Huddersfield 0 – 1 Liverpool

Reds Steal Ugly Win

Liverpool’s return to Premier League actions was successful without being beautiful against a plucky, but struggling, Huddersfield side.

In response to the injuries picked up over the break, Jurgen Klopp made changes to the starting lineup and system as a whole. These changes saw the job done, but nothing more.

Mo Salah slotted home a comfortable finish to seal the result, but Huddersfield fans could be forgiven for feeling hard done by after hitting the woodwork and having a strong penalty shout turned down.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 6:

Alisson was rarely called into action, and the post pulled off a far more impressive save than anything the Brazilian was forced to do.

There was one moment of panic when a clearance was charged down by an onrushing Huddersfield attacker, but the recovered well and didn’t let it effect his game.

Joe Gomez – 7.5:

If Gomez starting at right-back was a surprise against Manchester City, then it happening again against Huddersfield was a downright shock. Is this a sign that Klopp prefers Dejan Lovren over Gomez at centre-back?

Regardless, Joe was outstanding again as we’ve come to expect from him, and a lovely pass in the build-up to Salah’s goal highlighted his considerable ability on the ball.

Dejan Lovren – 5.5:

What a shame. After such a promising return against City, Lovren looked panicky in his second game back.

A bad mistake almost led to him losing the ball in the penalty area, and he reacted woefully to another late Huddersfield chance. Gomez must return to centre-back for future Premier League games.

Virgil van Dijk – 6.5:

Some may argue that VVD deserves a higher rating, but he simply wasn’t tested enough to warrant anything above what he’s been given.

Moreover, a terrible air-swing late on in the game almost cost Liverpool two points; but in fairness, he was solid apart from this lone mistake.

Andy Robertson – 7:

There isn’t much to say about this performance from Robbo. Solid but decidedly unspectacular.

His best work came in defence as he often did at least two players-worth of work as he received minimal support from Adam Lallana.

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Jordan Henderson – 6:

Hendo, like Lovren, was unable to build on his promising display against City to the extent that fans were hoping for.

His passing was generally good though, and unusually, he was often the midfielder who looked most willing to seek out a killer ball for the attackers. Subbed off with a tight hamstring at half-time, the international break is still haunting us!

James Milner – 6:

Milner wasn’t at his best against the Terriers, but that was to be expected after returning early from his own hamstring injury.

He was rightfully hooked off in the second-half, but it’s arguable that he should’ve come off earlier to either give us a better chance of getting an important second goal, or closing the game down.

Adam Lallana – 5:

It was nice to see Lallana back in action, but he was understandably some way off of the pace. It’s highly doubtful he would’ve started if we didn’t have so many injuries.

Some lovely touches aren’t enough to warrant a place in the team, he failed to perform any of his defensive duties and wasn’t particularly inspiring in attack either.

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Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 8:

Sadio Mane was unsurprisingly not risked after fracturing his thumb, and the benefactor was Shaqiri who got a rare start in his place.

Shaq looked the most threatening of any player on the pitch both with his direct dribbling as well as his use of the ball. His passing and crossing abilities are notably underrated by many.

Mo Salah – 6.5:

Not for the first time this season, Salah underperformed despite scoring an important, and in truth, impressive goal.

The finish was excellent, but aside from that he missed a few chances to add to his tally and wasted passing opportunities to allow others to add to theirs. One goal clearly isn’t enough to relight his fire.

Daniel Sturridge – 6:

Unlike Shaqiri, Studge completely wasted his big chance to impress the boss after putting in a pretty poor performance.

He’d been excellent recently, and he showed decent creativity, but he was wasteful on the day. Wasteful is not usually a word you’d associate with such a deadly finisher and accomplished creator.

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Subs

Gini Wijnaldum – 8 (on for Henderson 46′):

Could’ve been man of the match if he started. Gini completely took control of the midfield from the first minute of coming on.

Fabinho – 7 (on for Lallana 69′):

This was Fabinho’s best performance since pre-season as he showed his class on the ball with some simple, but effective passing. Some neat tackles to help see the game out was a welcome sight as well.

Firmino – 5 (on for Milner 77′):

Firmino didn’t look himself. He may have been tired, or simply not up for it on the day, but either way, he did very little right.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Divock Origi

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

It’s hard to give Klopp a reasonable rating for this game, as while he couldn’t coax a good performance out of his team, it wasn’t his fault.

The rotating players and resulting adjusted system resulted in a win, and on another day with last year’s attackers, we could’ve put away five or six more chances.

Klopp needs to sort this out sooner rather than later, because we can’t keep scraping results forever, especially when City are battering just about all of their opponents.

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Talking Points

Salah Scores

It’s hard to be too critical of the Egyptian King despite not being at his best. It was never likely he’d hit the ground running at the pace that he finished last season, and statically, he’s roughly on par with last season after the same games.

My issue is slightly different. Everyone’s had their say on his fitness, confidence, and finishing, but what concerns me the most is the basics. One of the things that made our attack so special last season was their almost telepathic connection.

This season though, they can hardly string a couple of passes together. It’s baffling, but it’s not just Mo, it’s Bobby and Mane too. They need to sort it out quickly.

Doing it Tough

It’s a strange feeling to finally have a rock-solid defence that’s only shipped three goals in nine games, and yet our attackers are barely scoring.

We’ve been crying out for clean-sheets to match our goal tallies, but now we’re having to scrape by on one or two goals and relying on the defence to make it enough.

Klopp was furious throughout the game over the countless opportunities that were thrown away. One of the things that must’ve frustrated him the most was that just about everyone was guilty of it, rather than just one or two players.

Navigating Through the Upcoming Games

Ultimately, despite all the moaning, we’re still equal top, and wins are what matter most. Klopp will have to carefully select his lineups and tactics for this upcoming period.

Given our injuries and relative poor-form, we can’t afford mistakes, and we need players to start standing up and being counted. Shaqiri’s display was an encouraging sign of this, but he can’t be the only one.

It’s a strange time to be a Liverpool fan as there is so much reason for optimism, and equal reasons for concern. Dropping points in either or both the Premier League and Champions League could undo all of our hard work.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog on 08/10/2018

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Huddersfield Town vs Liverpool – Preview

Normality Resumes After Painful International Break

You could set your watch to it. Boring, pointless, international break happens, and suddenly Liverpool players start dropping like flies.

Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita all suffered injuries on international duty, while Virgil van Dijk traveled despite having not fully healed from a rib injury.

Unfortunately there’s little that can be done about that now, and dwelling on that won’t help with dispatching Huddersfield who will surely smell blood in the water.

Huddersfield Team News and Predicted Lineup

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In all fairness, David Wagner has as many injury headaches as Jurgen Klopp does this week. Terence Kongolo, Tommy Smith and Danny Williams will all miss out, while the likes of Ramadan Sobhi, Abdelhamid Sabiri, and Isaac Mbenza are in doubt.

Philip Billing should shake off his knock in time for the game and will likely be used in a trio of central midfielders as Wagner has preferred a 3-5-1-1 formation when playing against higher quality opposition.

Either 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 is his usual preference, but the Huddersfield boss set up with a three-man defence with wing-backs in midfield against Chelsea and Tottenham earlier this season.

Liverpool Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Surprisingly, despite Liverpool fans’ worst fears, Klopp has only categorically ruled out Keita for this fixture, meaning Mane, Salah, VVD, and potentially James Milner could all start.

Salah, VVD, and Milner all trained mid-week, which is a good sign, despite the latter suffering a hamstring strain only a couple of weeks ago. Mane however has a broken thumb which, while painful, wouldn’t necessarily rule him out. The player himself will likely make the call on the day.

This uncertainty in the attack and midfield opens the door for the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge, Fabinho, and a returning Adam Lallana whom Klopp spoke very highly of during the week.

Pre-Game Analysis

Liverpool, despite a few hiccups, sit equal 1st on the table, while Huddersfield are languishing in the relegation-zone after a winless start.

However, this doesn’t guarantee the Reds anything. Aaron Mooy and Christopher Schindler are excellent players, while Chris Lowe and Phillip Billing have been in good form this season, and Alex Pritchard can be very dangerous on his day.

This game will be won and lost in the centre of the park as Wagner will overload his midfield. It’ll be up to Liverpool’s midfield trio to play their way out of traffic and give the attackers the service they so desperately need.

Prediction

This game has to be the first step to getting our season back on track and return to winning ways. Salah, Mane, and Firmino hitting top gear would be a nice bonus, but the three points are the most important thing.

We can’t afford to drop points against these types of opponents as we’ve done in previous seasons because Manchester City, and to a lesser extent Chelsea, will simply not return the favor to us.

Liverpool should walk away from this one as 3-0 winners.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 20/10/2018

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Huddersfield 0 – 3 Liverpool : REDemption

Reds Bounce Back to Claim an Important Win at Huddersfield

After a season of tremendous highs and humbling lows, Liverpool were able to record an 18 game unbeaten streak in all competitions. The roller coaster run was punctuated by an incredible win at home against undefeated Manchester City, followed by a weak display and defeat against relegation favourites Swansea. Another defeat against West Brom sent the Reds tumbling out of the FA Cup and fuelled the fires of uncertainty amongst the fan base. Victory against Huddersfield might have been expected a couple of weeks ago, but in light of recent events, it is an important and impressive result. It was a mature and robust performance, without necessarily showcasing the spectacular side that this team is so often capable of.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 7: The German has recently been promoted as the undisputed first-choice ‘keeper by Jurgen Klopp ahead of Simon Mignolet. The decision has divided fans, but performances like this will do wonders for both Karius’ and the fans’ confidence. He didn’t face a particularly high volume of chances but was virtually faultless throughout. Calm under the high ball, commanding from the back and most importantly composed when under fire. A big save early on against Laurent Depoirte set the tone for a bright display.

Joe Gomez – 7: Another start for the youngster, and another sound defensive performance. He could’ve perhaps been more adventurous going forward, but his solidity at the back was immensely appreciated. It’s hard to see how Nathaniel Clyne will get back into the team once he regains fitness, and that may not be such a bad thing given how impressive both Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been this season.

Joel Matip – 7: The big Cameroonian has been a frustrating player to watch since his arrival on a free transfer from Schalke. Too often Matip has been just as culpable in making simple errors as his teammates whom he was meant to replace. However, against Huddersfield Matip showed again his more controlled side. He combined well with Lovren, covering for the Croation when he charged towards the ball. Questions will still be asked though about whether he is the right man to play beside Virgil Van Dijk when he returns.

Dejan Lovren – 8: Lovren at times has been possibly the most hated man at Liverpool. Consistently, and often justly, scapegoated by fans as being the worst offender in a suspect defensive line. Against Huddersfield, quite the opposite was true. Lovren was not only the best defender on the night but also took on the most responsibility, especially in the air. It would not be unreasonable to argue that Lovren, not Matip, should be the one partnering Van Dijk. Only time can tell.

Andy Robertson – 8: Admittedly, when Robertson was first signed from Hull, I was underwhelmed to say the least. I was more interested in foreign wing-backs, players who would cost an arm and a leg. What could a Scotsman from a relegated side possibly have to offer the mighty Liverpool? I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover the answer to that question is – plenty!  The fans have sincerely warmed to the energetic left-back, and his performance against Huddersfield only heightened those feelings. Always involved at both ends of the pitch, it was his delivery that lead to the opening goal. Robertson has well and truly nailed on the left-back position as his own ahead of James Milner and a resurgent Alberto Moreno.

Jordan Henderson – 8: A fantastic night for the Liverpool captain on his return. Henderson hadn’t played since before Christmas during the draw away to Arsenal. Instead of appearing rusty though, the skipper was usual, energetic self, and was the catalyst for most of the positive moments going forward. He won back the ball time and time again and correctly chose to keep play moving quickly to exploit the staggered Huddersfield line. Continued captain’s performances like these will prove to be invaluable in the coming weeks and months.

Emre Can – 9: Can is another Liverpool player who leaves fans in awe and annoyance on a seemingly weekly basis. As such, after the abysmal effort he put in against West Brom there were a few raised eyebrows when his name was included on the team sheet; particularly as Gini Wijnaldum had missed out after playing no worse than Can. Klopp’s decision proved to be prophetic though as Can had the kind of game that reminded fans of his enormous talent, much like he had done against Manchester City. A cracking goal and a penalty were his rewards, and if Sadio Mane had been more prolific, Can could’ve had a couple of assists as well.

James Milner – 6: A surprise inclusion on the night, but was typically reliable throughout, void of any significant mistakes nor creative contributions. Nevertheless, Milner was an essential cog in the midfield machine that allowed the more attacking-minded players to cause the damage that they eventually did. A handy player to have in the squad, but surely wouldn’t be picked in anybody’s strongest XI.

Sadio Mane – 5: Another disappointing night for Mane as his run of poor form continues. Mane is a player that is searching for both goals and the confidence that come with them, but they just aren’t coming as easily as he had grown accustomed to. Some poor execution and decision making didn’t help matters, but to the winger’s credit, he’s still hungry enough to keep trying. His confidence hasn’t dipped so severely that he is entirely unwilling to take any risks, so surely his return to form is just a good 90 minutes away.

Mohamed Salah – 6: For a player who can be so devastatingly dynamic at times, it wasn’t his most electrifying night. It could be argued that because he was occupying Huddersfield’s wide defenders, he sacrificed his own return for the good of the team, rather than selfishly overcrowding the middle. However, he certainly wasn’t as involved as he would’ve liked to have been. Converted his penalty to bring his tally to 19 EPL goals for the season.

Roberto Firmino – 9 (Man of the Match): Is there another player so desperately underrated in the EPL as Firmino? Adored by the fans, players and staff of Liverpool for his tenacity, selflessness and overall quality; as far as I am concerned, let him keep flying under the radar. His movement caused the Huddersfield defenders countless headaches all night, and his defensive contributions allowed them no rest. Rewarded himself with a sublime finish to cap off another Man of the Match display. It’s hard to imagine a Liverpool side at the moment without the brilliant Brazilian leading it from the front.

Subs

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Salah – 83′) – N/A: Brought on to help see the game out, and did so competently.

Gini Wijnaldum (on for Henderson – 83′) – N/A: Same as above.

Dominic Solanke (on for Firmino – 89′) – N/A: No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs : Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk, Danny Ings 

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8: Some of Klopp’s selections seemed bizarre before kick-off, even with some forced changes due to injuries and illnesses. These doubts proved fruitless however as Klopp’s tactics and men were able to deal with the physical and dangerous Huddersfield players with relative ease. After two mediocre displays in a row, this was precisely the type of result and performance that Klopp would’ve demanded from his players. Again though, Klopp’s timing for his substitutes seemed somewhat puzzling. Why couldn’t the likes of Solanke or Ings be brought on after Salah had wrapped the game up in the 78th minute? There was little risk of losing the game from there, and young Solanke would’ve benefited far greater from the 15+ minutes he would’ve received than the 1 minute he actually got.

Talking Points

Emre – Can He Stay or Should He Go?

The future of Can is still up in the air, with no indication yet on whether he will re-sign with Liverpool or leave in the summer on a free transfer to favourites Juventus, his home-country of Germany, or even wildcards Manchester City. Should Liverpool be moving Heaven and Earth to sign him on a long-term contract as some fans suggest? It is a very difficult question to answer. Take the Emre Can who dominated Manchester City, and it’s a definite and resounding yes. Take the Emre Can who was anonymous versus Swansea, and it doesn’t seem like such a loss. I believe that Can is a perfect example of the bigger picture at Liverpool. Do we wish to keep banking on potential? Or do we expect a higher degree of consistency from our players? In Can’s case, I think he’s shown enough to warrant offering a new, reasonable deal, but nothing more. Glimpses of greatness are simply not enough, and the longer this saga drags out, the more likely it is that he will not be around next season.

Life Without Phil

The biggest story to come out of this season at Liverpool is undoubtedly the departure of our little magician, Philippe Coutinho. Many fans dreaded the inevitable day that he would be snatched up by one of the big Spanish clubs and were especially devastated to lose him in the middle of the season. However, despite the criticism that Liverpool has received for this, it was evident to those who were reading the situation clearly and coldly: Coutinho was never going to play for our club again, whether we liked it or not. When Liverpool toppled the giants of Manchester City, many thought that we would be fine without him, but his absence will be felt far greater in games such as the Swansea loss. Games where we need a little bit of magic to unlock stubborn, 10-man defences.

Transfer Window Slamming Shut

Losing Coutinho was offset somewhat by the long overdue arrival of Van Dijk, but many fans still feel that we are in need of an attacker to directly replace the creative maestro. Names such as Riyad Mahrez, Malcolm and Thomas Lemar were thrown around on twitter and rumours pages but they never seemed to be players the club were pursuing that desperately in this window. It would appear that Klopp is content with what he has and will only seek to bring in a replacement during the summer. Only time will tell if this stance will ultimately cost Liverpool by the end of the season or not.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 31/01/2018.

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