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 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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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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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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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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Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Liverpool

A Big Hurdle Cleared for the Reds

Palace away is one of the most difficult fixtures of the season, and thankfully, the Reds walked away with all three points.

The hosts made life difficult by narrowing their formation and forcing the ball wide; in fact, they almost took the lead when Andros Townsend rattled the crossbar.

Ultimately though, Liverpool battled their way to a deserved victory. Mo Salah was correctly given a penalty for James Milner to slot home just before half-time, and Sadio Mane finished the game off in the dying seconds, rounding the ‘keeper after Palace were justly reduced to 10 men.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 8:

This is why we spent so much money on the Brazilian.

As predicted, Palace proved to be a real test for the ‘keeper, but he passed with flying colours with both his shot-stopping and distribution.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6:

Similar to his performance against West Ham, Trent was reliable in defence, but wasteful going forward.

Palace identified him as a weak link and funneled the play down his side. Unfortunately TAA did little to prove them wrong; some more time to get back up to speed is required.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Dejan Lovren is going to have a tough time getting back into the team if Joe keeps this up.

Positionally he was a bit rash at times, but this is to be expected of the young lad. It’s exciting to see the partnership he’s building with Virgil van Dijk.

Virgil van Dijk – 9 (Man of the Match):

More of the same from arguably the best defender in the league.

These are the types of games that Liverpool have historically failed to see out, but the victory never seemed in danger with VVD taking charge.

Andy Robertson – 7:

Robbo had less to do than the targeted TAA, but when called upon he was solid.

His excellent linkup play with Mane has carried over from last season and hopefully Trent will be able to forge a similar partnership with Mo.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7:

Gini has slowly become an extremely reliable defensive midfielder. Who would’ve thought he’d be keeping Fabinho out of the team?

Despite the commentators chirping about Gini’s away record, the Dutchman’s performance was of a good standard.

James Milner – 6:

Milly scored the crucial first goal with a calmly taken penalty, but unfortunately that was the highlight of his game.

He didn’t do much wrong, he just failed to influence the game as much as he did in the previous fixture; perhaps this is the opening Fabinho needs.

Naby Keita – 7:

Keita had an up and down game, giving away cheap balls and then producing unbelievable twists, turns and lobbed passes.

If this was a 7/10 performance from the Guinean, the league won’t know what hit them once he hits top gear.

Mo Salah – 6:

Salah won the penalty, drew a foul to get Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent-off, and assisted Mane’s goal. Yet his overall performance was decidedly average by his own lofty standards.

A proper goal or two will go a long way towards settling the Egyptian into his second season.

Sadio Mane – 8:

Mane is the only one of the front three to have immediately carried last season’s form into this one.

His fantastic goal aside, he was causing the Palace defence problems all night with his darting runs and unpredictable passes. Hopefully his teammates catch up soon.

Bobby Firmino – 6:

Even when our Bobby’s not at his best, he’s a crucial part of the team’s buildup and structure.

Once he gets more minutes under his belt, the goals, assists and overall linkup play will surely follow.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – 7 (on for Milner 67′):

Hendo did a solid job of helping to see the game out.

Adam Lallana – N/A (on for Keita 87′):

No time to make an impact.

Daniel Sturridge – N/A (on for Firmino 93′)

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Many were surprised and nervous when Fabinho was omitted from the squad, but ultimately Klopp was justified in trusting his midfield from last week.

Yet again, Klopp’s half-time talk had a resounding effect on the game as his squad saw out the remaining minutes when in previous years they may have crumbled.

Talking Points

Letting Go of the Past

While it’s relieving to gain a positive result from a tricky fixture early in the season, the signs for the future are far more important.

Aside from the brilliant displays from the defence and goalkeeper, the fact that the midfield can now comfortably control and manage games is extremely pleasing.

We’re going to see a lot more 2-0 victories this season, and far fewer 4-2 results as the games roll on, which could be a deciding factor in the title race.

Countering Corners

Last week West Ham were able to create a couple of chances from corners, but in this game those chances were not only eradicated, they were reversed.

Mane and Salah regularly broke free and created dangerous moments when Palace committed their defenders forward.

Looking ahead, this will have the double effect of creating another goal-scoring outlet, as well as causing the opposition to think twice before relying too heavily on set-pieces.

More to Come

The likes of Trent, Bobby, Mo and Keita are yet to get fully up to speed, and Shaqiri and Sturridge haven’t been given a chance to carry on from their brilliant pre-season performances.

Even Klopp himself noted that the attack is not on par with the defence so far, which is not something you’d associate with a Liverpool team.

Once everything clicks, and with a bit of luck, then the sky truly is the limit for this side. Maybe they’ll even be strong enough to challenge the immense Manchester City.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 21/08/2018

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Liverpool 4 – 0 West Ham

Perfect Start for Ambitious Reds

Liverpool fans knew a good start would be crucial to pushing on this season, and the players delivered on a dream first day of the campaign.

Mo Salah inevitably opened the scoring after a combative opening passage. Sadio Mane made it 2-0 just before the half-time whistle, and then doubled his tally in the second-half from a blatantly offside position. Daniel Sturridge wrapped up the rout with a goal from his first touch after coming off the bench.

West Ham put up a good fight though and the score doesn’t reflect how much more organised they were than in the past; however, ultimately they were outclassed in all aspects of the game.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 6.5:

Alisson was hardly involved on his debut, but he wouldn’t have minded only having to make two saves.

His ability with his feet was on show for the fans to see; however, he did under-hit one lobbed pass to Andy Robertson, thankfully the resulting chance led to nothing.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6.5:

Young Trent was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up, and a shaky start had many wondering if Jurgen Klopp had thrown the lad back into the mix too early.

Despite over-hitting a few crosses, Trent grew into the game and showed good vision. His defending was largely faultless and he was the main cause of West Ham’s star man Felipe Anderson being hooked off after 62 minutes. TAA also almost scored a spectacular free kick but was denied by a wonderful save by Łukasz Fabiański.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5:

No one questions the world record fee that Liverpool spent to buy the Dutchman now. In every game his calm, composed, commanding defending is present.

VVD did an excellent job of organsing those around him, maintaining their concentration levels, and even chipping into the attack by bringing the ball out from the back in the absence of Fabinho.

Joe Gomez – 7:

This was always going to be one of only a few chances the young man would be guaranteed to show his qualities at centre-back before Dejan Lovren’s return, and he took his chance brilliantly.

One lapse in concentration against Marko Arnautovic almost cost the team, but this hiccup aside, he looked more than capable of developing into a long-term partner for VVD.

Andy Robertson – 7.5:

Robbo carried on his fine pre-season form by laying on yet another assist, this time to Salah for the opener.

The Scot caused the opposistion headaches for the full 90 minutes. His potency when overlapping also allowed Sadio Mane the freedom to move into a more central position, where he was able to score twice.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

Gini took over from Fabinho at the base of midfield for the game, and made things difficult for the Brazilian to return next week.

His use of the ball was exceptional and he was certainly in the top three performers on the day. The only thing missing was a goal as he sprayed a couple of half-chances wide.

James Milner – 8 (Man of the Match):

Milner didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon and was a constant thorn in the side of the Hammers.

Any doubts over Milner’s role for the season need to be reassessed, as the experienced Yorkshireman is showing no signs of slowing down yet.

Naby Keita – 8:

Keita almost never looks flustered, regardless of how many players are trying to close him down. 9 times out of 10, he glides past them and picks out the right option.

The Guinean gave the home fans mere glimpses of his potential and yet still produced a mesmerising debut.

Mo Salah – 6:

Despite scoring the crucial first goal, Salah was a step off the pace for most of the game and probably should’ve been substituted instead of Mane.

His passes were consistently coming half a second too late, but like Trent, this is merely a sign of rust which will undoubtedly be shaken off sooner rather than later.

Sadio Mane – 8:

Mane displayed his underrated finishing with both of his goals, despite the fact that his second was clearly offside.

His unpredictable movement was what hurt West Ham the most though, and this combined with the developing form of those around him could see this season as Mane’s best yet.

Bobby Firmino – 7:

Bobby is another who is yet to find top gear, but that was to be expected after such a grueling season followed by a long campaign with Brazil.

Regardless of this fact, he still worked hard for the team and created numerous chances for them.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – 6.5 (on for Firmino – 69′):

Hendo managed the game well when he came on, but it’s questionable what his role will be this season given the strength of Liverpool’s midfield.

Xherdan Shaqiri – N/A (on for Mane – 81′):

Unfortunately, Shaq was brought on too late to make an impact.

Daniel Sturridge – 10 (on for Keita – 89′):

Studge scored an uplifting goal after only being on the pitch for a few seconds. The return of his famous celebration brought broad smiles to the faces of all Reds.

Unused Subs: Loris Karius, Nathaniel Clyne, Fabinho and Adam Lallana

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Klopp managed to bring out exactly the type of performance that he would’ve been looking for from his players.

His half-time talk saw the Reds come out even hungrier for the closing 45 minutes, although he should’ve looked to bring on Shaq with 30 minutes remaning, rather than Hendo.

Talking Points

Good Signs for the Future

Keita was the most notable debutant on the day, but even though we didn’t get to see the best of Shaq, Alisson or Fabinho, what was on show was phenomenal.

Once the front three are back to their best, Keita will be able to unlock their goal-scoring potential to an even higher degree than last season. Fabinho’s return will only aid this process as his stability will allow Keita to be more adventurous.

Shaq will undoubtedly be introduced into this equation as well at some point, which is a mouth-watering proposition given his pre-season form. Likewise, Alisson will be able to launch counter-attacks with his immense ability with his feet against teams who don’t defend as deep as West Ham.

A Need to Stay Grounded

Despite this optimism, it’s important to recognise that Liverpool are still several steps away from getting back to their best form of last season.

It could take weeks, if not months, for this process to complete, so in the mean time it’s crucial that we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves and just take things one game at a time.

Manchester City look to have not lost a step in their time-off, so the quicker everyone can settle back in, the better.

Big Test at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace looked extremely impressive as they defeated Fulham, despite the Cottagers being fancied to shake the league up on their return to top flight.

They sorted out their defensive frailties from the first half to produce a convincing 2-0 win where aerial dominance, and lighting fast counters reigned supreme.

A proper analysis of their threat will be done in the preview of next week’s game, but don’t be fooled, Palace are no pushovers.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 14/08/2018

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Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Liverpool

Liverpool Lucky to Win

Crystal Palace will undoubtedly feel hard done by after squandering countless chances to secure a vital victory against the Reds.

Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha in particular will rue their missed opportunities as they ultimately kept Liverpool in the game until Mane and Salah were able to steal the win.

Pessimism aside, it’s another example of this Liverpool team breaking bad habits, as it’s rare to see the Reds win a game when they don’t deserve it, unlike rivals Manchester United.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

 

Karius was quite naive and clumsy when coming out to pressure Wilfried Zaha, and it cost his team what could’ve been a decisive penalty.

He bounced back well though and made a couple of strong saves to help keep the Reds in it.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5:

Another pacy winger has gotten the better of the young Scouser; Zaha was turning him inside out all game.

Going forward though, TAA was a useful asset, but you have to wonder how he will cope with the challenge of Leroy Sane in the Champions League.

Joel Matip – 4:

 

Quite simply, Matip’s time to prove himself is quickly running out as Benteke bullied him from start to finish.

Once again he was incredibly shaky at the back, and surely Lovren will have to take his place against Manchester City.

Virgil van Dijk – 6:

The Dutchman didn’t do much wrong himself, but his one glaring weakness was on show at Selhurst Park.

He spends an awful lot of time telling others what to do and where to go, but sometimes you need to take charge yourself and deal with situations even if someone else should’ve already done it.

Andy Robertson – 8 (Man of the Match):

 

Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson are easily the first three names on the team sheet these days.

The Scot was outstanding again and coolly provided the winning assist for Mo Salah late in the second-half.

Jordan Henderson – 4:

 

Hendo struggled badly for the vast majority of the game to deal with Palace’s pressing game and to provide any meaningful contribution going forward.

Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to get a more influential player in the summer to sit at the base of the midfield.

Gini Wijnaldum – 3:

 

It’s difficult to asses Gini’s performance because he did next to nothing, it was easy to forget he was on the pitch until he was subbed off.

He must be better against City, as he will again be tasked with the job of harassing the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.

James Milner – 7:

 

Milner was by far the best out of a poor midfield, at least he was able to provide the front three with some amount of service.

He helped open the scoring with an intelligent low cross for Mane to put away after wrong-footing Wan-Bissaka.

Mo Salah – 7:

 

This was certainly a more quiet game from Salah than fans are used to, and yet he still scored the winner.

A combination of a good defensive performance from Palace and a poor midfield performance from Liverpool restricted the Egyptian, but when he finally got his chance, he took it with impressive composure.

Sadio Mane – 7:

 

This game from Mane perfectly summarised his season so far, full of ups and downs.

Mane wasted a chance to score when he chose to dive, he then had a goal correctly ruled out for offside before finally opening the scoring after some excellent movement in the box.

Roberto Firmino – 6:

 

Firmino struggled without any form of service from those around him.

He worked as hard as ever though, and will undoubtedly be chomping at the bit to be more involved against City.

Subs

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 (on for Wijnaldum – 64′):

Ox was better than Wijnaldum in the midfield, but not good enough.

Bizarrely he was playing as though he was saving himself for City, as opposed to working his socks off to secure his place.

Adam Lallana – N/A (on for Mane – 65′):

 

Sadly Lallana lasted only a few minutes before coming off injured.

Hopefully, it’s less serious than it appeared, but it would seem his season, and perhaps World Cup hopes are over.

 

Dejan Lovren – 6 (on for Lallana – 70′):

 

Lovren was solid as Klopp changed to a back three.

Matip’s performance should see Lovren return to the starting lineup soon.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Danny Ings

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

Like his team, Klopp’s performance can be judged separately over the two halves.

Lovren should’ve started ahead of Matip, and the same might be said for the Ox and Wijnaldum; likewise, it’s unfathomable that he wouldn’t have realised Palace’s game plan would be to unleash Zaha against TAA.

Thankfully Klopp changed things in the second half, and his decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation ultimately stunted Palace’s attack and won the game.

Talking Points

TAA Roasted Again

No one wants to be too harsh on the youngster, particularly after such an encouraging season that has been mostly faultless.

However, it is clear that fast, direct-running wingers can get the better of him, and this must be addressed one way or another before the game against City.

Unfortunately, Joe Gomez is injured and Nathaniel Clyne is unfit, so the options are limited, however perhaps Emre Can or Milner could slot in, otherwise Trent will need more support, potentially leaving gaps in other areas.

Klopp’s Adjustments

Jurgen Klopp won in his 100th Premier League game for Liverpool in what has been a thoroughly enjoyable although trophyless start to his stint.

Klopp’s ability to read a game and understand how to adjust his team accordingly paid dividends here, and he will need to do it again against City.

For example, if he leaves TAA at right back, he could exploit City’s eagerness to attack him by encouraging Salah to stay up as high as possible and drop into the space vacated by their overlapping left back.

Season Defining Run Ahead

Starting on Thursday, Liverpool face City at Anfield, Everton away and City away in the space of a mere seven days.

Despite being the Merseyside Derby, the games against City are far more important at this stage of the season, particularly because Chelsea bow find themselves 10 points adrift of the Reds in 5th place.

If Liverpool can emerge victorious following that manic week, then the possibility of a second place finish and a sixth Champions League title could well be on the cards.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 02/04/2018

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Liverpool 5 – 0 Watford

Salah Slaughters The Hornets

If there’s anything that makes up for a loss against Manchester United, it’s a big win at home the following week.

From start to finish, The Reds annihilated their opponents, and on another day the final score could’ve been doubled.

Mo Salah opened the scoring with some individual brilliance, followed by a simple tap-in from an Andy Robertson cross. Firmino sealed the win with an unorthodox finish before Salah netted two more to take his league tally up to 28.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

Karius had very little to do, a testament to the brilliance of the team in front of him.

One free-kick rattled his crossbar, but other than that, the German simply had to recycle possession.

Joe Gomez – 7:

Jurgen Klopp wisely allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to step out of the limelight for this game after his mistakes last week, Gomez more than rose to the occasion though.

It seems that Gomez is the better defender, but TAA is better going forward, it would be wise to rotate the two in games that need one trait more than the other.

Joel Matip – 6:

 

Dejan Lovren was also omitted after last week’s nightmare, and Matip took his chance to stake a claim to become a regular.

He appeared far calmer and assured than in previous games, despite a couple of wayward passes.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5:

 

VVD was back to his commanding, organising best against Watford.

While The Hornets didn’t do much to test the defence, part of that was to do with VVD being proactive and not allowing them to get started.

Andy Robertson – 9:

 

Even if Liverpool were given an unlimited budget, it’d be difficult to justify replacing the Scot with just about anyone.

He defended superbly and his cross for Salah’s second was utterly sublime.

Jordan Henderson – 5:

 

The captain is such a frustrating player to watch at times.

He played some unbelievably good passes under pressure to put Mane and Salah through, but also gave the ball away needlessly when there was no pressure.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6:

 

Gini played well, but it’s clear that he is either unfit or just rusty after missing the last few weeks.

He was mostly tidy in possession and reliable in defence, but ultimately failed to truly impact the game, even with the dominance some of his teammates showed.

Emre Can – 6:

 

Can came off early due to a back injury, but Klopp later assured fans it was “not too serious”.

Before coming off, he made some good runs and linked up well with the players around him.

Mo Salah – 10 (Man of the Match):

 

It’s not been since Luis Suarez was banging in goals that Liverpool fans have been so excited to see a player week in, week out.

His first and third goals were particularly impressive, with his ball control somewhat resembling the Uruguayan at times.

Sadio Mane – 7.5:

 

Mane’s greatest strength this season has been his selflessness.

He works tirelessly for the team, and rarely goes himself if the option to pass gives the team a greater chance of scoring, as displayed for Salah’s hat-trick goal.

Roberto Firmino – 8:

 

Firmino’s skill and industry perfectly rounds out this lethal front-three.

His linkup play and defending was typically on point, and his round-the-back flick to score his goal was masterful.

Subs

James Milner – 7 (on for Can – 26′):

 

It will be such a shame if Milner moves on at the end of the season.

He was again a calming, and yet potent influence in the midfield.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 (on for Wijnaldum – 70′):

 

The Ox was clearly keen to make up for last week.

Perhaps he was trying too hard to make amends, but regardless, his energy helped Liverpool push on and continue punishing Watford.

Danny Ings – 7.5 (on for Firmino – 79′):

 

Every Liverpool fan was willing him on to score in front of The Kop.

Unfortunately, he was denied twice by Orestis Karnezis, but the second time was enough for Salah to tap in the rebound.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Ragnar Klavan, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alberto Moreno

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9:

It was imperative that Klopp set his team up to instantly respond to the questions that were raised at Old Trafford.

He made bold, but necessary changes to the lineup, and that paid dividends.

As time goes on, it’s becoming clear that the German is slowly but surely eradicating bad habits that had become ingrained in the club for many years before he arrived.

Talking Points

Bouncing Back

It happened after losing to Manchester City, then against Tottenham and now against Manchester United.

It’s becoming a running theme for Liverpool, and one that will serve The Reds well in the long-term chase for silverware.

If Liverpool can go on another unbeaten run, then a top-four finish will be certain, and a good showing in the Champions League likely.

Attacking Records

Hendo and Mane both achieved individual milestones by making their 200th and 50th Liverpool appearances respectively.

But it was Firmino and Salah’s record-breaking goal tallys that stood out and will surely make the headlines.

This is Firmino’s greatest goal-scoring season to date, and Salah now moves into pole position for the league’s golden boot, four ahead of Harry Kane and a whopping seven ahead of Sergio Aguero.

International Break

The international break is never welcome as it is an unnecessary interruption and chance for players to get injured.

It has the potential to derail form and momentum, so Klopp will be hoping all of his players come back fresh and can pick up from where they left off.

The good news is that it will give a few players the chance to recover from niggling injuries, and others some much needed match fitness.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 18/03/2018

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Manchester United 2 – 1 Liverpool

Disappointing Defeat for Reds Against the Old Enemy

Liverpool fans were left devastated by the result and poor performance at Old Trafford, as Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku exposed both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren.

Jose Mourinho, for all of his faults, again demonstrated why he is considered one of the very best managers of his generation as he put on a tactical masterclass.

Both of United’s goals come from route one football that was woefully dealt with by the Liverpool defence, and despite some poor refereeing and a couple of strong penalty shouts, Liverpool have no one to blame but themselves.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

Karius could do nothing about either of Rashford’s well-taken goals, and was virtually untested for the rest of the game.

He wanted to come forward for a corner late in the game, but was oddly ushered back by Jurgen Klopp.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 2:

 

In games like these, it’s important to keep context in mind, TAA is a young player who is naturally a midfielder; he also didn’t receive the help he needed from those around him.

However, it is undeniable that his inexperience showed as Rashford targeted him successfully.

Dejan Lovren – 3:

 

Oh dear, he’s back, the old Lovren is back.

Unlike TAA, Lovren is an experienced player in his natural position, and despite spending all week talking about how he was going to manhandle Lukaku, he was embarrassed by the Belgian regularly.

Virgil van Dijk – 4: 

 

VVD didn’t fare much better than his partner, but he did improve and was more comfortable after floundering under United’s initial wave.

He unbelievably missed a free header from only a couple of yards in the first-half, but was better at handling Lukaku; it’s a mystery why Klopp didn’t have him doing this from the start.

Andy Robertson – 6: 

It’s a testament to his form that Mourinho avoided his flank for most of the night.

Robbo couldn’t do anything about the goals and was able to whip in a few dangerous crosses, but no one was alert enough to get on the end of them.

 

Emre Can – 4: 

Despite what some have argued, Can was another who had a poor day at the office.

He was outmuscled by Lukaku and then simply gave up for United’s second goal; he also almost allowed them to score a third when he didn’t track the run of Juan Mata.

James Milner – 6: 

Milner’s tried and worked hard, but he couldn’t do enough to turn the game around for his team.

He looked one of the more likely players to create something as he drove the team forward and kept finding runners with his passes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 3: 

 

Simply put, the Ox looked lost.

It’s bizarre that a player that had been so influential in the last few weeks could become so anonymous overnight; his constant mishandling of possession drew the fury of Klopp.

Mo Salah – 5: 

 

It’s difficult to criticise the Egyptian after such a fine debut season, and the fact that he was completely marked out of the game.

Mourinho knew that keeping Salah under wraps would be key to winning and both Nemanja Matic and Eric Bailley did just that to perfection.

Sadio Mane – 4:

 

The fact that United focused so heavily on Salah meant that Mane was afforded far more time and space than he normally would against such a defensive team; unfortunately, he did nothing with i1t.

He gave the ball away countless times, and despite an improved second-half, he rarely looked dangerous.

Roberto Firmino – 7 (Man of the Match): 

The best of the worst might be a more accurate description.

Firmino did everything to drag his team over the line, but no one else seemed to show the same desire and fight as the Brazilian.

Subs

Adam Lallana – 5 (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain – 62′): 

 

Lallana is still a long way off from getting back to his best.

He tried hard to unlock the defence, but he just doesn’t look the same players as he was before the injury.

Gini Wijnaldum – 5 (on for Alexander-Arnold – 80′): 

 

Club captain Jordan Henderson neither started, nor came on as a substitute; whether this is because he’s fallen out of favour, or was simply unfit remains to be seen.

In his place, Gini came on, but couldn’t change the result.

Dominic Solanke – 5 (on for Robertson – 84′): 

 

It’s concerning that The Reds have to turn to an u23s striker with no EPL goals to his name to try and grab the winner at Old Trafford.

The youngster did nothing wrong, but having a decent winger or an experienced striker on the bench may have given Liverpool a better chance of stealing a result.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 5:

Team selection was not an issue, even though in hindsight Lovren and TAA were poor, they were in excellent form in the buildup.

However, it is clear that Klopp should’ve had VVD marking Lukaku, and not the dodgy Croatian, if VVD won the headers that Lovren missed, then United would never have scored their goals.

Ultimately though, it was the players who let Klopp down, and he will need to pick them up in order to finish the season on a high.

Talking Points

What It Means

 

In my preview, I predicted a comfortable win for the better team, Liverpool.

In reality, United were the deserved victors and really should’ve won by more in the end, despite being bailed out by some poor refereeing.

Does this result mean that United are in fact the better team? I don’t think so. Liverpool will use this experience and come back stronger; Liverpool are a club on the rise whereas United are declining.

Lessons Learned

 

This is a young team that hasn’t been together very long, and games like these will only benefit them in the long run.

Klopp too will have surely learnt something about his own team from the opposition, as much as Lovren and TAA were at fault for the goals, under Klopp’s system it is not too difficult to isolate individuals and force errors.

It’s clear that there are still holes in this squad and that certain players are, at least not yet, at the standard that Liverpool need.

Bounce Back

 

It’s not all doom and gloom though, Liverpool fought back valiantly where in years gone by United could’ve on to score two or three more.

Liverpool must now move on from the game and use it to go on another good run of form as they did after the defeats against Tottenham and Swansea earlier in the season.

As much as all Liverpool fans are disappointed, it’s important to keep things in perspective and remain behind the team.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea1111111111111111111

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 07/03/2018

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