has to grow.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

The curse is over! Gini finally scored an away goal in the league, so you have to wonder what the commentators will say now whenever he touches the ball in an away game.

His headed goal was undoubtedly the highlight of his day despite some good positional work, he was also guilty at times of stunting attacking movements with uncharacteristically poor passes.

James Milner – 8:

Milner, like Gini, is just about undroppable at the moments, and if these two keep it up Fabinho will struggle for game time.

His positional sense was exemplary, filling in for others as they pushed up. The only negative was once giving the ball away dangerously on the edge of the box.

Naby Keita – 7:

He’s still not quite there unfortunately, and this really was the game to kick start his Liverpool career properly.

He had a couple of chances to score, but couldn’t, and in general still appeared to be rusty. Of course he’ll come good at some stage, but hopefully that is sooner rather than later.

Mo Salah – 6:

Mo kept getting into the right positions, but consistently picked out the wrong option or simply fluffed the chance, including a one on one with Michel Vorm.

Some of this is undoubtedly down to putting extra pressure on himself to replicate last year’s heroics, but we need him back at his best for the games to come.

Sadio Mane – 7:

Like Salah, Mane was causing the opposition defence no end of problems, but couldn’t convert or pick out the right option.

He failed to find Gini when he was clean on goal, and fell over himself when a goal beckoned. In fairness to both wingers, despite not having the end-product, their overall games were quite good.

Bobby Firmino – 8.5 (Man of the Match):

This was undoubtedly Firmino’s best game of the season, although still miles away from his devastating best.

His composure on the ball was a sight to behold as his deft touches and turns were justly rewarded with the winning goal.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – (on for Firmino 74′) 6.5:

Hendo did a decent job after subbing on for Firmino. Bobby was severely poked in the eye by Jan Vertonghen, yet the referee blew a foul in Spurs’ favour much to Klopp’s bemusement.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Keita 82′) 6.5:

Keita had to fill in for Bobby when he went off, but Studge couldn’t do much better when he came on with only minutes to go. Has to take part of the blame for losing Lamela at the back post.

Joel Matip – (on for Alexander-Arnold 89′) N/A:

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs – Simon Mignloet, Alberto Moreno, Fabinho, and Xherdan Shaqiri

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Klopp has to take a lot of credit for Liverpool’s perfect start considering the performances haven’t been the best.

Rotating the team would’ve been tempting, but our best XI was required for the league which is the ultimate prize.

Talking Points

How Much Longer Until Our Front Three Are Back?

All Liverpool fans were left frustrated at times when our attack either couldn’t finish chances they would’ve snapped up last season, or selfishly picked out the wrong option when an easy goal beckoned.

Klopp himself was seething on the sidelines at times, regularly bellowing at those he felt were culpable.

With that level of fury, it’s certain that Klopp will focus his attention on this side of things, and surely it won’t be long until they’re either back to their best or the likes of Shaqiri and Sturridge are given a chance to do better.

Klopp’s Plans

As much as I believe it’s a good thing that Klopp chose to not rotate in this game, it does raise the question as to his intentions for the rest of the squad.

How much longer will the likes of Fabinho and Shaqiri in particular need before their ready to prove their work.

Some have suggested the next game against PSG in the Champions League will be the occasion Klopp finally rotates, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not the case.

First Step of Many

Liverpool’s next game is at home vs PSG, followed by what should be a fairly straightforward home fixture against Southampton.

Given that fact, Klopp may play his best XI against PSG, then rest them vs Southampton so that they’re fresh to take on undefeated Chelsea and league favorites Manchester City.

Whatever the case, continuing our winning form in the league is the most important thing and Klopp will likely have the same opinion.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 16/09/2018

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Tottenham vs Liverpool – Preview

Liverpool Kick Off Run of Tough Fixtures at Wembley

Liverpool have made a perfect start to the season so far, and so had Tottenham until they were defeated by a plucky Watford side.

Spurs will be looking to ruin Liverpool’s run and get their own season back on track ahead of the mid-week Champions League games.

It’ll be a difficult game to predict after the international break, and much will depend on the freshness and availability of each sides players.

Tottenham

Team News and Predicted Lineup

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As mentioned above, predicting a result, let alone a lineup for this game will prove exceedingly difficult.

The only certainties for Tottenham are that Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris will miss the game through injury.The rest of the team however, is highly interchangeable, particularly in midfield and defence.

Davinson Sanchez could be an option despite coming back late from international duty, while Danny Rose and Serge Aurier could feature if Keiran Trippier or Ben Davies aren’t fit to play.

Liverpool

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Likewise, the Reds’ lineup will be difficult to pick. Despite the fact that we have a run of difficult fixtures coming up, Klopp may elect to not rotate for this match.

News broke this week that Dejan Lovren will be sidelined for a further month at least, while Adam Lallana picked up a minor injury while away on England duty. Simon Mignloet also suffered a knock, but should still make the bench.

Klopp’s other options that may start ahead of those who travelled include Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, as well as the more exciting possibilities of Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Pre-Game Analysis

Like Liverpool, Tottenham have been, mostly, securing good results despite sub-par performances. In particular, star striker Harry Kane is yet to hit top form, much like our front three.

Given the stunted attack, the midfield battle becomes even more important and so it will be up to James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum to wrangle Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele, while Eric Dier struggles to contain Naby Keita.

This will be the game where Keita must stand up and cause Spurs serious damage, as his ability to operate between the lines will be key to breaking up their well-drilled defence.

Prediction

If Liverpool play to their best ability, then we should be able to handle every Spurs throw at us while causing them serious problems at their end.

But it’s unlikely we’ll see the Reds at their best at Wembley due to the hangover from the international break.

Given that, another gutsy performance will be required to get the win, and the Reds will do so in a 1-3 victory.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 15/09/2018

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