Liverpool 2 – 0 Fulham: Player Ratings and Talking Points

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget.

A Step in the Right Direction

Liverpool defeated a spirited Fulham 2-0 at Anfield to see them out for the international break. While many were expecting, or at least hoping, that the Reds would thump the Cottagers in the fashion of last year’s demolitions, but the scoreline doesn’t reflect Liverpool’s dominance.

In fairness, Fulham had a couple of big chances in the first half, but for the majority of the game, Liverpool were well and truly on top. The opening goal was marred by controversy as in the space of 13 seconds Fulham had a goal ruled out for offside before the Reds went the length of the pitch with Salah who slotted the ball home coolly.

The replays showed that it was tight, but ultimately, the correct decision. Shaqiri scored the second and final goal to secure the result with an excellent finish off of a cross from Robbo. After a hotly contested first half, Liverpool were able to stroll to victory as Fulham went into damage limitation mode.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 7

Alisson was guilty of making a couple of minor errors in the first half, but was luckily not punished for it. After the break though, the ‘keeper was left to soak up the afternoon sun in peace.

He was largely responsible for Salah’s goal. In the blink of an eye, Alisson stopped appealing for offside, picked the ball up, and released an inch-perfect pass down the wing for TAA who in turn played it to Mo. It’s hard to imagine any of Liverpool’s recent run of ‘keepers having the presence of mind to pull of such a play.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6

Trent was frustrated for large portions of the game due to over-hitting a couple of crosses and making some poor touches. It’s good to see a player demand more of themselves, especially when they use that frustration to push on as Trent did.

Even though he enjoyed less freedom than in the first half, Trent was far more composed after the break and created a few chances for his teammates without shirking his defensive responsibilities.

Joe Gomez – 7

Gomez had a solid game without needing to step in too often. Although, Fulham’s best chance of the game happened when Ryan Sessegnon rounded Joe with an unorthodox touch, but fortunately, shot wide.

He was as comfortable on the ball as ever, and his speed enables Liverpool to play with a high line without having to worry too much about teams lobbing balls in behind.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5

VVD was the captain on the day and excelled in the role. His defensive organisation and strong leadership qualities are invaluable to such a young team at the back.

He saved Alisson on one occasion when the ‘keeper spilled what should’ve been a fairly comfortable save, but apart from that, his biggest contributions were his excellent passes that often switched the play or released a winger.

Andy Robertson – 8

Robbo was back to his near-best against Fulham. He had to balance his powerful attacking runs while being mindful of Ryan Sessegnon whose pace can cause some real issues.

He did so comfortably and notched an impressive assist with a beautiful cross to an unmarked Shaqiri. He’s certainly deserving of that new contract that’s been rumoured.

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Fabinho – 6

Unfortunately, Fabinho couldn’t recapture his encouraging recent form as his tackles and passes were too sloppy on occasions. He still needs more time to fully adjust before we see the best of him.

Fans did see get a few glimpses of what he can offer aside from his defensive abilities. Fab lofted a lovely ball over the top to Trent, but the youngster headed over when he possibly should’ve tried to knock it back across the penalty spot.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6

Gini had another quiet game without ever really putting a foot wrong. He didn’t look as tired as against Red Star, but he’s still not performing as well as he was earlier in the season.

That was particularly surprising given that his best games had previously come in matches where he played alongside Fabinho in a 4-2-3-1. He didn’t need to be dominant on the day, but it was still disappointing to not see him get more involved.

Bobby Firmino – 6.5

Bobby came back into the team but still looks to be getting used to this new system and how he fits in among the other attacking players. It’s a bizarre conclusion to draw because he often played a similar, but not identical, role during his time at Hoffenheim.

He created a good chance for Salah to score from and was characteristically tireless in his efforts to drop back and win the ball. Even when he isn’t creating much himself, the space he opens up for others with his off the ball movement can’t be overlooked.

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Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 8

Shaq was playing as though he had a point to prove after being left on Merseyside for the defeat in Serbia. A goal was just rewards for him on the day as he created plenty of chances for himself and those around him.

His was constantly finding space in the first half and struck a fine balance between playing perfectly weighted passes to his teammates and backing himself to score from distance. It’s a mystery why he has to share free-kick taking responsibilities when he’s on the pitch though, as he’s by far the most potent from dead ball situations.

Sadio Mane – 6.5

Mane was threatening again but is still some distance from performing at his lethal best. There were a few occasions when his touch let him down, and he sliced a couple of shots high or wide.

He did create a half-chance early on when he dribbled through several Fulham players, but Mane stumbled as he released the ball, so his pass to a flat-footed Salah was marginally over-hit.

Mo Salah – 7

There’s still some debate over Salah’s ability to play up top, even though Liverpool’s system is fluid enough to allow him to drift over to the right when he wishes.

In any case, Mo had a good game, and he took his goal well. Last season’s Salah might’ve scored a couple more as he let a glorious chance go begging in the first half, but his overall play is showing signs of improvement.

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Subs

Jordan Henderson – (on for Wijnaldum 69′) 6

Hendo was solid when he came on aside from one slightly misplaced pass. There wasn’t much for the captain to do though, as Fulham had already conceded the result.

James Milner – (on for Shaqiri 81′) N/A

No time to make an impact.

Naby Keita – (on for Fabinho 90′) N/A

No time to make an impact, but it’s good to see him back.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Daniel Sturridge

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7

Klopp selected what’s arguably Liverpool’s strongest lineup as he gave his side the best possible chance of bouncing back from the midweek disappointment in the Champions League.

The defence wasn’t as rock solid as in previous games, which suggests that the Reds either underestimated their opponents once again, or simply had an ‘off day’. They did manage to keep a clean sheet though, so the focus will remain on Liverpool’s underperforming attack. The jury’s still out on whether this is down to Klopp’s change in tactics, the individual players’ form, or a combination of the two.

Regardless, Klopp can be mostly pleased with what he saw against Fulham and will undoubtedly be praying that this international break is kinder to him than the last on an injury front.

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Talking Points

Starting Shaqiri

This isn’t the first time that Shaqiri has deserved the man of the match award, and it certainly isn’t the last time we’ll see him running the show this season.

Shaq made a big statement to Klopp that regardless of whether the manager wants to play with a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, Shaq has to play. In the case of a 4-3-3, then the Swiss superstar could take the place of any of the current front three, given the fact that his form has eclipsed all of theirs. He could play on either wing, but preferably the right, which would mean either a straight swap with Salah, or in place of Firmino and the Egyptian moves to striker.

In the 4-2-3-1, which appears to be Klopp’s preferred system, Shaqiri’s role suits him to a tee. His passing has been sublime even though that’s an aspect of his game that regularly flies under the radar. It’s up to Klopp and the rest of the team to improve and benefit more from what Shaqiri is providing in this formation.

Early Signs That Salah is Returning

Salah’s still not at his scintillating best, that’s an indisputable fact. However, his recent form has been a significant improvement over the start of the season, and the signs are there that we may not have to wait too much longer to get our Mo back.

The Egyptian has scored three goals in his last four Premier League games and five from five in all competitions. Of course he’s had enough chances to potentially double that tally in that time period, but no one can argue that his haul in these games is unacceptable by any means. Like most of the players, he needs more time to adjust to the new system, and once he does, more confidence, and in turn more goals, will surely follow.

Moreover, he’s been using his pace and link-up play to a far greater degree recently, which will undoubtedly aid the adjustment process for himself and those around him.

Good Enough

It’s important to acknowledge that until the second goal went in, Fulham were putting up a respectable fight. They sensed Liverpool were in a precarious moment and did their best to capitalise on that. A bit of luck and some resilience from the Reds though was enough to see off a couple of infrequent scares and secure the result.

The fans seemed wary of this too as the Anfield crowd was palpably cautious for most of the game. It’s up to the players to inspire the supporters to sing and make Anfield the cauldron that we know it can be, but that goes both ways. The fans have to do their best to get behind the team even when they aren’t playing as well or providing as much entertainment as last season.

It’s on to the always unwelcome international break now, and hopefully the travelling Reds will be used sparingly. For those that’ll remain at Melwood though, it’ll be business as usual as Klopp endeavours to perfect his new system.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 12/11/2018

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Liverpool vs Fulham – Premier League Preview

Liverpool have to move on from the disastrous result against Red Star and perform well against Fulham.

On paper, the Reds couldn’t ask for a better team to restore their confidence and the Cottagers are bottom of the table having only earned one win and two draws, while conceding 29 goals in 11 games.

What the result against Red Star did show however, is that Liverpool cannot afford to underestimate lesser opponents, and that will still be the case against Fulham.

Liverpool Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Klopp confirmed that Keita, Hendo, and Gomez are fit and available. Gomez could replace TAA at right-back after the latter struggled against Arsenal and Red Star, meaning Lovren may return at centre-back. Matip also played poorly in midweek and is unlikely to feature against Fulham.

Sturridge and Lallana didn’t impress against Red Star either, so are likely to return to the bench. Klopp has played with a 4-2-3-1 in the last two home fixtures with Shaqiri joining Salah, Firmino and Mane in attack.

Klopp has a wealth of options available to him in midfield and may rest Gini and Milner after both players have looked fatigued recently. Fabinho looks set for a recall, while Hendo could also return to the team. Keita is another option in midfield, particularly if Klopp sticks with a 4-3-3.

Fulham Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic has given no updates on Fulham’s injury situation with much of the talk surrounding his side’s woeful run of form and his precarious position as manager.

Joe Bryan presumably remains an injury doubt, while Kevin McDonald was substituted with a knock in the defeat to Huddersfield Town and his availability is unclear. Given that McDonald has been named in Scotland’s squad his problem is probably not too serious.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah could lose his place to Cyrus Christie at right-back after enduring a nightmare against Huddersfield. Stefan Johansen, Floyd Ayite and Aboubakar Kamara are among the peripheral squad players available to Jokanovic should he wish to mix things up again.

Pre-Game Analysis

Fulham’s struggles are well-documented and Liverpool are well placed on all areas of the pitch to be able to dominate the game.

However, Fulham’s biggest threat, and perhaps only hope for a result, is their Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. He has scored most of Fulham’s goals, and his linkup play is underrated.

Mitrovic excels at winning the ball in the air and then holding it up for the likes of Andre Schurrle, Ryan Sessegnon, and Luciano Vietto. If Liverpool’s centre-back pairing can stop him from winning these balls and holding up play, then Fulham’s chances of scoring will dramatically decline.

Prediction

This is a must-win game for Liverpool. The result is by far the most important thing, but Fulham at home presents the perfect opportunity for a return to form, a restoration of confidence, and to silence the doubters.

Fulham will smell blood after seeing the Reds lose to an inferior side, and will be desperate for a result given their current position, but Liverpool should assert themselves early and never give the Cottagers a sniff.

Liverpool will head into the international break having won in a convincing 4-0 result.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 06/11/2018

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Red Star 2 – 0 Liverpool : Player Ratings and Talking Points

Horror Result

Liverpool were beaten 2-0 away to Red Star after conceding two quick goals midway through the first-half. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but one we must accept.

Regardless of team selection, Liverpool deserved to lose on the night in one of the worst results of the Klopp era. The manager and players shared the fans’ frustration, and will be looking to make amends on the weekend.

The best thing to do now is to move on quickly, but first, let’s re-live the misery by looking back at where it all went wrong and discussing the result in context. Oh boy!

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 4

Like many others on the night, Alisson didn’t perform to the standards that we expect of him. He surely had to do better for Red Star’s second goal.

Other than picking the ball out of the back of the net twice, he had little to do. Although, despite the second goal, in a game such as this one, the goalkeeper can’t accept too much of the blame.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 2.5

Trent probably could’ve done with a week out of the spotlight after his personal issues and performance against Arsenal, but then again, if he had a great match we’d all be saying that the decision to play was the only thing to help him get over those things.

In any case, Trent had another shocker. He was poor on the ball and was outdone in defence. Bad stretches are to be expected out of a young player though, so it’s far too early to be dropping him entirely, especially when the only real alternative is Clyne who’s barely played in years.

Joel Matip – 3

Many questioned the decision to start Matip when he’s clearly lacking in match fitness, but how can a player get fit without playing? Again, if he’d played well, then we’d all be praising Klopp’s rotation.

His performance was weak, and it’s difficult to understand how such a big man fails to impose himself physically onto much smaller attacking players.

Virgil van Dijk – 4

VVD was better than Matip, but that’s not saying much. For the second game in a row he spurned a few chances, but most importantly, he wasn’t as authoritative at the back as he normally is.

He was also largely at fault for the first goal which sent us on our way to a dreadful defeat. Even our great centre-back can’t always be expected to save our skins.

Andy Robertson – 4.5

The best of the worst in defence; Robbo still wasn’t very good though. Apart from one outstanding pass early on to unleash Mane, he was terribly wasteful on the ball.

Robbo has been one of the few players this season to somewhat maintain his form from the end of last season, but on this occasion, he was poor.

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Gini Wijnaldum – 3

One tactical decision that did have fans excited before the game was the decision to shift Gini back to the holding role that he shone in earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, Gini produced one of ‘those’ away day performances where he simply fails to turn up and influence the game in any meaningful manner. He did pick up slightly in the second-half, but was still light-years away from what we needed.

James Milner – 3.5

I can’t remember the last time Milner had such a bad game. Normally his absolute worst performance would still earn him a 6/10 such is his consistency.

He was just as bad as the rest of them in Belgrade though, and in particular, he was far too casual on the ball for Red Star’s first goal. He was one of many who looked knackered.

Adam Lallana – 2

It’s still early into Lallana’s return from injury, but it’s getting harder and harder to see how he could possibly have a long-term future at the club.

He hasn’t lost his touch and is still capable of beating defenders with his skill, but his overall game is lacking and he looks miles off the pace. Naby Keita’s return couldn’t come any sooner.

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Mo Salah – 4

Salah had a frustrating night as Red Star constantly had two players marking him. That was probably overkill in hindsight as his poor touch and final ball hindered him more than any defender could.

In fairness, he went the closest to scoring by hitting the post and forcing the ‘keeper into a good save late on, but he’s still looking a shadow of the player that fans fell in love with last season.

Sadio Mane – 3.5

Mane did look threatening at times, but then again, David N’Gog might’ve looked threatening in this game. He couldn’t have done much worse than the front-three who did play.

Like Salah though, he did most of Red Star’s defending for them as when he wasn’t falling over, he was producing sloppy touch after sloppy touch. His passing was somewhat threatening, but there was little to no linkup play to take advantage of it.

Daniel Sturridge – 2

What a chance for Sturridge to stake a claim on a regular first-team place, especially considering the fact that our previously untouchable front-three have been sub-par. Unfortunately, he dropped the ball and won’t be taking anyone’s place anytime soon.

Klopp was right to hook him at half-time after missing a chance that you would’ve put the house on him scoring, and then trying to correct his mistake minutes later by shooting when he should’ve passed to an open Lallana.

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Subs

Bobby Firmino – (on for Sturridge 46′) 4.5

Firmino’s introduction did make a minor difference, but not to the scoreline. Salah’s form has gotten so much attention that it’s easy to forget how average Bobby’s been for most of the season.

Joe Gomez – (on for Alexander-Arnold 46′) 5

Gomez came on as a mercy sub to replace TAA. There wasn’t much a right-back could do at 2-0 down, but some sloppy passing didn’t help.

Divock Origi – (on for Lallana 79′) 3

Everyone would’ve preferred to have seen Keita come on. Origi’s time at the club is done, and he did nothing to prove otherwise with the admittedly short time he was given in this match.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Fabinho, and Naby Keita.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 3

Where to start? The one saving grace for Klopp is that unlike Brendan Rodgers and Roy Hodgson, he openly admits when the team’s been awful. It’s a minor consolidation, but a sure sign that he’ll make it clear to the players that they’ve not been good enough.

When Klopp was asked if he could ‘put his finger on’ what went wrong for Liverpool, he said, “I only have 10 fingers”. Klopp knows we have problems. It’s now up to him to find solutions, and fast.

The biggest criticisms Klopp’s received in the wake of the game have been that he underestimated the opposition, which he denied, his rotation, and subs. In theory, this was a good game to rotate, but the three players he chose looked embarrassingly unfit, and the decision to leave Keita on the bench when the midfield had been so appalling was frankly baffling. However, in Klopp’s defence, he wasted no time in making the first two changes, which is encouraging, as he normally waits far too long to do so.

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Talking Points

Last 16

Napoli managed a draw against PSG, which mean that Liverpool would’ve been one result away from securing top spot in Group C, potentially avoiding one of Europe’s giants in the first knockout stage.

As things stand now, all four teams have something to play for. One win should be enough to go through, but we’ve made hard work of it. PSG away and Napoli at home will be no cakewalk, and considering how many other results have gone our way, it’s difficult not to feel disappointed.

The one good thing about this situation is that Red Star have still got everything to play for, so they could be more motivated to give us a hand by making PSG and Napoli drop points. Probably wishful thinking, but it’s better than considering the possibility of dropping down into the Europa League.

Cause for Concern

For once, most football pundits have been absolutely spot on in their assessment of the result. It’s a shock, but it had been coming.

Liverpool’s results, for the most part, this season have been excellent, but this has meant that some poor performances have been brushed under the rug. The most common rationales have been fitness and more time needed for played to bed into the new system, but these excuses are beginning to wear thin.

Several alternate theories have been expressed to explain why the attack and midfield are so much worse now. Some say Buvac’s influence on the attack is being missed, while others argue that this is simply what a Countinho/Oxlade-Chamberlain-less Liverpool looks like. All that’s certain is that our form is a big concern.

Not All Doom and Gloom

Get out your virtual pitchforks! Someone’s trying to be optimistic about Liverpool on the internet! In all seriousness though, I’m as disappointed and upset about this result as any fan. However, it’s important to bear a few things in mind going into the next run of fixtures.

It’s true that we aren’t as potent as last year, and that City are deservedly ahead of us, but as a club, we’re in a much better place. I know it’s difficult to hear at this stage of Klopp’s reign, but we’re still rebuilding, and for the most part, we’re getting better. Think of where we were when he came in. Our defence is better than last year, but our midfield is still adapting to change. This will undoubtedly improve over time and will have a knock-on effect for the attackers.

We’ve arguably been overperforming for years under Klopp, especially last season. This time around, we’re probably playing to our level, and that’s why it appears worse than it actually is. It only looks this bad because of how good we’ve been before. In time, we’ll get back to our best. It’s just a matter of trying to stay alive in the Champions League and EPL until we do.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 07/11/2018

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Red Star vs Liverpool – Champions League Preview

No Excuses for Anything Less Than a Win

Liverpool head into matchweek four of the Champions League atop of their group and with a solid chance of progression.

The disappointment that some players may be feeling about the weekend’s result against Arsenal needs to be forgotten and moved on from.

Last time Liverpool faced Red Star, Klopp’s side strolled to a 4-0 victory, and the German will be looking for a similar performance in Serbia.

Red Star Belgrade – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Red Star are a completely different side when they play at home because the atmosphere that the fans create inside the stadium inspires the team to play above their level.

This is how they were able to get a draw from Napoli, who are the only side to have beaten Liverpool in the Champions League so far. Although, PSG were able to thrash them, so once the first goal goes in, the floodgates can open.

As fans will remember from the game at Anfield, Red Star play physical football and that will be even more evident on their home patch. Liverpool will need to be patient, but potent, as they try to silence the home fans.

Liverpool – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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The biggest news out of the Liverpool camp is the Xherdan Shaqiri hasn’t travelled with the squad. This is disappointing as it sets a bad precedence. Sure, there’d been security warnings directed the Shaqiri stemming from his actions at the World Cup, but by all reports, the player wanted to go, so he should’ve played.

Elsewhere, Lovren missed the Arsenal game with a minor injury but should return for this game. This would take Trent out of the spotlight after his nightmare against Arsenal, while Gomez would move to right-back.

The midfield could be a combination of many players. Adam Lallana will surely be asking to start so that he can prove he deserves a more permanent role, and the same could be said of Sturridge up top.

Pre-Game Analysis

Klopp’s formation and lineup will be under scrutiny in this match as he has a number of difficult decisions to make.

Fabinho, for example, should arguably be dropped after his performance against Arsenal, but then again, he’ll get better with more game time, and it’s difficult to imagine a more appropriate match for the Brazilian to be used in.

Whatever the lineup and formation, Klopp will look to silence the home fans by playing the Serbians off the park from the get-go.

Prediction

A win would certainly make Liverpool’s path to progression much easier, and depending on the result in Naples between Napoli and PSG, it could make the top spot of the group much more attainable.

Liverpool most likely won’t be able to win by as big a margin as last time because Red Star are far better at home, but the result should be the same.

It may take some time to break down the Serbs’ stubborn defence, but Liverpool will ultimately walk away as 2-0 winners.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 06/11/2018

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Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool : Player Ratings and Talking Points

Disappointing Draw

Liverpool drew 1-1 with an impressive Arsenal side in a game that’s difficult to analyse. On one hand, Liverpool were unlucky not to have won 3-0 after Mane’s goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside, and VVD missed two big chances. On the other, Arsenal were dominant for long stretches of the match, and it’s arguable that Liverpool barely deserved a draw.

Klopp voiced his disappointment after the game regarding the offside decision but correctly pointed out his side’s own failings. Klopp said, “It’s a pity it didn’t count, but we made a few more mistakes than the ref to be honest. It was very intense, Arsenal are in a very good moment, I thought we made life a bit too easy for them.”

Liverpool didn’t come out of the blocks with their usual aggressiveness in the big games. Arsenal dominated the early periods, but it was Liverpool who had the two biggest chances of the half through Mane and VVD. Milner smashed home a rebound in the second half and the Reds looked like holding on, but a brilliant goal by Alexandre Lacazette rescued a point for the Gunners late in the game.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 6.5

This was probably the busiest Alisson’s been since he arrived, and for the most part, he handled the intensity of the match well. He made strong saves to deny the likes of Lacazette and Lucas Torreira, but could’ve done better on occasions such as misjudging a cross that Henrikh Mkhitaryan should’ve opened the scoring from.

Little to no blame can be put on the Brazilian for the late goal. The pass was expertly threaded through a tired defence, and Lacazette’s composure to scoop-turn away from Alisson and ability to find the far corner was superb. Alisson made the right choice by coming out, and a lesser striker would’ve had no chance of finishing from the angle that the goalkeeper left him.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 3

This game was one of few, including Manchester United and Crystal Palace away last season, where Trent had a poor performance. He looked vulnerable all night and was constantly beaten by Arsenal’s attackers who took it in turns to have a crack at our right-hand side.

Sead Kolasinac, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Mesut Ozil all found joy against TAA, but in fairness to the youngster, no one stepped in to give him a hand or even bother to track Ozil who drifted over to his side frequently. In reaction to the game and this performance, some fans have suggested this is a sign that Trent’s been found out at fullback and needs to move into midfield. This is a harsh assessment, and it won’t be long before Trent is back to his best.

Joe Gomez – 7

Gomez was simply incredible for most of the match. He made numerous blocks and interceptions to keep his side in the contest, and it’s undeniable that he’s playing like a centre-back with many years experience in the league. He uses his intelligence just as impressively as his strength and speed.

His positioning wasn’t the best when Alex Iwobi assisted Lacazette for the goal, as he left too big a gap for the ball to be played into. Lacazette did come from behind him though, and fatigue surely affected the situation as well.

Virgil van Dijk – (Man of the Match) 8

First and foremost, van Dijk defended brilliantly for the majority of the game and was responsible for rescuing Liverpool from themselves far too often. VVD had three big chances in the game, and the first was a case of ‘the wrong man, in the right place’, as the big Dutchman couldn’t sort his feet out to poke the ball past Bernd Leno. He was faultless for the second and third though, beating Leno to a header which agonisingly came back off the post, as well as forcing Leno to tip the ball over after another headed effort.

Like Gomez, van Dijk must shoulder some of the blame for the equaliser, but it can’t be stressed enough how impeccable the pass, run, turn, and finish were. VVD didn’t track Lacazette as he slipped behind Gomez, and he failed to alert his partner to the danger.

Andy Robertson – 8

While Trent struggled, Robbo thrived. The Scot benefited from the majority of traffic going down the opposite side and used this to his advantage by bombing forward whenever possible and linking up with Mane in a throwback to their excellent combination play of last season.

He could’ve had a goal for his efforts, but was unable to direct his powerful shot around Leno. Nevertheless, his runs and crosses were a constant thorn in the side of Arsenal’s defence and midfield who couldn’t pin him down.

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Fabinho – 3

Fabinho had a nightmare. Klopp and the fans were left furious as the Brazilian continually gave the ball away with sloppy passing and careless dribbling. Liverpool consistently put themselves under pressure by giving the ball away in midfield, and Fabinho was the worst offender.

He played much better in the last two games operating in Klopp’s 4-2-3-1 system, so perhaps some of the fans’ frustration should be tempered with an understanding that Fabinho needs more time to settle into the 4-3-3.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6.5

Gini was the only midfielder who didn’t give the ball away every other time he touched it, but he did little else to influence the result. His silky touches are a joy to watch, but they aren’t enough to win a midfield battle, and that was where the game was very nearly lost.

Crucially, Gini didn’t slide over to help Trent when it was clear that the youngster wasn’t coping well with Arsenal’s attack. In particular, Ozil was allowed free rein at times while Gini sat centrally, watching Trent struggle.

James Milner – 7

Milner had a poor start to the game and was uncharacteristically wasteful in possession at times. Like Gini, Milner either failed to recognise the fact that Arsenal were directing their attacks at Trent, or simply didn’t react to it.

He improved in the second half though, and his well-taken goal could’ve sealed all three points on another day. His work rate never slowed, even after he suffered a nasty head clash with Gomez.

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Mo Salah – 6.5

Salah is slowly continuing on his path back to top form, and had another promising display against Arsenal. He wasn’t at his absolute best, but his movement and passing were significantly better than earlier in the season.

His speed caused the Arsenal defence to panic on some occasions, and the Egyptian could’ve registered a winning assist, but twice his final pass to Mane just evaded the Senegalese flyer by mere inches.

Sadio Mane – 7

Mane did well to follow up on Firmino’s chip and stay onside in a tricky situation, although the officials disagreed with that last point. Mane didn’t get enough of the service that he needed, yet every time he did get the ball in space he looked Liverpool’s most dangerous asset.

His outstanding run and powerful cross forced Leno to palm the ball out of the path of Salah, before Milner belted the followup shot into the back of the net for what might’ve been a winning assist from Mane.

Bobby Firmino – 5.5

Bobby didn’t impact the game nearly as much as we’re used to seeing him do in big matches. His run and chip for Mane’s offside goal was classic Firmino brilliance, but aside from that, he barely got involved in the game.

His passes and touches weren’t nearly as potent as fans have come to expect from him, and Klopp rightly hooked him off for Shaqiri in the second half.

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Subs

Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Firmino 77′) 5

Shaqiri didn’t do anything wrong when he came onto the pitch, but he didn’t quite have the impact that fans were expecting. Perhaps Klopp should’ve brought him on earlier to give him a better chance of influencing the game.

Joel Matip – (on for Salah 90′) N/A

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, and Divock Origi.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 6

Many fans were hoping to see Klopp continue to use the 4-2-3-1 formation that had been working so well in previous weeks, but there was nothing wrong on paper with his choice to revert to a 4-3-3. Moreover, when it was clear that the original system wasn’t working, Klopp wasted little time switching back to his 4-2-3-1, and it had a positive impact on the game.

Likewise, his team selection can’t be faulted. Shaqiri was the only player who might’ve started instead of being relegated to the bench, but he would’ve replaced Milner who scored the goal to help us get the draw. Many fans have criticised Klopp’s perceived negativity as he brought Matip on for Salah with only seconds left on the clock, while Sturridge was left on the bench. Not bringing on Studge was strange given the impact he’s had to our season as a substitute, but Salah was out on his feet, so bringing on Matip to secure the result made sense.

Klopp’s fury was clear from the first few minutes at the casual passes that were gifting Arsenal possession. The decision making was generally sub-par, and that’s not something that the manager can be blamed for. His half time talk and adjustments did have an obvious effect and tilted the game slightly more in Liverpool’s favour in the second half.

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Talking Points

Best Formation

Klopp’s decision to abandon the previously successful 4-2-3-1 system in favour of his old 4-3-3 suggests that he believes the former still needs some work on the training ground before it’s ready to be used against the top sides.

Recent results and performances would suggest otherwise though. Utilising Gini and Fabinho in a double pivot has been a revelation for our midfield, and Shaqiri’s performances have generally warranted more starts.  Using a 4-2-3-1 is ideal because it suits most of our players perfectly. For example, Trent can receive more cover from a four of five-man midfield, meaning the likes of Ozil and Aubmeyang can’t double team him.

It’s a mystery why Klopp isn’t as convinced as most fans about this subject, but the Arsenal game will have surely persuaded him that 4-2-3-1 is the way forward, at least for now.

How Bad Is The Result?

The performance was unacceptable in patches, but the result is what matters most. A lot of fans have reacted poorly to what they see as two vital points dropped. Their core sentiment is difficult to disagree with in the sense that it was an important game and one that both Manchester City and Chelsea managed to win. By extension, this result could be viewed as two points of lost ground to our rivals.

However, when the bigger picture is assessed, it’s not nearly as bad as some are making out. After 11 games, Liverpool are still undefeated and have amassed a whopping 27 out of a possible 33 points. Moreover, we’re the only team in the top six who have played four games against other top six sides. There are plenty more chances for our rivals to take points off of each other, but only a few for them to take points off of us. Beating Chelsea, City, and Arsenal would’ve been ideal, but at least we didn’t give any of them a win.

Even though many fans are stressing about the fact that City dominate smaller teams, Liverpool remain the only side in the league who haven’t dropped points to anyone outside of the top six. City drew with Wolves, Cheslea drew with West Ham, and the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United have suffered more than a couple of bad results against lesser sides. We may only be top of the league for a few more hours, but we’re in a better position than many seem to suggest.

Different Challenge Ahead

Liverpool have emerged from perhaps our trickiest run of fixtures of the entire 2018/19 season unbeaten, and top of both our Champions League group, and the Premier League, at least until City play. Fans should be happy with that. Being clear top would’ve been amazing, but the lads have done a commendable job nonetheless.

Now that we’ve put ourselves in a competitive position, it’s time to capatilise on that by continuing to pick up wins against the smaller teams. Before we take on Manchester United in mid-December, Liverpool play Red Star, Fulham, Watford, PSG, Everton, Burnley, Bournemouth, and Napoli.

A win at Red Star could secure qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, and every one of those Premier League fixtures are winnable. In that same period, Chelsea play Tottenham and Manchester City, while City also have a game against Manchester United. If the players can make the most of it, this could be a period of real optimism for the club heading into the new year.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 04/11/2018

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Arsenal vs Liverpool – Premier League Preview

Big Test for Both Sides

Two of the Premier League’s most inform teams will do battle at the Emirates, and the stakes are exceptionally high for such an early point in the season.

For Arsenal, the hosts, this is their greatest test since Unai Emery’s philosophy has started to bear fruit. Much has been made of their long unbeaten run, but it’s been quite some time since they’ve faced a team of Liverpool’s quality.

For Liverpool, this is a must win game. Not only because it is against a top-four rival, but because both Chelsea and Manchester City picked up all three points at the Emirates. If Liverpool want to stake their claim as genuine title contenders, then anything other than a win must be seen as a failure.

Arsenal Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Arsenal limp into this fixture with some key absences. Their defence are on their last legs, although their formidable attack is as potent as ever.

Mohamed Elneny, Laurent Koscielny, Kostantinos Mavropanos, and Matteo Guendouzi will all miss this weekend’s fixture. While the likes of Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Sokratis will be assessed as close to kick-off as possible.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles could come in to replace Bellerin if he’s not fit to start, while supposed Liverpool transfer target Aaron Ramsey could be brought into the midfield in Emery elects to add more numbers in the centre of the park.

Liverpool Team News and Predicted Lineup

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It will likely be too soon for either of Jordan Henderson or Naby Keita to be in contention against Arsenal, but other than that, Liverpool’s lineup will be strong.

The rest of the team more or less picks itself, especially the defence, and to a lesser extent, the midfield, given the poor recent showings by Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana.

The only doubt is whether Klopp will elect to retain Xherdan Shaqiri meaning that Liverpool will lineup closer to a 4-2-3-1. This would be a bold move by Klopp, but one that could play dividends.

Pre-Game Analysis

If Shaqiri plays, and Klopps trust Gini Wijnaldum and Fabinho to control the midfield as they’ve done in the last two games, then Arsenal’s makeshift defence will be put under even more pressure. If Milner plays though, it will mean Liverpool have a better chance of nullifying the impact of players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal have a record of starting slow this season, which may sway Klopp’s decision to try and kill the game early with a Shaqiri-spearheaded blitz. However, Emery is a shrewd manager and will have planned for Klopp’s attack well.

Liverpool will need to punish Arsenal if they linger on the ball too long, as they are a side who prefer to play out from the back. However, if they get the ball further afield, then they have every chance of scoring goals.

Prediction

Both managers will have had their eyes on this fixture for many weeks now, and as such, both will have prepared game plans that they believe will secure the win.

Liverpool will be the more desperate of the two for a victory, but that’s not to say Arsenal won’t be giving it a real crack at home.

Ultimately, Liverpool’s defence should be able to repel Arsenal’s formidable attack more often than not, but the same won’t be said of the Gunner’s defence against whichever attacking combination Klopp prefers. A well earned 3-1 victory for the Reds will make a  real statement going forward.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 27/10/2018

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Liverpool 4 – 1 Cardiff : Player Ratings and Talking Points

Condolences to all of those effected by the events in Leicester. YNWA.

Another Statement Performance

The Reds were not as their best against Cardiff, and yet were unlucky to only finish the game as 4-1 victors. That says a lot about how far this Liverpool side have come.

Mo Salah opened the scoring after knocking in a rebound, but Liverpool couldn’t extend their lead until deep into the second half despite generally playing well.

Sadio Mane picked up a brace for the second and fourth goals, while Xherdan Shaqiri’s lovely touch and finish settled the nerves after Cardiff brought the score back to 2-1.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 6:

Liverpool could’ve played without a goalkeeper until just before halftime when Alisson had to make a routine movement to collect a misplaced through ball.

It was a shame that a freak deflection cost him his 10th consecutive at Anfield, but he couldn’t have done anything about it.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6.5:

Trent probably could’ve done with a rest like Robbo was given, and the fact that he was less involved than usual is perhaps a sign that the young man has been playing too many minutes.

He didn’t do anything wrong, he just didn’t appear to have the energy to stamp his authority on the game.

Dejan Lovren – 6:

Lovren wasn’t quite as bad as some people would have you believe. He’s someone been burdened with the blame for Cardiff’s goal, despite the fact that it took a ridiculous deflection off VVD.

He wasn’t as good as against Manchester City, but his performance didn’t warrant the continued abuse of some sections of the fan base that just will not get off the guy’s back. You can be respectful and reasonable while not wanting him to start.

Virgil van Dijk – 6.5:

Like the rest of the defence, VVD had very little to do. Although, he did hit the post with an early header and was clearly disappointed that he couldn’t do better.

The only other incident of note was the wicked deflection that Cardiff’s goal took off his legs, but again, it was through no fault of his own.

Alberto Moreno – 6.5:

If you’re gonna play Moreno, these are the games to do it. The fact that Cardiff were sitting so deep meant Moreno could overlap and get crosses into the box, and he did a reasonable job of that.

He might’ve gotten the highest rating out of the defenders due to his increased involvement, but he was caught badly out of position in the buildup to Cardiff’s goal.

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Fabinho – 7.5

Fabinho was excellent again in his second start in a row. His passing was crisp, if not always too sophisticated, and his tackling was second to none.

This was most evident with a crucial, and crunching, tackle on the edge of his own box to completely relieve any sense of danger. This is an excellent time for the Brazilian to find his feet in Red.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

Gini is such an outstanding footballer, and those who fail to recognise that fact, simply don’t understand football.

Gini’s all round game has come on in leaps and bounds as his breaking up of play and dribbling are beginning to match his passing. Speaking of which, Gini completed 111 passes on the day, only 1 less than the entirety of Cardiff’s team managed!

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Adam Lallana – 5:

Fans have to be willing to give Lallana more time given his lengthy recovery from several injuries in a row, but he’s done nothing to buy himself time with that performance.

Klopp was right to sub him off after an hour as he was making little to no impact pn the game beyond slowing attacks down with his insistence on taking four of five touches more than necessary.

Bobby Firmino – 6.5:

Cardiff tried to copy the tactics that Crystal Palace had employed earlier in the season, and on both occasions, one of the biggest aims was to eliminate the half-spaces that Bobby thrives in.

Despite not being able to get into the game as much, he worked his socks off again and his occupation of defenders and midfielders was off benefit to the rest of the side.

Sadio Mane – 8:

His final ball was a little off at first, but his linkup play greatly improved as the game went on, and for that he was awarded with two delightful goals.

The first came after a bizarre sequence where Mane nearly lost the ball two or three times before absolutely cannoning the ball into the back of the net, and the second was a cool finish to round off a slick counter-attack.

Mo Salah – (Man of the Match) 8.5:

It’s very satisfying to finally be able to award Salah with another man of the match award. He scored the first goal of the match, which is usually the most important, and was unlucky not to have scored more.

His linkup play was far better, even if his finishing still has some way to go. He also displayed a beaming smile after scoring, silencing the idiotic pundits who suggested he was unhappy or wanted to leave because he didn’t celebrate his goal against Red Star.

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Subs

Xherdan Shaqiri (on for Lallana 60′) – 8:

Shaqiri secured the game with his first goal in front of the Kop. His passing was impeccable again, meaning he’s well in contention for a start against Arsenal.

James Milner (on for Firmino 70′) – 6:

Didn’t have much to do as the midfield battle was already well taken care of by Gini and Fabinho.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson, and Daniel Sturridge.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7.5:

Klopp got the result and the most important decision right, which was to start Salah, Firmino, and Mane again and try to keep their good run going.

The same could be said for Fabinho and Gini, and while it was disappointing to see Shaqiri left out, the fact that Shaq started in the Champions League and Lallana started against Cardiff says a lot about how Klopp ranks the two.

Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne arguably should started to give VVD and TAA a rest. They wouldn’t have been pushed too hard by what Cardiff were offereing, so you have to wonder if they can’t get into the team for this game, when can they?

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Talking Points

Weird Win

As stated above, Liverpool weren’t exactly at their best, and yet completed a resounding result. It’s not as if the scoreline was unwarranted either, but that says more about how poor Cardiff were.

But even then, they managed to fluke a goal and cause a few minutes of panic in the minds of Liverpool supporters before Shaqiri resumed normality.

Is this a sign that Liverpool are now not only capable of seeing out results, but we can also take results beyond doubt even when the momentum swings against us.

Top Again

The result saw Liverpool, at least temporarily, return to the top of the Premier League table.

While that doesn’t mean much at this stage of the season, it’s an important reminder that while we still aren’t at our best, we’re at least level Manchester City, who many regard as the best in the league, if not the world.

Our only dropped points have come against them, and Chelsea. A respectable return from our opening 10 fixtures.

All Eyes on Arsenal

Liverpool have an important week to rest and prepare for a crucial match at the Emirates against Arsenal, while the Gunner’s preparation will be interrupted by a League Cup game, albeit one where they’ll field a second-string side.

Given Chelsea and Manchester City both beat Arsenal away earlier in the season, it’s vital that Liverpool do the same so that we don’t drop points to teams our rivals didn’t.

Unai Emery is a tremendous manager who has done wonders for Arsenal, regardless of the fact that they drew at Selhurst Park, the Gunners will be looking to win another home game when Liverpool come to town.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 29/10/2018

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Liverpool vs Cardiff – Premier League Preview

Liverpool Prepare for Desperate Cardiff

The Blue Jays picked up an important win against an equally unimpressive Fulham last week, but Liverpool should have no problems with the relegation favorites.

That was reflected midweek when manager Neil Warnock admitted that his side’s task was “nearly impossible”.

Jurgen Klopp will be aware that Cardiff’s plan will be to sit back and hope for a lucky goal, but with the return to form display against Red Star, there shouldn’t be any problems whatsoever.

Liverpool – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Liverpool don’t have any fresh injury concerns, but a number of players could be rested after a hectic run of tough games.

Both fullbacks have earned a break, and there isn’t too much risk involved in allowing Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne a run in this game. Similarly, Adam Lallana should be given another opportunity to start against lesser opposition.

However, Klopp  should consider starting all, or most, of Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino, Sadio Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Fabinho to ensure they can build on their last performances and take a great deal of confidence into the Arsenal game next week.

Cardiff – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Cardiff aren’t contending with any major injuries, althought the likes of Harry Arter are dealing with knocks.

Warnock will likely try and take a page out of Roy Hodgson’s book and play with two very low banks of four.

Although, Cardiff don’t have anywhere near the quality of Crystal Palace, so it’s hard to imagine this system working as well as it did at Selhurst Park.

Pre-Game Analysis

It’s difficult to see this game going any other way. Cardiff will sit back and hang on for dear life, while Liverpool will eventually find the cracks in their system and force them open.

Once Liverpool have found the net twice, it’ll be interesting to see if Klopp pursues a result of last season’s ilk and punish Cardiff when they come out to try and salvage a result, or if he instructs his men to simply see the game out.

Either way, the Reds will score goals in this game, and will finish the match as comfortable victors.

Prediction

It may appear to be overconfidence, but it’s purely logical analysis of how the game should go. Of course football is played on a pitch, not paper, but given both sides’ respective forms, this one should be a sure thing.

It’s harder to predict the lineup for this match than the result. Liverpool will almost certainly win.

The only question is by what margin? I’m going for a 4-0 routing with all three of Firmino, Salah, and Mane getting on the score sheet.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 27/10/2018

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Liverpool 4 – 0 Red Star Belgrade

Reds Star Against Belgrade

Liverpool returned to their rightful place atop of Champions League Group C after dispatching Red Star Belgrade in style under the Anfield floodlights.

The victory was nice, but what had fans talking was the all round outstanding performances from every player. It was a display reminiscent of last year’s brilliance.

Bobby Firmino’s deflected shot broke the deadlock, before Mo Salah confidently finished an excellent team move to make it two. Salah scored from the spot for his second after Mane won a penalty. Mane then missed his own chance to score a penalty, but made up for it by sliding in for the fourth and final goal of the evening.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7:

Not much can be said about Alisson’s game as he did little more than try and keep warm all night. His focus never waned on the rare occasions he was called into action though.

He managed to start a number of counter-attacks with some slick throws to unleash the likes of Andy Robertson down the flank. This could be yet another arrow in Liverpool’s quiver.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5:

Trent had another strong showing, combining intelligent passing and crossing with calm and considered defending. TAA’s contribution to our sublime defence shouldn’t be underestimated.

He could’ve claimed an assist as it was his cross that led to Mane’s missed penalty. Although, this would’ve been negated by his accidental, and comical, blocking of a Firmino shot in the first-half.

Virgil van Dijk – 7:

VVD, like Alisson, was rarely troubled by the Serbians, such was Liverpool’s stranglehold on the game. His aerial dominance was as exceptional as ever, ensuring no sloppy goals would be conceded.

The most impressive part of his performance was the way he was able to not only play out from the back, but slice through Red Star players and drive forward into the midfield.

Joe Gomez – 8.5:

Joe’s demonstrating no signs of slowing down. He was unbeatable in the air and on the ground, in particular, he showed great pace to steal the ball from Branko Jovicic on the counter, without needing to slide in.

You have to wonder where this Liverpool defence would be without young Gomez. Of course VVD is one of the league’s best and his leadership is highly valuable, but Joe’s consistency and unrelenting improvement is truly staggering.

Andy Robertson – 8:

Robbo was given the freedom to venture forward more frequently than in recent games as Jurgen Klopp knew his team could put this opposition to the sword without needing to sit back and defend a lead.

The Scot was able to move into space regularly, and his crosses were mostly on point. In fact, it was his low cross to Bobby that secured the all-important first goal of the game.

Fabinho – 8.5

This was the Fabinho Liverpool fans knew we’d bought. The big Brazilian was an utter wall in front of Liverpool’s defence, making their job even easier.

He was equally impressive on the ball by keeping it simple, but also casually picking out intelligent passes or dribbling out of danger as if it were the simplest task in the world. Surely he should be rewarded with a start against Cardiff.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7.5:

Gini is occasionally criticised for drifting in and out of games. That judgement couldn’t be more wrong in this game though, he was like a metronome throughout.

One of the biggest positives from this match is one that’s been overlooked. Gini and Fabinho worked brilliantly together despite little to no game time together in a midfield two. Their competency is what allowed Liverpool to play with four attacking players, and could be the key to developing those combinations further.

Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 8.5:

What a night for our Swiss star. This was almost certainly Shaq’s best game in Red to date, and the fact that Klopp pulled him off early to receive the full praise of the Anfield crowd is an indication that the manager wants him fresh to start against Cardiff.

Shaqiri bossed it in his first Champions League start, he was at the heart of just about every Liverpool attack. He could’ve had a hat-trick of assists in the first-half if his teammates finishing was as fine as Shaqiri’s passing. Ultimately, he had to settle for just the one after his lovely ball for Mo’s first.

Mo Salah – 8:

Mo was probably the only person wearing red that wasn’t absolutely beaming when he scored both of his goals. Mo probably feels, like a lot of others do, that this is only the beginning of his return to the heights of elite goalscorers.

Speaking of which, Salah overtook Brazilian Ronaldo’s Champions League goal tally with his brace, taking his total to 16. An accolade worthy of the player who simultaneously became the fastest player to reach 50 goals for Liverpool.

Sadio Mane – 7.5:

Mane was also on form, but was arguably the least effective out of the ‘New Fab Four’. His biggest contribution was winning the penalty, although it was a bit soft and the Kop would’ve been furious had the decision gone the other way.

As usual, he was dangerous on the counter but this time he was unable to make it count until stabbing home a selfless pass from Bobby to round out the night for the Reds.

Bobby Firmino – 8:

A slight deflection helped Bobby’s shot on its way, but his first touch and the power behind the ball suggested it was destined for the back of the net in any case.

Bobby, while starting as the striker, spent the vast majority of the game in the number 10 role, behind Mo Salah, and flanked by Shaqiri and Mane. This is almost certainly the way forward if Klopp wishes to start all four of them.

Subs

Adam Lallana (on for Shaqiri 68′) – 6.5:

His touches and turns were as smooth as ever, and Daniel Sturridge put him through on goal late on in the match, but unfortunately, he ran out of steam and was forced off the ball.

Daniel Sturridge (on for Salah 73′) – 8:

Sturridge came on for Mo when he was on a hat-trick, but the striker created more than enough chances to make up for it. His pinpoint passing and shooting is becoming a real asset off the bench.

Alberto Moreno (on for Robertson 82′) – N/A:

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, James Milner, and Divock Origi.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9.5:

Our manager had a number of decisions to weigh up before the match including player selection, tactics, and formations. On the evidence provided, he nailed those decisions, which is all you can ask of a manager.

Klopp’s probably the only Reds fan that hasn’t overreacted at any stage to our poor form, regardless of his usual animated shouting from the sidelines. It’s clear that his ability to keep the squad calm and focused is paying dividends.

One very minor bone of contention was the decision to have Origi on the bench. His time’s clearly up at the club, and considering Studge was there in case we needed a goal, it would’ve been great to see someone like Curtis Jones given a chance to be in contention for a few precious minutes of Champions League football.

Talking Points

The New Fab Four

The signs had been showing for what felt like an age that a result like this was only around the corner, all we needed was a bit of luck to kick start the confidence that would be necessary to regain our swagger.

Bobby’s deflected goal did just that, and despite all four players missing varying degrees of chances, they should all walk away satisfied with their performances and more sure of themselves that they can still rip any team to shreds.

However, this fabulous combination wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if it weren’t for the excellence of the two holding midfielders behind them.

Dynamic Duo

As I alluded to above, Gini and Fabinho’s partnership is undoubtedly the key to this new system. The fact that they’re both so adept at breaking up play and restarting attacking moves is crucial.

Of course they received help from the likes of Bobby and Shaq dropping back and pressing Red Star’s players, but their ability to hold down the midfield as a duo with ease is highly encouraging.

This result doesn’t mean we have to, or even should, use this system every game, but it’s certainly a potent option that we can use when appropriate.

Onward and Upward

PSG’s late draw against Napoli ensured that Liverpool are now ahead on the table by one point at the halfway mark of the group stage. A win in the next game, away to Red Star, would have to make Liverpool even firmer favourites to progress.

Next up though, it’s Cardiff in the league. This is a must win game for the simple fact that there’s almost no chance that Manchester City would drop points at home against Neil Warnock’s side.

Naturally, Klopp will have one eye on the following fixture, away to Arsenal; this game is a must win for different reasons. Not only are they a top-four rival, but both City and Chelsea have beaten them already. Both results came before Arsenal clicked into gear under Unai Emery, but the table doesn’t reflect that, so dropped points in this game could have an added meaning in the title race.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 25/10/2018

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Liverpool vs Red Star Belgrade – Champions League Preview

Scousers vs Serbians

In the midst of an injury crisis Liverpool now face a different kind of challenge; a must win encounter against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.

As such, the importance of the result outweighs the performance, but you can’t help but feel that this is a perfect chance to regain some attacking swagger, especially when you consider how easily PSG dispatched the Serbs.

Jurgen Klopp will have to carefully consider how many players he can afford to rest, and how much benefit will those players actually receive from missing out on a chance like this.

Liverpool – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Sadio Mane has returned to training, but it’s probably not worth risking him at this stage, especially considering the fact that Xherdan Shaqiri played so well on the weekend.

Jordan Henderson came off injured against Huddersfield and as a result, will almost certainly not feature in the Champions League game, and perhaps not even in the EPL game which follows.

Adam Lallana may also benefit from Liverpool’s midfield injuries despite his poor showing against the Terriers. Hopefully he’ll be better in a game that should be of a lower intensity.

Red Star – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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Red Star have a number of injury concerns of their own to deal with, which isn’t an ideal situation when you’re travelling away to Anfield on a European night.

Captain Vujadin Savic was withdrawn against PSG, and hasn’t returned since, and Filip Stojkovic is also in doubt.

Marko Marin is perhaps the club’s most familiar name, as the former Chelsea man will also miss out due to injury.

Pre-Game Analysis

Red Star are a very physical side and attacker Richmond Boakye is the main benefactor from this style of play, scoring five goals in his last four league games.

The Serbians also managed a respectable draw at home against Napoli where they were able to use their physicality and grit to frustrate the Italians. However, they were then annihilated 6-1 by PSG.

Even a weakened Liverpool should outclass Red Star and run riot over their midfield and defence, while comfortably swatting away counter-attacks.

Prediction

Shaqiri, Mo Salah, and Bobby Firmino will enjoy a familiar night of chances followed by chances. All Liverpool fans will be hoping that this is the night where they get their mojo back.

Fabinho’s introduction should assist this process by providing a solid base from which Liverpool can commit significant numbers to each attack.

Liverpool will reclaim the top spot in their group with a convincing and relieving 4-0 victory.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 24/10/2018

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