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

lineup

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

lineup (1)

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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Leicester 1 – 2 Liverpool

Another Hard Fought Win

Liverpool again failed to produce a top-drawer performance, but still managed to achieve a gritty win.

Liverpool’s attack didn’t click regularly and the midfield organisation was erratic; fortunately though, the backline was mostly solid baring one glaring mistake.

Alisson’s horror moment was made less relevant by Mane’s opener and Firmino’s header, but the Reds will need to regroup and step up a gear after the international break.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 5:

Alisson produced several strong saves and pressure-relieving passes throughout the match, but ultimately, all of that was overshadowed by one moment of madness.

Alisson tried to dribble his way out of trouble and gifted possession to Iheanacho when a simple clearance was needed. Alisson accepted responsibility for the mistake though and assured fans that he won’t be making the same mistake in the future.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6:

Trent was targeted throughout the game by the Leicester attack, and while they did find some joy against him, he wasn’t supported enough by his teammates.

It’s a shame Trent has to travel with the England squad because he could use some more time on the training pitch.

Joe Gomez – 9:

This was propbably Joe’s best performance in his career, easily dealing with the pacy Demarai Gray, whilst covering his more experienced partner to produce an outstanding block against James Maddison.

His ability on the ball flew under the radar due to his defensive display, but he was able to retain possession consistently despite being put under pressure.

Virgil van Dijk – 6:

A bit of complacency has started to creep into VVD’s game, at times he was far too casual with and without the ball.

Most importantly, he almost let Maddison in to level the scores, and was partially at fault for the Alisson fiasco after misplacing a back pass wide of the goalkeeper.

Andy Robertson – 7:

Robbo’s linkup play for Mane’s goal was simply outstanding. Cutting in from the left, exchanging a flurry of short-passes and bursting through the back-line before laying it off.

To top his week off, he was made captain of the Scottish national side, fully deserved for a world-class competitor.

Jordan Henderson – 5:

Simply put, Liverpool’s skipper was not good enough, and the fact that the team’s passing and possession stats spiked after he was withdrawn speaks volumes.

Many fans didn’t notice that Hendo put both Gomez and VVD under pressure in the build up to Leicester’s goal by passing to them when they were surrounded despite the fact that Milner was free and calling for the ball.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6:

Gini moved back up into a more advanced role to accommodate Hendo’s inclusion, and his versatility was certainly on show.

His performance didn’t reach the heights of previous weeks, but he was reliable when called upon at both ends of the pitch.

James Milner – 6:

Milner was a victim of the shift in dynamics in the midfield; his own performance was fine but he suffered from being overrun due to the uncertainty and disorganisation around him.

Despite this, he notched another assist after delivering a tantalising cross into the path of Firmino.

Sadio Mane – 8:

Mane was a constant threat to Leicester’s defence and was rewarded with the opening goal.

His pressing was equally impressive and there’s no doubt that if Salah and Firmino start playing to his level, then last season’s achievements can be improved upon.

Mo Salah – 6:

Salah missed a glorious chance early on which set the tone for the performance that followed.

Although he’s being targeted more, Liverpool fan’s will be hoping that Salah can come back stronger after the international break.

Bobby Firmino – 7:

This was Firmino’s best performance of the new season as he too is slowly rediscovering his form of last season.

Off the ball, the Brazillian is better than anyone in the league, he just needs to dust off the cobwebs on the ball to get back to his best.

Subs

Xheridan Shaqiri – (on for Salah 70′) 7:

Shaq came on and helped see out the game with some intelligent decisions in vital moments.

Naby Keita – (on for Henderson 70′) 6:

His best contribution was his energy; in hindsight he should’ve started the game to exploit the half-spaces between Leicester’s defence and midfield.

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

Not enough time to make an impact.

Unused Subs – Mignolet, Moreno, Lallana, Sturridge

Jurgen Klopp – 5:

Taking Keita out of the starting lineup for Hendo was a bizarre decision. The midfield has been one of the bright points this season and didn’t need tweaking – certainly not in this game where dynamism was desperately needed.

Klopp didn’t help matters by waiting until the 70th minute to address the issue, but ultimately made the right call by bringing on Shaqiri and Keita instead of more conservative options that were available.

Front Three Still Scoring

Fans and pundits have rightly commented on the fact that Liverpool’s scintillating attack has yet to reach the heights of last season.

However, it is equally undeniable that despite their sub-par performances overall, they’ve still been scoring and winning matches.

Ultimately that is what matters most and it makes you wonder what they’ll be like when they do start playing better as a unit.

Winning Ugly

It’s an often repeated cliche, but it’s true, the best teams find a way to win even when they’re playing at their worst. Unfortunetly this cliche rarely used to apply to the Reds.

Liverpool have been far from outstanding in any of their first four games, and yet for the first time ever in the Premier League, they’ve taken maximum points from those fixtures.

Manchester City have arguably played better, yet they drew with Wolves and nearly did the same against Newcastle. Long may this very un-Liverpool trend continue.

Good Time for a Break?

Given the fact that we’re not playing well, it’d be easy to assume that the international break has come at a good time.

However, most of our players will be travelling with their national sides when we badly needed them on the training pitch working together to improve performances.

They’ll return to what could be the most important period of the season with games against Tottenham, PSG, Southampton, Chelsea, Chelsea again, then Napoli and Manchester City on the horizon.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 04/09/2018

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Leicester vs Liverpool – Preview

Final Game Before the International Break

After three wins on the bounce, Liverpool will be looking to make it 12 points from 12 as they travel away to Leicester.

Even with a couple of key absences the Foxes are a difficult opponent who are known for stealing scrappy wins and draws.

It’s up to the Reds to be more clinical than last week against Brighton because it’s far more difficult to defend a narrow lead away from home.

Leicester

Team News and Predicted Lineup

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The big news out of Leicester is the Jamie Vardy will miss the game through suspension, along with a couple of injuries to fringe players.

Vardy’s absence could change the dynamics of the game and Leicester could look to sit deeper because of it. However, both James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira have had excellent starts to the season and should not be overlooked.

Leicester could be vulnerable down the right side of their defence; Mane should has the pace and ability that could give Wes Morgan and Daniel Amartey nightmares.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineups

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Klopp will almost certainly stick with the same lineup that he has chose for the previous three fixtures.

However, some might argue that given the considerable threat that Harry Maguire poses in the air that one or both of Fabinho or Matip should start in place of Gini or Gomez respectively.

Whatever the case, Liverpool must be ready to adapt to whatever game plan Leicester chose to employ for this match and hit them hard with our pace and quality.

Pre-Game Analysis

Leicester have had a strong start to the season. They narrowly and unfortunately lost to Manchester United, impressively best Wolves, and then were able to fight their way to victory after a tough day in Southampton.

Aside from Maddison and Pereira, Papy Mendy has been playing well in midfield, but his partnership with Wilfried Ndidi will be tested by Liverpool’s midfield trio who have been outstanding.

However, Leicester are not particularly strong at the back, and so long as at least one of Liverpool’s front three show up, it should be enough to see a couple of goals hit the back of the net.

Prediction

Despite this, the result is far from a forgone conclusion and Leicester will be confident of a result, especially given the danger they possess from set-pieces along with Liverpool’s perceived frailty in that department.

Whoever scores the first goal will give their team a big advantage in this type of game, and so long as the defence and goalkeeper maintain their form, that team should be the Reds.

It will be tough and there will be some nervy moments, but Liverpool will head into the international break as 2-0 winners.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 25/08/2018

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Liverpool 1 – 0 Brighton

A Win’s a Win

Brighton at home should’ve been one of the most comfortable fixtures of the season on paper, but the Reds made harder work of it than needed.

Full credit to Brighton for putting up a strong fight as they tried to repeat their performance from the previous week against Manchester United, but Liverpool should’ve waltzed to victory instead of battling for it.

In all fairness if the goalkeeper didn’t have such a good game and our finishing was on point, the scoreline could’ve been far greater.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 8:

Alisson started the game as he finished the last, calm and in control. He even had the confidence to chip an oncoming attacker, but later he almost got caught out trying to be cheeky again.

A couple of good saves throughout the game including a wonder save to deny Pascal Gross late on would have been as relieving for his teammates as it was for the fans.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7:

Trent’s starting to get there, and hjis display against Brighton was a small reminder of what he’s capable of.

An amazing cross-field pass followed by a shot that rattled the crossbar combined with a solid defensive performance is why Clyne can’t get back into the team.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Many fans questioned Klopp’s decision to throw Gomez in the deep end by immediately starting him at centre back, but Joe’s been getting better and better.

His presence was felt even more than his partner VVD, which takes some doing. Their partnership is well and truly progressing.

Virgil van Dijk – 6.5:

By VVD’s standards, this was far from his best performance.

One under-hit backpass aside, he didn’t do a lot wrong, he just wasn’t as influential as we expect him to be.

Andy Robertson – 7.5:

You could practically copy and paste the comments about Robbo for every game.

He was a constant outlet down the left and left very few scraps for the opposition to feed on. Well and truly one of the most consistent performers at the club.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

Gini is looking undroppable at this moment.

He controlled the game excellently and clearly understands the role that Klopp wants him to play to a tee. That aspect in particular appears to be the main reason Fabinho hasn’t featured yet.

James Milner – 9 (Man of the Match):

Before the season started, many wondered how close Milner was to retirement, but incredibly he appears to still be improving.

Milner was everywhere against Brighton and it paid dividends as he dispossessed Yves Bissouma, leading to Salah’s goal.

Naby Keita – 6.5:

As talented as Keita clearly is, he has some ways to go before his is fully up to speed with Klopp’s system.

His passing and dribbling was just a beat off at times and he faded badly as the game went on.

Mo Salah – 6.5:

Again the match-winner, again below par.

Salah is still miles away from the player who exploded into the Premier League last season, but he’s still scoring goals and winning games so it’s difficult to complain.

Sadio Mane – 6:

Unlike Salah, Mane has been one of our best performers so far this season, but he had a bad day against Brighton.

He just couldn’t quite find the right pass or make the right run throughout the game, but there’s no reason to worry about it carrying on for too much longer.

Bobby Firmino – 6.5:

What a world we live in when our mighty front three are the worst performers in a home victory.

Much like Salah, Bobby needs time to get back to his best, it is also clear that teams are targeting him more now than ever before.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – (on for Keita ’66) 7:

Hendo again came on to secure the result and he did so faultlessly.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Mane ’79) N/A:

No time to make an impact.

Joel Matip – (on for TAA -89) N/A:

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs – Mignolet, Moreno, Lallana, Shaqiri

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

The best thing that can be said about Klopp in this game was that it was further evidence of the winning mentality that he has slowly built into his team.

He didn’t get the best out of them in this game, but the three points is really all that matters in the end.

Talking Points

Aching Attack

It should’ve been expected that it would take time for Bobby, Mo and Mane to replicate their unbeleivable form of last season.

However, many fans would’ve hoped that Brighton at home would’ve been the perfect game for everything to click back into gear, it wasn’t to be though.

Regardless, Liverpool’s perfect start to the season rolls on and you have to wonder what the team will look like when everything’s running at top gear.

Rotation and Consistency

Klopp’s been fortunate enough to pick the same team for three weeks running, something which always helps consistency.

However, Brighton at home should’ve been an oppertunity for the likes of Sturridge, Shaqiri and Fabinho to show their qualities.

It also would’ve had the double effect of giving some other players a rest before the upcoming international break where players tend to get knocked around by long-distance travel and sub-par pitches.

City Drop Points

Equally important to Liverpool’s win was Manchester City drawing, and almost losing to, Wolves.

Of course it’s far too early to have any real effect on the title race, but it surely will give the Reds a confidence boost and show the rest of the league that there are chinks in City’s armour if you’re brave enough to look for them.

Elsewhere, Chelsea and Tottenham are showing their credentials as dark horses, but you’d think that by May they’ll be fighting for 3rd and 4th, not silverware.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 01/09/2018

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