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