Liverpool 3 – 1 Manchester United: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Merry Christmas Mourinho

A visit from Manchester United is always a nervy affair, especially considering it’s been quite a while since we’ve beaten them in the League. That stat would make some believe that United have been dominating us when in fact, it’s been quite the opposite. They’ve just been stubborn and lucky with their deep defending and counter-attacks.

The injuries we suffered before the game suggested that a similar result was on the cards, and after Alisson’s mistake, it felt like déjà vu. The Reds dug deep though and refused to allow Mourinho’s men to knick another undeserved result.

Shaqiri was the hero in the end, scoring two goals to secure a 3-1 victory for the Reds. Mane gave the home side the lead after some wonderful link-up play before Super Shaq got on the right side of two deflections and sealed a deserved win.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 5.5

It’s just Liverpool’s luck that even when we finally land a top class ‘keeper, he still makes the odd howler. In fairness to Alisson, he was pretty unfortunate because although he slightly bobbled the catch, he would’ve secured it once he landed on the ground. In this instance though, his own knee knocked the ball loose and right into the path of Jesse Lingard.

Thankfully it didn’t matter in the end because his team bailed him out at the other end, which was a nice touch after Alisson bailed them out plenty of times, particularly against Napoli. He didn’t seem too phased by the mistake and finished the game well, especially with his quick and precise distribution.

Nathaniel Clyne – 8

Who can honestly say they weren’t even a little bit nervous to see Clyne’s name on the team sheet lining up against Marcus Rashford? Furthermore, who truly believed he’d have an outstanding game? I certainly didn’t, but I was extremely pleased to have been proven wrong.

He did fatigue badly as the game went on, but that’s to be expected from a player who’s played so little football in the last few years. He overlapped Mane well all game, even when his runs were ignored. He wasn’t able to do too much with the ball, but his defending was absolutely spot on.

Dejan Lovren – 7

Lovren was solid, no more, no less. Aside from a couple of moments, he rarely allowed his man to get the better of him, and he looked composed on the ball without being too potent.

He might’ve done better when he swung clumsily at a loose ball that could’ve put the score to 2-0, but it’s difficult to expect a centre-back to keep a cool head in the opposition’s box. Whatever your thoughts are on the player, we need badly need him until Gomez and Matip are back.

Virgil van Dijk – 9

VVD’s the best in the League, if not the world right now. It’s so refreshing to have a defender who combines composure and commanding leadership so seamlessly with pure talent and ability. There were so many times that he was under pressure at the back, but made a tricky turn and pass look easy.

Romelu Lukaku had fewer touches of the ball in 90 minutes than Shaqiri had in about 20, and that’s largely down to the fact that van Dijk didn’t let the Belgian out of his back pocket all night.

Andy Robertson – 8.5

Robbo was tireless again, but I have to lower his mark slightly due to the corner fiasco. He’s an inspirational lad and never shies away from a big game or a big performance. Aside from the corners, you know you’ve had a good game when misery guts Moaninho singles you out for praise.

The United manager said, “I am still tired just from looking at (Andy) Robertson! He makes 100-metre sprints every minute – absolutely incredible.” It sounds like Mourinho knows how big the gap between the two sides is.

2018 EPL Premier League Football Liverpool v Man Utd Dec 16th : News Photo

Fabinho – 9.5 (Man of the Match)

There were a few grumbles around the stadium during the first few minutes because Fab kept misplacing his passes. It seemed at first that the occasion was getting to him. How wrong we were! Fab was phenomenal for the rest of the game, winning tackles, creating chances, and threatening with long shots. It was a truly complete performance.

His pass over the top to Mane was inch-perfect. He lobbed it beyond the defence and dropped it right onto the chest of Mane. If Fab can build on these kinds of performances, he’ll become the best holding midfielder the club’s seen in the Premier League era.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7.5

Gini was very tidy against the Mancs, never gifting them any easy possession by giving the ball away. Even when it looked like he was running down a blind alley, he was still able to wriggle his way out.

He wasn’t exactly dominant, and he’ll have to face more resilient midfield units this season, but games like these are becoming the benchmark for Gini lately. His ‘worst day’ isn’t nearly as bad or frequent as it used to be.

Naby Keita – 6.5

It was a mixed bag for Keita on a night when he really could’ve taken the game by the scruff of the neck and exploited United’s weaker midfield and dicey defence.

He wasn’t bad. It’s just with his recent form and the fact that he was rested specifically for this game, you’d expect more. He was always nearly producing something, and a put in a good shift defensively, but ultimately, he wasn’t quite good enough. In fairness, he’s still not started many matches and has been forced to play a different role almost every single game.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Mo Salah – 7

This was Salah’s worst performance for a few weeks now after going on a run of goals and good performances. He didn’t let the team down by any means of course, he just wasn’t as influential as he could’ve been.

Even on an average night, he was able to cause panic in United’s defensive ranks, but his decision making in the box let him down far too often, and he even managed to leave the ball behind during one counter-attack.

Sadio Mane – 8.5

Some have argued that Mane didn’t have a great game against United, but even though he might’ve given the ball away a few too many times, he still scored a cracking goal from a perfect touch and finish, and then set-up the second with some sublime dribbling.

He looked knackered in the second half, which may explain why he so casually gave the ball away frequently as the game went on. Klopp probably should’ve subbed him far sooner than he did.

Bobby Firmino – 8.5

Bobby’s getting there. His class and creativity were on show against United, and although he didn’t get a goal or assist, he created plenty of half chances with his passing and shooting, particularly when he dribbled through three United defenders and got an outside of the boot shot away.

Maybe it was just me being paranoid, but I thought I saw him rubbing his eye a couple of times during the game. I hope that he’s not still suffering from that horrific eye poke he received weeks ago.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Subs

Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Keita 70′) 10

Shaq was worth every penny. Of course both goals had more than a touch of luck about them, but you create your own good fortune when you get yourself as involved as Shaq did. What a confidence booster for himself and the rest of the team.

Jordan Henderson – (on for Mane 83′) N/A

Hendo’s only involvement was firing over on his weak foot after some good linkup play.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Rafa Camacho, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9

Klopp got his team selection spot on again. What a gamble it was to bring Clyne back into the starting lineup after so much time on the sidelines, particularly in such a big game. Once again though, his gamble paid off.

Klopp said, “Nathaniel Clyne, first [league] game of the season. Brilliant, [he] adapted to the style after being not involved. Outstanding. All the boys worked so hard after Tuesday’s game. Now we have to carry on.”

This fixture has been somewhat of a bogey for Klopp since he’s arrived, and more often than not, Mourinho’s gotten the better of him. Sometimes it’s been down to luck, but often the wily Portuguese manager as simply gotten the better of the German tactically, that wasn’t the case this time though. It was Mourinho who was forced to dictate his game around Klopp this time as the former had clearly set his team up to be more aggressive than usual, but Klopp’s tactics forced United to retreat back into their boring, defensive shells.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Mind the Gap

Liverpool are now a whopping 19 points clear of Manchester United, but points aren’t the only way to measure the immense gulf between the two sides. Liverpool haven’t won anything under Klopp, but the strides that the club have made in that short space of time are virtually unparalleled.

United have done the complete opposite. It’s rare that you see such a great team fall so far so quickly, but that’s what’s happened at Old Trafford. The style of football is the antithesis of what you’d expect from a United side, and some of the stats from the game were telling.

Liverpool had 36 shots and 65% possession to United’s 6 shots and 35% possession. Incredibly, every single one of Liverpool’s outfield players, including the subs, had at least one shot against United. These are the kinds of stats you’d expect from a relegation side, not Manchester United. Surely Mourinho’s got to go soon.

Corner Comedy

Aside from perhaps Keita and Salah not quite being at the races, the only negative to take out of the game was the absolute comedy of errors that was Liverpool’s corners. Just about everyone had a crack at some point or another, but not one of them could clear the man at the front post.

At one point, Salah mercifully took over from Robbo who’d been copping it for hardly getting the ball off of the ground, but when the Egyptian stepped up, he did practically the same thing! In hindsight, it was quite funny, but only because we won in the end.

A team as good as ours shouldn’t be wasting any opportunities, certainly not from set-pieces considering we have a handful of players who are very good in the air. We’re doing ourselves a disservice every time the ball isn’t delivered into a dangerous area. Klopp needs the players to do more work on the training ground to get the corners right.

Back on Top

The win saw Liverpool return to the top of the table after Everton put in a fairly limp performance to gift Manchester City an easy win to put them two points clear.

Liverpool play first next week though, so a win against Wolves will see us, at least temporarily, four points ahead at the top of the table. Getting a win at the Molineux won’t be easy though, as this Wolves side are well up for it. Let’s not forget they managed to knick a draw off of City earlier in the season.

Thankfully Liverpool will have a full week to rest up and prepare for the game as opposed to City who take on Leicester in the Carabao Cup midweek before their game against Crystal Palace at the weekend.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 17/12/2018

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Liverpool vs Manchester United – Premier League Preview

Liverpool take on the old enemy, Manchester United, at Anfield in a crunch game in the Premier League.

This is always one of the most important games of the season, but it takes on extra importance in the context of Liverpool’s hunt for the title, and Mourinho’s efforts to stay in a job.

United’s never an easy game though, and even more than usual, they will be looking to frustrate us.

Liverpool Predicted Lineup and Team News

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Liverpool’s injury nightmare continues, at at the moment, it doesn’t feel like we can cope with too much more.

On top of Gomez’s leg break, now Matip is also out for around six weeks with a broken collarbone. I know from personal experience how painful that injury is, so kudos to Matip for playing through it. Trent Alexander-Arnold also has a foot injury, but it’s not thought to be too bad.

Milner has a slight muscle problem, but surely even a half-fit Milner has to play ahead of Clyne at right-back? The rest of the team more or less picks itself aside from the midfield which is always subject to rotation.

Manchester United Predicted Lineup and Team News

lineup (1)

Manchester United have many injury concerns of their own, but many of theirs are thought to be only knocks.

Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial, and Alexis Sanchez are all doubts, but I’d expect most of them to be fit and ready for the game.

Most of Mourinho’s decisions will come up top. He surely can’t persevere with Romelu Lukaku any longer as he’s becoming a hindrance. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have a far greater chance of troubling Liverpool.

Pre-Game Analysis

Game plans often go out the window in such emotionally charged games as this one, but there will be some telling indicators on how the game should pan out.

If Mourinho stubbornly leaves out Paul Pogba and Martial or doesn’t give Rashford the freedom to run down the left, then Liverpool will almost certainly win as there is very little that Lukaku can threaten us with that VVD can’t handle.

Liverpool have recently been getting better in attack as well, while United’s defence is uncharacteristically poor for a Mourinho side.

Prediction

For these reasons, I’m far more confident than usual that Liverpool will win the game and go back to the top of the table.

United will try all of their usual tricks of slowing the game down and pumping it long, but this time, it won’t work. Liverpool have got more quality than ever, but crucially, we’re far more tough mentally than we’ve arguably been in decades.

The Reds will brush the Mancs aside with a 3-0 victory, a result that could see Mourinho lose his job.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 16/12/2018

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Liverpool 1 – 0 Napoli: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Reds Move on to the Knockout Rounds

On a night where a professional and clinical effort was needed, every member of the team stood up and was counted. Liverpool faced relegation to the Europa League if they failed, but the Reds never looked like doing so.

Mo Salah, the Egyptian King, continued his resurgence with the first and only goal in the 35th minute, ultimately sealing the Reds’ progression. It was a well-taken effort and one that the team deserved after the string of chances that preceded and followed the goal.

There were some nervy moments throughout, particularly towards the end, but part of that stems from us fans still coming to terms with the fact that our team is more than capable of defending a narrow lead now.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – (Man of the Match) 10

Normally when the ‘keeper receives the man of the match award it reflects poorly on the rest of the team as it suggests they didn’t do much with the ball and didn’t protect their own goal enough. That isn’t the case here though.

Alisson was a wall all night and his only mistake was one poor pass. He produced what has to go down as the moment of the season so far with his last-minute save to deny Arkadiusz Milik a goal that would’ve sent the Reds crashing out of the tournament. He had no right to block a shot from that distance, yet, this is the standard the Brazilian has set for himself since he’s arrived. Best ‘keeper in the world? Quite possibly.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5

Trent had a nightmare against Napoli last time, and the Italians hadn’t forgotten as they targeted his side all night, but unlike last time, the Scouser was up for the challenge, aside from a couple of moments where the opposition got the better of him.

Furthermore, he provided a few well-placed balls into the box which could’ve led to goals, including one that Milner probably scored from. Sadly, he was brought off through injury late into the game, but let’s hope it’s not serious enough to keep him out of the United game.

Joel Matip – 8

Matip had another excellent game, but like TAA, he too faces a nervous wait to see how serious his injury is. His side was favoured by the opposition again, but he was able to deal with everything Napoli threw at him.

He was equally as strong in the air as he was on the ground, and crucially, his passing was mostly impeccable. We haven’t seen the best of Matip’s passing as he’s still used to hoofing it under pressure because he couldn’t trust his ‘keeper enough to pass it back. Once he’s more comfortable with this new style though, he’ll get even better.

Virgil van Dijk – 9

There was concern from the fans when VVD picked an early, and harsh, yellow card, but the only person who didn’t seem phased by it was the man himself. Other centre-backs might’ve let the anxiety get to them, but the big Dutchman was as confident as ever.

He made countless interventions to stop Napoli’s attackers in their tracks, which forced them to begin shooting from distance. Unfortunately, the booking means he’ll miss the first leg of our round of 16 game next year. 

Andy Robertson – 8.5

He’s done it again. How much more of this will it take before neutral fans start recognising the fact that Robbo has well and truly developed into one of the world’s best after only 12 months or so as a regular in the team?

His defending was good, but it was his attacking runs that really caught the eye; he was relentless. He should’ve had an assist when Mane wasted a glorious chance, but Robbo’s tenacious running alone helped the team by pinning Napoli’s right flank back.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Jordan Henderson – 8.5

A season-best performance couldn’t have come at a better time for our under-fire captain. Many, including myself, were simply baffled when Hendo was included ahead of Fabinho and Keita, but the Englishman calmed all fears with a true captain’s performance.

It wasn’t just that he was crunching into tackles and breaking up play, it was that he answered his critics with some driving runs and, most importantly, got the ball moving forward as quickly as possible. If he can keep that up, then a lot of the hate he gets online will simply vanish.

Gini Wijnaldum – 9

For the first time in what feels like months we got to see the real Gini Wijnaldum. Even at his worst, Gini’s able to retain possession under pressure incredibly well, so getting the ball off of him on a night like this was mission impossible.

Unlike in previous performances, he maintained a high standard until the final whistle and played a deciding role in limiting Napoli’s chances late on. He was certainly the catalyst for linking everything up on the night.

James Milner – 8.5

Not to be forgotten, Milner also had a tremendous game. The engine he possess is simply staggering, and he was an utter nightmare for Napoli’s midfielders all night.

The only criticism of his performance was that he could’ve gotten himself a couple of goals. His first chance came from an excellent cross from TAA and the next game just before he was subbed when he narrowly shot past the upright.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Mo Salah – 9

He’s never gonna stop. Mo Salah is on fire right now! He did miss a big chance early on when his first touch let him down and had another couple of opportunities to score, but in the end, it was his goal that sent us through.

He got past Kalidou Koulibaly, which is no mean feat, and then put the ball into the back of the net with a lovely finish from a difficult angle, embarrassing a flailing David Ospina in the process.

Sadio Mane – 6.5

Given his effort over the 90 minutes, it feels harsh to give Mane such a low rating, but he did miss some glaring chances that could’ve made the night so much easier and less stressful.

Encouragingly, he kept getting into the right positions, but his finishing was very poor by his standards. Let’s hope he makes up for it with a goal or two against United!

Bobby Firmino – 7

It’s a shame that Bobby’s yet to go through the same resurgence that Mo is experiencing, but I’ve got no doubt that a return to his best form is just around the corner.

He’s already getting better though, and against Napoli, he showed glimpses of what he’s capable of. He set up a few chances and clearly looks more comfortable up top than in behind in a 4-2-3-1.

 

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Subs

Naby Keita – (on for Firmino 79′) 7

It was a surprise not to see Keita in the starting lineup, but that’s perhaps a sign he’ll start against United. He gave the team a lift when he came on, disrupting Napoli’s attempts to overrun us.

Fabinho – (on for Milner 85′) N/A

Fab didn’t have enough time on the pitch for a proper rating, but his aerial presence was invaluable late on.

Dejan Lovren – (on for Alexander-Arnold 89′) N/A

The Croat had one ‘classic Lovren’ moment, but luckily the failed clearance didn’t lead to anything.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9

Most fans, including myself, doubted Klopp’s midfield selection before the game, and some thought the decision was downright mad given Fabinho and Keita’s form and the importance of the match itself.

Once again though, Klopp proved everyone wrong and was rewarded for this faith in his more experienced midfield trio. This decision, or gamble in the eyes of some, was arguably the deciding factor in the game. People can point at the Salah goal or the Alisson save, but the fact is that the midfield won us that game.

His shrewd selections also mean that Shaq, Fab, and Keita are completely fresh and ready to hammer United when they come to Anfield on the weekend.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Talking Points

Huge Result

It’s a strange time in modern football that many fans have admitted that they’d have rathered drop out of Europe entirely than have gone into the Europa League.

I’ll admit, I was one of those fans. Regardless of how other people may view it, I have little to no interest in Europe’s second division and view it mainly as an unnecessary distraction unless you reach the semis. It means so much extra travelling and far less time on the training pitch as a result, which is a luxury we can’t afford when we’re trying to hold off Manchester City.

Now that we’re in the Champions League knockouts though, I hope we go far. Yes, it also means travel and less preparation, but the UCL still holds value for fans and players alike. We can’t claim to be a big club while also hoping to go out in the next round so we can focus our efforts on the EPL, we should have enough to compete on two fronts.

Red Redemption

This games, along with the previous few, have seen multiple Reds redeem themselves in the eyes of the fans after a mediocre start to the season that’s been masked by terrific results.

Starting at the back, Matip’s been a revelation after we all lamented the temporary loss of Gomez. If he can keep this up, and stay fit of course, then he’ll have cemented his place in the squad for many seasons to come. Salah’s return has been talked about to death, but it can’t be overemphasised how important he is to the side.

The midfield deserves the most praise though in this regard. Not only did the starting trio play brilliantly, but it came after Fabinho and Keita had played their way back into the side. We now have 5 legitimate options in midfield at the most crucial point of our season so far. 

Bring on United

I’m always nervous about United games. They mean so much to me in that a win can make a poor season acceptable, and a good season a frustrating one if we lose or have a bad draw. This season’s clash will see the stakes raised even further in the context of our title chase and Jose Mourinho’s efforts to stay in a job.

Jose will likely try and do to us what he did last season and use Rashford, and possibly Martial’s, pace to hurt us on the counter after keeping almost everyone behind the ball and soaking up as much pressure as possible.

This is why Gomez is a big loss because his pace would’ve negated that plan. Matip can catch these players over a long distance too though, so his inclusion would be acceptable, particularly if TAA can’t play so Milner shifts back to right-back. Lovren would struggle with this and his inferior passing ability would trouble us given the fact that our backline will see a lot of possession throughout the game.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 12/12/2018

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Liverpool vs Napoli – Champions League Preview

Liverpool take on Napoli at Anfield in the final game of the Champions League group stage.

The equation is simple. Liverpool must either win 1-0 or by two clear goals in order to progress to the knockout stages. Failure means almost certain relegation to the Europa League.

Napoli are a fierce opponent and already can boast one win over the Reds. If Klopp’s men aren’t careful, this could quickly turn into a nightmare. A balance of intense focus and ruthless aggression must be met if we are to win the game and progress to the knockouts.

Liverpool Predicted Lineup and Team News

lineup

Apart from the long-term injuries that are still hanging over us, Liverpool have no new injuries to report on.

The team should more or less pick itself aside from the midfield. There, Klopp has a pick of multiple options and formations. Keita and Fabinho’s form should see them retained in midfield, while Wijnaldum has been known to step up another gear in Champions League games.

Milner can’t be overlooked though as his experience and industry in the middle of the park could be invaluable. Klopp’s a big fan of Hendo as well, so it shouldn’t be too surprising if he is selected as well.

Napoli Predicted Lineup and Team News

lineup (1)

Carlo Ancellotti is blessed with a clean sheet in fitness terms, but that can sometimes be a curse in the sense of having too many options.

Piotr Zielinski was phenomenal in the first game and should therefore see his chances of starting rise. However, Masksimovic presents a far more defensively sound option at right-back, and in this game, there’s no reason for Napoli to take unnecessary risks.

The rest of the team more or less picks itself due to the quality of the starting players, but Milik could be included if Ancellotti decides to utilise a more direct approach in this game.

Pre-Game Analysis

This is an unusual game in the sense that it’s difficult to decide upon what approach each manager should take.

Should Klopp play safe and hope we pluck a goal? We’ve proven we’re capable of defending narrow leads now, but perhaps this is the game to go back to our old still of just attacking relentlessly and hope that we put enough goals past Napoli that it doesn’t matter if we concede.

Likewise, Ancellotti has to decide whether to go for the 0-0 draw and try to frustrate the home side, or push for a goal that would give them a lot of breathing space.

Prediction

Napoli will try and push for that all important first goal, but that will play right into Liverpool’s hands.

Liverpool will snatch a goal on the counter and defend the lead from there. It feels strange to say that given our history, but this team is more than capable of doing the job tough now.

The Reds will progress to the next round after a nervy, but deserving, 1-0 victory. C’mon Liverpool!

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 11/11/2018

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Bournemouth 0 – 4 Liverpool: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Liverpool Take Top Spot

Liverpool have gone top of the league after defeating Bournemouth 4-0 at the Vitality Stadium, while Manchester City lost 2-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Mo Salah tapped in the only goal of the first half from a marginally offside position after Firmino forced the Bournemouth ‘keeper into an awkward save.

Liverpool ran riot in the second half with another two goals from Salah to complete his hat-trick, as well as an own goal from a tricky Robertson cross.

FBL-ENG-PR-BOURNEMOUTH-LIVERPOOL : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 8

Our ‘keeper is looking completely unstoppable at the moment. He was slightly busier than he might’ve expected to have been against Bournemouth, but that was no problem for him.

He made a strong save to deny David Brooks (who looks an exciting prospect) early on in the match, and never looked back. Alisson had no case to answer for when Joshua King went down in the box, and the Brazilian made Junior Stanislas look silly when he easily caught the winger’s swerving free-kick.

James Milner – 7

It was slightly surprising to see Milner at right-back, although resting Alexander-Arnold made sense given that the latter had to play most of the Burnley game when he should’ve been resting.

In any case, Milner was as reliable as ever and showed tremendous industry to go along with his attacking thrust. His only real blemish was a dodgy clearance which Alisson was forced to deal with using his head.

Joel Matip – 7.5

Gomez’s long-term injury opened the door for Lovren to try and reclaim his place in the side after an impressive end to last season. However, he too was ruled out of this match, so it was Matip who had to step up.

Matip did well throughout, remaining neat and tidy while showing moments of dominance. It’ll take more than one game to convince the fans that he should remain ahead of Lovren, but one fact that’s indisputable is that Matip is far better on the ball than the Croat.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.5

There’s not much to say about VVD’s performance other than he was typically solid and commanded the line to perfection.

It’s nothing short of incredible that he’s played for Liverpool 30 times in the League and already amassed 17 clean sheets in that time. Where would we be without him?

Andy Robertson – 8

Robbo returned to action after missing the Burnley game. He was resting up and nursing a minor niggle before the important run of fixtures that looms ahead.

Brooks was causing him problems at times, but the tables soon turned. His ‘assist’ for the own goal was a deserving reward after another excellent day for the Scot in both attack and defence.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Fabinho – 8.5

If TAA wasn’t playing, then you’d expect Fabinho to be the one to shift to right-back, as he’s played there for a significant portion of his career. Trust Klopp to make the right call though, the Brazilian was a wall in the middle of the park.

This is exactly why we bought him. While everyone else is bombing forward, Fab can sit back and be the safety pin to make sure that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot. He was immense at breaking up play and got the ball moving again quickly.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6.5

Gini wasn’t too bad, and he was far more effective with the ball at his feet than in some recent games. Perhaps he was just a victim of the fact that practically everyone else had a blinder.

In any case, he was a bit too sloppy at times and was far too casual in giving away possession. He did seem to combine well with Fabinho defensively though.

Naby Keita – 7.5

Keita didn’t quite reach the heights of his performance against Burnley, in part due to being shifted out onto the left, but he still did enough to assure fans that his last game was no fluke.

He was probably the Reds’ brightest spark in the first half, especially when he was doing his trademark direct dribbling. He probably would’ve gotten a higher score if he were given the ball more often.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Xherdan Shaqiri – 7

It’s strange. As the team’s performances have been getting better, Shaq’s been disappearing. That might be slightly harsh, but he was the only attacker with anything about him earlier in the season, maybe I’m just noticing him less now.

He wasn’t bad in this game, or any other for that matter, he just wasn’t as involved in either his attacking or defensive duties as we’ve come to expect. He was better in the first half but completely drifted out of the game in the second.

Bobby Firmino – 7.5

There was a lot of concern from many fans, including myself, who worried that Bobby was going backwards and was miles away from his best this season. Luckily, he scored a goal against Burnley which seemed to reinvigorate him and restore some confidence.

He carried that into the Bournemouth game, and while he still wasn’t the same Bobby as last year, he did show some creativity that had been lacking recently. His role was a bit unusual in the sense that he was much higher than in previous games when he’s played as a 10, but still not as high as Salah. Perhaps Klopp has chosen to adjust in this manner to try and restore Firmino’s dominant performances.

Mo Salah – (Man of the Match) 10

He’s back. Maybe it’s too soon to declare that outright, but it certainly felt that way against Bournemouth. It should be noted that Nathan Ake is no chump, but Salah made him look like an amateur all afternoon.

His second goal was particularly impressive as he stayed on his feet after having his ankle clipped, before finishing under Ake and past Asmir Begovic. The third was as brilliant as it was comical. Salah rounded Begovic twice, and Steve Cook once, before arrogantly slotting the ball past Ake.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Subs

Adam Lallana – (on for Keita 65′) 7

Fair dues to Lallana, he got the assist for Mo’s hat-trick goal and was generally active once he came on.

Sadio Mane – (on for Shaqiri 65′) 7

Mane wasn’t too involved, but he helped pin Bournemouth back. It’s more than likely he was reserving himself for Napoli, especially after his knock.

Jordan Henderson – (on for Firmino 81′) 6

Hendo didn’t have much time to do anything, but he was far more aggressive than Fabinho in getting forward. Of course, he could afford to do that at 4-0.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Daniel Sturridge, and Divock Origi.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9

Another week, another gamble that paid off in Klopp’s favour. This time it was to do with a few specific decisions. Firstly, he chose to play Milner at right-back instead of Fabinho, both of whom had an excellent game in their designated positions. Secondly, Klopp pushed Keita out onto the left, and Keita did a more than serviceable job, even if he wasn’t as involved as he would’ve liked. Lastly, he restored Bobby to a higher role, which did, and will continue to, pay dividends.

Klopp should be applauded for getting these calls right, and it just goes to show how diverse his squad is in the multiple roles and positions that each player can handle. It was these big calls that led to what’s arguably Liverpool’s best performance of the season.

Salah too benefited from the attack being adjusted, and both he and Klopp were rewarded with a long overdue hat-trick. Likewise, the manager utilised his bench well and ensured that everyone is as well rested as they can possibly be before the Napoli match and then the Manchester United game after that.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Milner’s 500th

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention James Milner on his 500th League appearance. What a man, and what an achievement!

Milner’s had an incredible career, and I’m sure all of us Reds fans hope that he continues with us for a few more seasons. He’s invaluable to the team whether as a starter or off the bench. Likewise, he’s equally comfortable controlling the game in the middle of the park, shutting down wingers as a fullback, or pinging in inch-perfect crosses as a wide-man.

The high regard that his teammates hold him in was demonstrated when Mo Salah refused to accept the man of the match award, and instead gave it to Milner. A fitting gesture for a true legend of the Premier League era.

Mo’s Revival

Speaking of Mo, he reached an incredible milestone of his own against Bournemouth, he became Liverpool’s 9th highest Premier League goal-scorer of all time, despite only being at the club for a season and a half.

Salah’s now on 42 League goals after only 52 appearances in the competition. To put that in perspective, Phillipe Coutinho (who Salah overtook, alongside Steve McManaman) took 152 games to get to 41 goals. What Salah has managed to achieve during his short time on Merseyside is simply phenomenal.

His resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time either, because the next two games could have significant implications on how the rest of the season will play out.

Going Top

Chelsea have done Liverpool a massive favour by defeating City, and not just because it sends us top, or because it leaves us as the only remaining undefeated team, but because the result means that City got 0 points from that same fixture that Liverpool got 1 from. Results like that are what decide titles. Although, in fairness, the result might’ve been different if Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne had’ve played.

For now though, it’s important to not get too far ahead of ourselves as Napoli are on their way. We all know what’s needed at Anfield, but the consequences of failure could prove fatal to our title chase as the Europa League is far more taxing than the Champions League. If we’re relegated, then we should hope that Klopp sends a B team to every Europa League game he can afford to and accept that elimination could stem from that decision.

Either way, the next EPL fixture is against Man Utd, and we can’t afford to let our lead slip so soon. Jose Mourinho has a habit of raining on Liverpool’s parade, and despite us being the better side under Klopp, our record against the Scum isn’t as good as it should be. It’s time to rectify that.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 09/12/2018

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Bournemouth vs Liverpool – Premier League Preview

Liverpool take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in the last stop before the season heads into crunch time.

Bournemouth are no walk in the park, but they’re considerably less daunting than the prospect of facing Napoli in a must-win Champions League tie, as well as Manchester United in the same week.

Nevertheless, Eddie Howe’s men can’t be underestimated as they’re fully deserving of 7th place in the League so far, and are fairly applauded by many fans, pundits, and commentators for their impressive style of play and ability to give the big teams a run for their money.

Bournemouth Predicted Lineup and Team News

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In a disaster for Bournemouth’s season, and potentially England’s future centre-midfield, Lewis Cook Lewis Cook has been ruled out for six to nine months with a ruptured ACL. Even though I’m a Liverpool fan, I’d like to wish Lewis a swift recovery.

Another midfielder, Dan Gosling, is also unavailable this weekend due to a knee problem, so the central midfield pairing of Andrew Surman and Jefferson Lerma picks itself.

Junior Stanislas is an alternative to David Brooks on the right flank if Howe decides to rotate, though the form of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser will surely see those two players line up for their third league match in eight days. However, Brooks is an outstanding player, so Howe may opt to play both him and Stanislas. Joshua King is also likely to feature, at least off the bench.

Liverpool Predicted Lineup and Team News

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Robertson and Wijnaldum are fit to feature after missing out in midweek, but Mane is unlikely to be ready to play after the Senegalese midfielder only started running on Friday.

Gomez, Lovren, and Clyne have also been ruled out, so Liverpool’s back four almost picks itself given that Robertson will surely oust Alberto Moreno at left-back for the trip to the Vitality Stadium.

Mane’s probable absence may mean that Klopp persists with a 4-3-3, with Roberto Firmino perhaps moving over to the left flank to fill in for the crocked winger. Fabinho and Wijnaldum may return to the team at the expense of Henderson and Milner, who both played 90 minutes on Wednesday, though Keita excelled at Turf Moor and could retain his start.

Pre-Game Analysis

Eddie Howe has favoured a three-man backline in away matches against “big six” sides this season but at the Vitality Stadium the Bournemouth boss has stuck with a 4-4-2 in fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester United, so we may see that second system used again for the visit of Liverpool.

David Brooks could also miss out (as he did against Manchester City) if Howe switches to a 3-4-3, with Tyrone Mings the likeliest candidate to play alongside Steve Cook and Nathan Ake at centre-back.

Liverpool could utilise either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 in this game, but much will depend on who Klopp wishes to rest.

Prediction

Similar to last week, it’s difficult to make a prediction for the game when Klopp’s selections are so unclear. In any case, Liverpool should fancy themselves.

Bournemouth will put up a strong fight and won’t make life easy for the Reds, but given that a certain contingent of Liverpool’s players have started to spark into life recently, we should have enough for the win.

Liverpool will go top of the League, at least temporarily, with a resounding 3-1 victory.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 08/11/2018

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Burnley 1 – 3 Liverpool: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Weakened Reds Win at Turf Moor

At the risk of sounding like Brendan Rodgers – I thought we showed great character against Burnley. Snatching a win at Turf Moor is never easy, and if you add in the context of a heavily rotated side going down 1-0 to a sloppy goal in the second half, it makes the result even more impressive.

Burnley bundled home the opener from a corner through Jack Cork, but in a manner that’s only started to emerge recently, Liverpool battled back against a defensive side away to win definitively.

Milner got us back into the game with a clever finish beyond Joe Hart before Firmino tapped home a well-worked set-piece routine. The Reds endured some nervy moments towards the end of the game before Shaqiri secured the result from a counter-attack.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 8

Another week; another outstanding display by our ‘keeper. Alisson struggled early with some uncharacteristically wayward passing, but he more than made up for that with the rest of his performance.

Burnley were unable to trouble him until they scored their goal. The defence weren’t much help as the opposition were able to win the header too easily, and almost latch on to the second ball, before booting it out of Alisson’s grasp. The ‘keeper could’ve been stronger, but he can’t accept too much of the blame. His late save off the crossbar was nothing short of heroic and certainly rescued two points for the team. Money well spent.

Joe Gomez – 6

Gomez had little to do before being worryingly stretchered off after just 23 minutes.

It looked like a serious injury, and Klopp confirmed that Gomez will be getting scans to assess the situation. All fans will be praying that he’s back very soon.

Joel Matip – 6

Matip wasn’t too bad, but he did little to make the fans forget about their concerns for Gomez and the latter’s importance at centre-back.

Matip looked understandably rusty, and he’ll get more minutes during December and early January, but even with some leniency due to rustiness, the Cameroonian didn’t look particularly comfortable. He got better as the game went on though, so hopefully there’s still some life in his Liverpool career yet.

Virgil van Dijk – 8

VVD was back to his best against Burnley and helped the makeshift defence over the line to victory. One or two passes aside, his distribution was typically on point, and as usual, he was utterly dominant in the air.

He had a chance to snatch a goal, but couldn’t direct his header past Hart; he did make up for it with an assist though. VVD acrobatically got on the end of an Alexander-Arnold cross and directed the ball into the path of Firmino. A complete performance from the big man.

Alberto Moreno – 6

Moreno wasn’t too bad. Nobody wanted to see his name on the teamsheet, even if Robbo needed and deserved a rest. The memories of some of the Spaniard’s worst moments is too much to let go of for most supporters.

Regardless, Moreno did okay without getting close to Robbo’s level, but he never let the team down before getting hooked off midway through the second half.

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Jordan Henderson – 6.5

Hendo returned to the starting lineup after missing the Everton game through suspension. However, it was more of the same from our captain, passing backwards and slowing down the play. His most memorable moment was when he slipped over.

He did improve in the second half though, and even played some forward passes. Crucially, he managed to snuff out a dangerous looking Burnley attack late in the game and did well to release Salah, but nothing came from the chance. If Hendo can play every game the way he did the second half, then maybe he’ll get some slack from his critics, even if he can’t fully win them over.

Naby Keita – (Man of the Match) 8.5

What a time to kick-start your Liverpool career. Keita was simply brilliant on the day and deserved to get on the score sheet for his efforts, but he was denied what would’ve been two stunning goals.

The first came from a powerful run followed by a booming shot, but Hart just got a fingertip to the ball to parry it onto the post. He then almost converted an outrageous backheel finish, but the ball was cleared off the line. Despite this, Keita was immense and looked like the player we’d all been hoping for since his debut against West Ham.

James Milner – 8

Milner was one of the best players in the team at the start of the campaign, but for whatever reason, he’d been going through a dip in form in the last run of games. He was one of deciding factors in the victory against Burnley though.

Aside from his clinical finish to get his team back into the game, Milner was running the show with Keita and almost set Sturridge up for a goal. He finished the game at left-back when Moreno went off and incredibly, was still just as involved from the back.

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Xherdan Shaqiri – 7

Shaq would’ve gotten a 6 if he didn’t score, as he was unusually quiet for most of the game, especially in the first half. Part of it was likely down to not having the usual front three ahead of him, but regardless, he wasn’t involved enough.

Like most of the players, he got better as the game went on and he made a good run and classy finish to send the fans home singing. He’s a handy player to have when one or more of Mane, Salah, and Firmino aren’t playing.

Divock Origi – 7

Similar to Shaq, Origi gets a higher score because he registered the assist that got Liverpool back into the contest. Klopp was right to give him a chance, and this is hopefully another step in the right direction.

He worked hard, but he still appears to be suffering from his lengthy spell on the sidelines, meaning he’s not quite on the same wavelength as the rest of the team.

Daniel Sturridge – 6.5

Studge was too wasteful at times against Burnley, which isn’t something that you’d typically associate with such a prolific striker.

He was involved in the buildup to Shaq’s goal, but he got caught in possession far too often and on other occasions couldn’t control the ball when chances presented themselves. He was far better in the second half though and got a good shot off just after the break.

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Subs

Trent Alexander-Arnold – (on for Gomez 23′) 6

Trent came on to replace the injured Gomez and had a mixed performance.

He was largely at fault for Burnley’s goal as he was beaten far too easily at the back post, but he produced a beautiful curling cross to VVD for our second goal from an awkward location. It’s rare that you see a goal scored in that manner when the position of the free-kick provides no angle.

Mo Salah – (on for Moreno 65′) 7

Salah was extremely lively when he came on and caused Burnley all sorts of problems. An assist was a fair reward for his solid cameo.

Firmino – (on for Origi 65′) 7

Bobby tapped in the second goal from his first touch and worked hard for the rest of his time on the pitch.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Rafa Camacho, Fabinho, and Adam Lallana.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8

Klopp took a gamble on his heavily rotated side. If it didn’t work, then we all would’ve rightfully slated him for it, so now that it has worked, he deserves a proportionate amount of credit for the decision. He couldn’t have done anything about Gomez getting injured, but apart from that, it’s certain that many of our best players will have benefited from not having to play 90 minutes.

Likewise, this had the added effect of allowing certain rotational players a chance to prove themselves, and in the case of Keita in particular, that also paid off. The result and performance means that Klopp can now rotate when needed, and the players themselves will have the confidence to take their chances with both hands.

The manager should also be applauded for bringing Firmino and Salah on with plenty of time for them to change the game instead of leaving it too late which he’s been guilty of doing at times in the past.

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Talking Points

Concern for Gomez

Gomez copped a hefty challenge from Ben Mee which sent him tumbling over the pitch and he got his leg caught in a nasty position. It was the only significant negative to take away from the game, but one that could have severe consequences for Liverpool’s season.

Klopp was notably upset when discussing the incident saying, “Joe is injured and probably not only a little bit. We have to see tomorrow. It’s [his] ankle, yes. After the first challenge, a sliding tackle from seven or eight yards, I said to the ref: ‘Please tell them you can’t do that’. Someone has to say ‘stop doing that’.” Scans will reveal the extent of the injury.

We’re all hoping that it’s nothing serious, but the signs don’t look good. If he’s going to be out for an extended period of time, then Liverpool face a genuine dilemma. Do we put our faith in Lovren and Matip to step up to the high standards that Gomez has set? Or do we try and bring in a quality replacement in January?

Keita’s Arrival

This was the Keita that we’d thought Liverpool had purchased; the player that we’ve only seen the briefest of glimpses of since his tremendous debut at home against West Ham.

He was Liverpool’s main man against Burnley because he was in control of the majority of the game and was constantly getting the ball moving quickly from the middle to the final third. He did so with both his dribbling and his passing, and his confidence grew with every success.

His ability to launch attacks quickly and link up with those around him with slick passes is something that Liverpool have missed since Ox’s injury, so hopefully Keita can fill that void. If he does, then it could be the spark that allows Liverpool to return to the kind of play that took Europe by storm last season.

Gaining Momentum

This is where a season can unravel quickly if your team isn’t mentally tough, physically fit, and of course, blessed with a bit of luck.

However, Liverpool look a different beast now and are fully capable of winning games when the going gets tough and when our stars aren’t performing or even on the pitch. Wins breed confidence, and Liverpool should have plenty to help carry them through the rest of the month. Likewise, Klopp’s decision to rotate heavily may give certain players an extra 10% in the tank to keep performing to a high level before their next break.

Next up, Liverpool are away again at Bournemouth, before returning to Anfield for that crucial clash with Napoli and the match against Manchester United. Those three games are played over only 9 days, but their importance and difficulty are such that further rotation would appear unlikely. That 9 day period will be the most important in the season for the club so far.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 06/12/2018

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Burnley vs Liverpool – Premier League Preview

Liverpool take on Burnley at Turf Moor in the game that signals the beginning of the grueling Christmas period.

It’s true that Burnley have struggled this season and that they’re not the same tricky opponents as in previous years. However, that’s not to say that they’ll just roll over and gift Liverpool and early Christmas present.

The Reds will have to be at their best to break down and stubborn home defence, particular given the fact that Klopp will almost certainly choose to rotate his side heavily for this game.

Burnley Predicted Lineup and Team News

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Nick Pope, Jonathan Walters, Stephen Ward, and Nakhi Wells will all miss the game, while there’s concern for Steven Defour, Robbie Brady, and Ben Gibson.

Defour will be assessed before the match, but it’s unlikely that Sean Dyche would risk one of his best players at this point of the season if he’s not 100% fit. Meanwhile, there’s been no update on Brady’s fitness after he was withdrawn against Crystal Palace with a knock, though he’s expected to start.

Gibson could also make his return, but like Defour, he may not be risked. Given the long list of injuries, Ashley Westwood and Aaron Lennon are legitimate options to come into the starting lineup.

Liverpool Predicted Lineup and Team News

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The only player that will certainly miss the game is Ox, as he’s still got some way to go on his long-term recovery. We could certainly use his talent and drive in midfield now though.

Elsewhere, there’s a number of players who have picked up various knocks, so the likes of Gomez, Lallana, Mane, and Robertson could all be given the game off to recuperate, though none of the injuries are considered to be serious and Gomez in particular is expected to play.

Klopp hinted that he would be rotating this game, so the likes of Keita, Lovren, Matip, Moreno, Sturridge, and Clyne may be given a rare chance to start. Hendo is also likely to return after missing the Everton game through suspension.

Pre-Game Analysis

Given the fact that Liverpool will be resting many of our key players, it’s extremely difficult to predict what team or even formation Klopp will go with, let alone give an analysis on how the game will go.

One thing’s for certain: Burnley will be well up for the game and will recognise Liverpool’s vulnerabilities without some of our stars. That could even mean that we see a more attacking approach from Dyche’s men than we’re used to, as without our regular front three, we’ll be less potent on the counter.

Those who do come in for the Reds will have their work cut out for them, as Turf Moor is far from the easiest place in the world to go with a weakened side. We’ll need to be tight at the back, particularly from set-pieces, and take as many of the few chances we’ll get to secure the win.

Prediction

Again, this is a nearly impossible job considering all of the unknowns surrounding this game, but it will almost certainly be a low-scoring game.

Much will depend on how confident Burnley are feeling on the day and their willingness to attack, as well as Liverpool’s rotational players and how well they grab their opportunity for more regular game time.

Burnley will throw everything they’ve got at us, but we should still have enough to limp away with a narrow 1-0 victory.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 05/11/2018

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Liverpool 1 – 0 Everton: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Merry Christmas Everton

Divock Origi’s comical late goal sent Anfield into raptures and meant that for the third time in the space of 12 months, Liverpool have beaten Everton with a late winner.

The game itself was intense, and to Everton’s credit, they put up a far greater fight than in previous years, turning the match into an end-to-end thriller. Ultimately though, the result was a fair one, even if the goal was extremely fortunate. The Reds had numerous chances to put the game to bed, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Everton had opportunities of their own, but all were snuffed out by Alisson.

The win will give the players and supporters a much-needed lift after a difficult week and will serve us well going into the busy Christmas period. Hopefully those positive feelings will translate into goals and points on the board.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – (Man of the Match) 9

For the second game in a week, Alisson given his team the chance to come back and win when things could’ve turned ugly, but also been the man of the match. This is what a top ‘keeper looks like. This is what £60million looks like.

Alisson’s two biggest moments came from chances that he had no right to save. Theo Walcott, who’s lightning on his feet, attempted to round the Brazilian and shoot into an empty net, but Alisson managed to force Walcott into a bobble, and the opportunity was gone. He also made an incredible save to deny Andre Gomes when the latter thumped a header towards goal from close range.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6.5

It was the correct decision by Klopp to restore Trent to the starting lineup, not only for tactical reasons, but also because the influence of a local lad on the Merseyside Derby cannot be underestimated.

His use of the ball was usually effective, except for in dead-ball situations, he was extremely poor by his standards in that department. Reminiscent of Robbo and Mane’s understanding down the left flank, TAA and Shaqiri seemed to click well together in this game. A promising sign.

Joe Gomez – 7.5

Even though he wasn’t at his absolute best, Gomez still showed why he should always be first-choice as VVD’s partner from now on, not sharing the position with Lovren.

After Alisson’s wonder-save to deny Gomes, Joe got a foot in the way of the follow-up shot that would’ve certainly seen the Reds fall behind. It was a heroic moment and one that may have huge implications in this year’s title race.

Virgil van Dijk – 6

After his nightmare in Paris, VVD was better against Everton, but still not nearly as good as we expect of him. He was careless on the ball on occasions and was dragged out of position a couple of times, looking uncomfortable with Everton’s overlapping runs. He also appeared indecisive in some moments where he’d otherwise be swift in his judgement.

Overall though, he was decent, and for the most part, was able to deal with the significant threat that Everton posed, particularly through Richarlison. We’ll need him back at his best soon. Cracking assist for Origi’s goal though…

Andy Robertson – 7.5

It was business as usual for Robbo. Energetic, combative, effective. You always know what you’re getting from the Scot, and in the Derby, that was no different.

His overlapping runs down the left added another dimension to Liverpool’s attack, and he fully delivered on his defensive duties. You couldn’t ask for much more except for maybe some added potency to his final ball.

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Fabinho – 7

Hendo’s suspension opened the door for Fabinho to step up and stake his claim for more regular football. While he wasn’t excellent, he did enough to suggest that he should be afforded more opportunities, particularly in the upcoming schedul, even if he declined as the game went on.

He added a much-needed solidity and nastiness to the Liverpool midfield, which can be invaluable in games as intense as this one. He used his strength to great effect, regularly broke up play, and made some great tackles, but he’s still miles away from the player we hoped we were signing. There’s evidence of improvement though, so things bode well.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6

Many were calling for Klopp to give Naby Keita the chance to replace Gini, as the manager did for Fabinho as Hendo’s replacement. However, Klopp chose to stick with the Dutchman, and I think it’s the right decision, for now.

While Gini still wasn’t as good as he’d been earlier in the season, he had a solid game and played an important role throughout. His combination with Fabinho seemed to work well, and his work-rate was as high as ever. As is often the case with Gini, we just needed to see more.

Bobby Firmino – 3

Bobby’s not just out of form, he’s gradually getting worse. This is a real worry. It’s difficult to say what the cause is, as there are a number of explanations that all make sense singularly and collectively, such as his changed role, but that doesn’t explain his performance against PSG for example.

The cause can be debated, but the symptoms can’t. Poor passing and wayward shooting, and they were certainly on show against Everton. He’s still capable of a nice pass and a stinging shot, but they come far too infrequently, as most of the time he’s simply been gifting possession to the opposition.

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Xherdan Shaqiri – 6

Everybody said in the wake of the PSG game that Shaqiri should’ve started and must play against Everton. Well, Klopp listened to the latter part at least.

However, Shaq wasn’t able to make his Merseyside Derby debut one to remember, as he drifted in and out of the game. He also spurned a clear, and arguably easy, chance to score in the first half, which would’ve changed the direction of the game drastically. His passing most mostly good though, including one cross that nearly led to a goal.

Sadio Mane – 7

Mane’s still the only Reds attacker that even vaguely resembles himself from last season. Like everyone else, his finishing isn’t good enough at the moment, but he’s still creating chances for himself and others to at least a similar level to the last campaign.

He did so on three clear occasions in the match, once with a nice ball that just didn’t reach Salah, and twice for himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t hit the target either time and can look back with some bitterness that it wasn’t his name being chanted by the Liverpool supporters for another Merseyside Derby winning goal or assist.

Mo Salah – 6

Nowhere near as bad as Bobby, but Mo suffered from similar problems with his passing, and in particular, his shooting. Although, even with the disappearance of his bountiful finishing from last season, he still causes problems for the opposition with his pace and movement.

He missed a big chance in the second half and was eventually subbed off for Sturridge in a move that would’ve never happened last season if we still needed a goal.

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Subs

Naby Keita – (on for Shaqiri 71′) 5

Had enough time to make an impact, but simply didn’t.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Salah 74′) 6

Didn’t do much more, but had some sharp touches.

Divock Origi – (on for Firmino 84′) 10

It’s a lovely story that the kid whose development was stunted after a horror tackle against Everton was the one to redeem himself and send them home miserable. He somehow missed from only a yard or two out minutes before, but who’ll remember that? He chased down a nothing ball and was rewarded with the winner. I’m very happy for him, and hopefully this’ll lead to a rejuvenation of the player we saw a couple of seasons ago, although I’m cautiously pessimistic on that notion.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, and James Milner.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7

Klopp got his team selection right regardless of some less than inspiring individual performances. It’s not Klopp’s fault that most of the team didn’t bring their shooting boots, because on another night, we could’ve won by 3 or 4. Having said that, we probably didn’t deserve anything greater than a narrow win.

Klopp still has to figure out how to get these players performing to the levels of last season. In the Summer, we were hoping for improvement, but now we’re praying just for signs of life from our midfield and attack. The defence is outstanding, and you can’t help but feel that if our attack was back to their best, we could be the best team in the league, if not, the world.

It was somewhat surprising to see Milner left on the bench and Firmino being the last to be subbed off despite his terrible display, but who am I to question the German when he clearly knew what was going to happen with Origi all along. Neutrals and rivals might see his celebration as being over-the-top and disrespectful, but who can honestly say they wouldn’t want a manager with that amount of passion for his club?

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Talking Points

Alisson’s a Keeper

Alisson’s been generally solid since his arrival in backing up a strong defensive line, but took another step in the fans’ minds this week. The only moments where his skills have come into question so far have been when he’s made some questionable decisions with the ball at his feet.

No one has argued that he’s not good at keeping the ball out of the back of the net though, and he’s even had to save his own skin after some wayward passes. However, these last two games in particular have shown exactly why we spent so much money on him, and how important having a truly world-class goalie is.

He doesn’t only keep us in games such as this one where he’s frequently called into action, often pulling off downright unbelievable saves, but more importantly when he’s had nothing to do. So many times in previous years have Liverpool been undone by a late goal when the opposition slots home out of nowhere. Alisson stays focused however, and his value the team can be measured equally in those sorts of matches to the Everton game.

Kinks in the System

The 4-2-3-1 system works, despite what many are suggesting. The results make that point very clear. What isn’t working is certain individuals within the system.

That’s not to say that it couldn’t be tweaked to better suit the players that are struggling, but to suggest that the poor form of the likes of Firmino is entirely down to the new system and his changed role within it, is simply wrong. Bobby’s played as a deep 10 plenty of times before, both at Liverpool and earlier in his career. He also dropped deep plenty of times last season when he was playing as a 9.

A ‘new’ role doesn’t suddenly effect your passing and shooting. So what can be done? In my opinion, we’re missing playmaker, and Salah should be removed from the striking position. If Nabil Fekir signed in the Summer, I believe that he’d be playing at 10, Salah would still be on the right, and Bobby would be up top. There’s nothing we can do about that now, although the closest we can get to that would be to show more faith in Shaq and play him at 10, or take a big gamble on hoping Keita springs into life if he plays there for a few games in a row.

No Sleep Till Burnley

So it begins. The exciting, but taxing Christmas period. Having played midweek against PSG and Everton yesterday, Liverpool now have only 3 days until the Burnley game.

This is a theme that’ll more or less continue up until the Manchester City clash in January. We as fans love having games every three days, but it’s undoubtedly detrimental to the players, and only City really have the squad depth to rotate their entire XI from game to game without sacrificing too much potency.

There’s not much that can be done about it unfortunately. Next season we’re supposed to be getting a Winter break of sorts, but until then, we’ll have to power through. One thing that Everton’s admirable performance has shown is that there’ll be no easy games during this time, so Klopp will have to rotate with great caution.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 03/12/2018

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Liverpool vs Everton – Premier League Preview

After a depressing night in Paris, the Reds have to bounce back in the Premier League, and what better time to do so than in the Merseyside Derby?

Everton come into the game in great form and it’s commonly speculated that this’ll be the best and most competitive Merseyside Derby in years, especially considering the fact  that Marco Silva has got his side playing attacking football.

Let’s hope the Reds can give the Blues another miserable Christmas by beating them in what is still one of the most important games of the season.

Liverpool Team News and Predicted Lineup

lineup

Jordan Henderson misses the game through suspension, although many fans will view that as a blessing in disguise as Fabinho will likely be given the chance to make his mark. Adam Lallana is still unfit, while long-terms injuries to players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain the same.

Trent Alexander-Arnold will almost certainly return to the team, which means that Joe Gomez will rightfully shift to centre-back.

The rest of the team will be unchanged, save for the fact that Klopp will most likely switch back to the 4-2-3-1 that had been working so well recently. This’ll mean that Xherdan Shaqiri will come back into the team.

Everton Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Everton on the other hand have a mostly full-strength squad to pick from, and the only problems they face are which players to omit.

Everton’s back five have been as solid as a Blues defence has been in decades, and the same could arguably be said for their midfield. Although it’s questionable as to whether Silva will persevere with Bernard and Theo Walcott as the former is more of a central player, and the latter should arguably be dropped for Ademola Lookman on form.

Cenk Tosun may be one player who’d be unfortunate to miss out on the Derby, along with the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Mason Holgate.

Pre-Game Analysis

For once, Everton will certainly look to take the game to Liverpool from the first minute until the last, a draw would be enough, but the Blues will be looking to score and win, not just hang on for dear life.

That’s not to say that they wouldn’t sit back if they were to take the lead, so if the worst happened, it could be very difficult for Liverpool to find space and come back.

The flip side of that is that Everton will be far more open than in previous years in this fixture, so they may be susceptible to being hit on the counter if they try and go toe to toe with Liverpool.

Prediction

Both sides want the win badly, not just for bragging rights, but to kick off this hectic schedule with a win.

The momentum gained or lost from the fixture could have a significant impact on the direction of both clubs’ seasons, and the overall Premier League landscape, in particular, the title race.

Everton will play admirably, and it’ll be a thrilling game of back and forth, but Liverpool will take the day with a 2-0 victory.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 02/11/2018

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