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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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


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


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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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.


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

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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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.


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

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.


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.


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!


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.



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.


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?


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


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

Liverpool 0 – 0 Manchester City

Stalemate Between Title Contenders

Before the match I stressed how difficult it was to make a prediction for this game. But who would’ve thought it’d end in a 0-0 draw?

The biggest talking point will of course be Riyad Mahrez’s shocking penalty miss in the dying minutes. However, neither side truly did enough to deserve all three points and assert their dominance at the top of the table.

Liverpool now head into the international break tied with City and Chelsea on 20 points each.


Player Ratings

Alisson – 8:

Another strong display from the Brazilian despite not being forced into too many saves. His distribution was mostly faultless, and he maintained his concentration well to keep a clean sheet after some challenging, if sporadic, saves.

It’s possible he had a hand in putting Mahrez off of his penalty, but regardless, he dived the right way and had the shot covered even if it managed to sneak under the crossbar.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Surprisingly, Gomez was played at right-back for the first time this year over Trent Alexander-Arnold.

It took Joe a while to grow into the role against such challenging opposition, but once he did, he owned Liverpool’s right edge. City’s flow down their left was stunted, and Joe’s crossing almost led to a few chances.

Dejan Lovren – (Man of the Match) 9:

If you don’t think Lovren was excellent, then you aren’t being honest and are still holding past mistakes against him.

You could argue he was fortunate to avoid giving away a penalty, but the referee made the right call. The fact is, Lovren was outstanding and completely outclassed the dangerous Gabriel Jesus when he was introduced.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5:

VVD was on track for another outstanding performance before he dived in and needlessly brought down Leroy Sane in the box; almost costing his side the game.

Aside from this moment of madness though, he was extremely composed on the ball and didn’t give the City forwards more than a sniff at goal.

Andy Robertson – 7:

Robbo improved greatly on his recent performances, and in particular, he showed far greater skill on the ball at times.

One cracking pass through the middle completely caught the City defence napping, and nearly led to what would’ve been a winning goal for Mo Salah.


Jordan Henderson – 8.5:

This was undoubtedly Hendo’s best game of the season. Aside from a few misplaced passes that put those around him under pressure, he was a consistent asset with and without the ball.

For the first time in a long while, Hendo put in a true captain’s display and his influence on the game was one of the main factors in Liverpool securing a result.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7.5:

There’s few players in the Premier League with a better touch than Gini. There was countless occasions when he was surrounded by City players and one simple flick or turn took three players out of the game.

That’s no easy feat when you consider the quality players he had to contend with on the day. Its just a shame that we weren’t at our attacking best to take advantage of this aspect of the Dutchman’s game.

James Milner – 6:

Milner was unfortunately forced off the pitch early with a hamstring injury, but hopefully he’ll be fine after the international break.

Before he came off he was solid but unspectacular, not doing much of note.


Mo Salah – 7:

It’s still not quite happening for The Egyptian King. His movement was excellent despite being marked by the physically imposing Benjamin Mendy, and this led to a couple of half-chances which he failed to convert.

Hopefully he’ll come back refreshed after the break. Wish international teams would think more about their players and give the ones who need it a well earned rest.

Sadio Mane – 6:

Mane is another who would benefit from having a rest from international duty. It would help his club form which would in turn allow Senegal to get the best out of him.

To be fair to Mane, Kyle Walker can make any winger’s day miserable, but too often Mane’s touch was woeful.

Bobby Firmino – 6:

Bobby’s touch wasn’t at its best either. His pressing was excellent as usual, but he was unable to create much and was deservedly hooked for Daniel Sturridge.

Brazil and England’s national teams arrive back the latest out of any country, and this certainly won’t help Bobby get back to his best.



Naby Keita – 6 (on for Milner 29′):

Keita was brought on to replace to injured Miler, but was unable to fill the ‘Ox role’ that many fans were hoping to see after its effectiveness against City last season.

Perhaps its still too soon for Naby, but fans still want to see more from him.

Daniel Sturridge – 6 (on for Firmino 72′):

Sturridge didn’t have much service after coming on as City gave a final push to win.

Although, he did have once chance to get a goal, but could only head Gomez’s cross straight at Ederson.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri


Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Klopp took some risks in this game, and for the most part they payed off.

Few were expecting Alexander-Arnold to be dropped to the bench, although in my Napoli review, I pointed out that City could target Trent due to his developing positional sense.

Putting Gomez in at right back worked well, and reintroducing Lovren certainly paid dividends. The only blemishes on Klopp’s game were the result and his failure to introduce Shaqiri despite Mane and Salah’s poor performances.


Talking Points

Champions Fear Liverpool

It was clear from the get-go that City altered their tactics against Liverpool, which is not a regular occurance for a team that many consider to be the best in the world.

Pep Guardiola admitted as much after the game, saying “If you play so quick, they are much better than us. If it’s an open game against Liverpool, you don’t even have one chance, not even one percent.”

City were conservative attack and they were certainly more content with a draw than the hosts. But despite this, for the first 15 minutes, Liverpool put them on the back foot, resembling last season’s thrashings.

Missing Spark in Midfield

One of the major themes from those cracking games last season wasn’t just Liverpool’s sublime attack, it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s presence in midfield and being able to slice through City.

His direct dribbling caused panic and opened up spaces for other players to run into. In this game, we were lacking any sort of drive from the midfield and too often were forced into trying to go over or around the City defence.

This isn’t an easy fix, as the Ox will likely miss the rest of the season. We’ll need Keita to step up and fill his shoes in order for us to regain this aspect of our game.

Defenders Steal the Show

In a game where all the hype and highlight packages surrounded both team’s attacking potency, it’s easy to forget that it was also a clash between the league’s two best defences.

On this occasion, it was the defenders who came out on top. This is partially due to the forwards misfiring, but you have to give credit where it’s due.

Last season, particularly in the first half of it, the equation was simple. If Liverpool’s attack didn’t click, we lost. Our defenders were virtually incapable of keeping a clean sheet, but that couldn’t be further from the truth these days. Our defence is regularly winning points for the team, and that was certainly the case against City.


You’ll Never Walk Alone


Cieren O’Dea


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

Napoli 1 – 0 Liverpool

Liverpool Beaten After Flat Display

Out of context, a 1-0 loss away to Napoli in the Champions League isn’t a big deal. However, it was the manner of this defeat that has Reds fans upset. In all honesty, the scoreline flattered us.

Liverpool’s midfield looked hapless, our fullbacks were run ragged, and worst of all, the attack failed to click yet again.

Lorenzo Insigne won it for the hosts in the 90th minute with a long overdue goal. Not many players in red can take any momentum into the Manchester City game.

Player Ratings

Alisson – (Man of the Match) 8:

After the game, Klopp said “It’s always a bad sign when you have to say your goalkeeper was your best player, but it was obvious tonight”. That pretty much sums it up.

The Brazilian was outstanding and made several top saves to keep his team in the game. He was let down by some of his teammates who gifted chance after chance to the Italians.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4:

In complete contrast to his performance against PSG where he easily handled Neymar, Trent was run ragged by Napoli. Even his passing, which usually very impressive, was wayward at times.

He was caught at the wrong end of the pitch too often and didn’t track back to resolve the issue. Manchester City will surely have identified this as an aspect to exploit.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Perhaps the only player whose form hasn’t dipped at any point this season. Joe was unbelievable again; comfortably coping with the quality attackers who tested him. He even led some attacks as he grew frustrated with the static midfielders ahead of him.

Some have questioned whether he should take some of the blame for the goal. He reacted a fraction too late for Insigne’s run, but that pales in comparison to the mistakes others made.

Virgil van Dijk – 7:

If it weren’t for our centre-back pairing, then the result could’ve been a lot worse. In particular, van Dijk made a courageous block to save his team around an hour into the game. He wasn’t as faultless as his partner though, Milner rescued one of his poor passes, and he was turned inside-out by Arkadiusz Milik.

Needs to be strong again on the weekend if his midfielders and fullbacks provide as little support against City as they did in this game.

Andy Robertson – 6:

Robbo wasn’t as bad as Trent defensively and positionally, despite having to deal with the pacy Jose Callejon. However, his final ball was lacking just like in the Chelsea game.

He’s a terrific player, but Robbo needs to improve his quality on the ball because so much of our play comes down the left-hand side. If he can, then he’ll be one of the best fullbacks in Europe, let alone the league.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6:

The best of the worst in midfield. There were times in the first half when I’d forgotten he was on the pitch, but he did improve in the second. His impeccable first touch helped the midfield maintain something of a foothold in the game.

The main reason he’s rated higher than his midfield colleagues is that Gini didn’t make any glaring mistakes, rather than having a good individual display.

James Milner – 5:

This was Milner’s worst performance in recent memory. In the last few matches Milner has fatigued as games went on, but against Napoli he looked tired from the get-go.

Fabinho was rightly brought on to replace him, but the change arguably could’ve come sooner as Milner did nothing to lead his side to victory aside from his usual marathon running.

Naby Keita – 3:

A Champions League night to forget for the Guinean for more reason than one. He misplaced passes and generally looked lost in a game that should’ve been his for the taking.

Went down injured after 19 minutes, and despite his performance, Liverpool fans will be hoping that he’ll be back sooner rather than later.

Sadio Mane – 6:

Despite most of the talk being about Salah’s ‘slump’, Mane doesn’t look much better at the moment. However, some more protection from the referee could’ve led to a more fruitful night.

He was as lively as ever, but too often he gave the ball away when Liverpool had a chance to create something. Unfortunately, those chances didn’t come very often either.

Mo Salah – 6:

Like Mane, you can’t fault Salah’s effort. He’s a player that’s clearly struggling for confidence. Statistically, he’s roughly on par with where he was this time last season, but you can’t help but feel that he’s not coping well.

Maybe he is going through a slump after all. Or perhaps we as fans need to manage our expectations better. Only time will tell.

Bobby Firmino – 7:

Bobby toiled through the match and did his best to try and create something with the scraps he was being fed from midfield. In all fairness, he did forge a couple of half-chances, but they led to nothing.

A lot of Salah’s success last season could be attributed to Bobby. He can’t do it alone though, he needs someone to feed and play off of.


Jordan Henderson – 6 (on for Keita 19′):

Hendo looked fired up when he came on, but unfortunately, he couldn’t transfer his enthusiasm into quality opportunities for the forwards.

Fabinho (on for Milner 76′) – 5:

Fabinho wasn’t too bad, but he’s yet to show proper glimpses of the quality that we all know he possesses.

Daniel Sturridge (on for Mane 89′) – N/A:

Should’ve been brought on much earlier. No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, and Xherdan Shaqiri.


Jurgen Klopp – 4:

While the result doesn’t rest solely on Klopp’s shoulders, he was outdone by a tactical masterclass from Carlo Ancelotti.

Klopp seemed reluctant to change his game plan even though it was clearly not working and the players weren’t executing it. The manager can hardly be blamed for individual errors though.

Strangely, Klopp went back to his old ways by taking an age to bring on his subs to try and rescue the game. Granted, he was a sub down after being forced into a change 19 minutes into the game, but Milner was exhausted long before he was subbed off. Likewise, Shaqiri and Sturridge can feel slightly miffed at not being trusted to change the game.

Talking Points

What This Means For Our Champions League Dream

In short, not a lot, yet. Napoli now sit on top of the group with four points, while PSG and Liverpool are tied for second with three points each.

Three points from a home game against PSG and an away trip to Napoli is nothing to be embarrassed by. However, given that the next two matches should be relatively easy wins against Red Star Belgrade, a draw in this fixture would’ve surely secured progression into the round of 16 with two games to spare.

There’s no time to dwell on that though, and the Reds will do what Liverpool do best: we go again. We’ll be better in the return leg, and that should be enough to get the job done so long as the PSG vs Napoli fixtures go our way.

Manchester City

Before the season started, this was a fixture that most Liverpool fans were gleefully looking forward to. But now there’s a sense of dread for what could happen if we aren’t at our best.

City have the quality to wreak havoc on the very best European sides, and Liverpool aren’t playing like one at the moment. Thankfully, City aren’t in top form either despite a string of good results.

The Citizens have key injuries that could be enough to give Liverpool a chance of recapturing the play that brought the champions to their knees last season.

The Positives

It may not seem like it, but there are some positives to take away. First and foremost, our centre backs and goalkeeper are outstanding. This is not a trait that has been associated with Liverpool for a very long time. Given that we’re below par at the moment, the fact that those three are still standing strong bodes well for when we are up and running.

We haven’t been brilliant in any of our games this season, but this is the first one where we were poor. Klopp knows that, and so do the players. This isn’t a trend that’s been plaguing us, all we need is a bit of luck to get the engines roaring and we’ll be on our way to greatness.

You could even argue that this is a good time to play City despite that fact that our form isn’t ideal. We usually rise for big games, and a good result in this one could be just what the doctor ordered for our players who are struggling.


You’ll Never Walk Alone


Cieren O’Dea


Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – on 04/10/2018

Chelsea 1 – 1 Liverpool

Super Studge Rescues a Point

Before the game, I wanted nothing less than three points and for to continue our perfect start to the season. By the 88th minute though, I would’ve bitten your hand off for a draw.

Liverpool had the majority of chances throughout the game, but Eden Hazard only needed one to cooly put the hosts in front.

Daniel Sturridge’s outrageous strike from distance in the 89th minute saved the Reds from their first defeat in the league. Thanks to him, we take on Manchester City next week only behind on goal difference.


Player Ratings

Alisson – 9:

Some have argued that the Brazilian ‘keeper hadn’t been truly tested yet, despite the hype surrounding him. Those arguments no longer have a leg to stand on.

Alisson made many strong saves, catches, and clearances throughout the game, including two unbelievable efforts to deny Willian and Hazard when they were in the clear. He could do nothing to stop Chelsea’s goal as Hazard expertly buried it in the far corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5:

Trent’s main problem was that he kept getting caught out pushing too far up the pitch. Ordinarily, I’d praise the young lad for being so brave, but a more conservative approach was required on a day when he needed to shackle Hazard.

Unfortunately, he was mostly unimpressive when attacking as well. The majority of his crosses were utterly wayward and led to nothing.

Joe Gomez – 8.5:

Gomez had another cracking game where he looked completely unfazed by the quality of players running at him.

There were times when his teammates started to panic, but Joe consistently and calmly cleaned up at the back and got the ball moving again quickly.

Virgil van Dijk – 9:

VVD, like Gomez and Alisson, was responsible for denying Chelsea some excellent opportunities to seal all three points.

There had been rumblings that the big Dutchman hadn’t quite been at his dominant best this season and his recent rib injury further complicated matters. However, he more than silenced any remaining doubters with a vintage and commanding performance.

Andrew Robertson – 6:

Robbo had an increasingly rare, sub-par, performance in a Reds shirt in this game, and seemed flustered by the occasion and the pressure of having to come from behind.

Like Trent, he went AWOL at times and let Willian run free at Alisson. However, he could’ve been a hero if Xherdan Shaqiri converted from Robbo’s perfect low cross.


Jordan Henderson – 4:

When he’s not playing at his best, Hendo can be an easy target for Reds fans. Many have questioned whether he should still be at the club, let alone be wearing the armband.

I believe these criticisms are too harsh. However, it’s undeniable that he had a poor game. His decisions were consistently baffling, giving away cheap passes to the opposition or passing backwards in the middle of a counter-attacking move.

Gini Wijnaldum – 5:

It’s strange that Gini played ahead of Hendo in this game, considering he’s been playing so well in the holding role.

Gini failed to influence the game in any meaningful way, and like Robbo, he looked nervous as the game went on.

James Milner – 7:

In the wake of the game, many have said that Milner was just as culpable of not influencing the game. I strongly disagree.

Granted, there were a couple of times where his final ball let him down, but he created chances for his teammates, including selflessly crossing to Bobby Firmino, only for the Brazilian to head into the path of David Luiz.


Mo Salah – 6:

Same again for Salah. Excellent movement, brilliant chances, tame finishing. We all know he’s just one good game from being back to his confident best, but we needed that to happen in this game.

Salah had a host of chances to put Liverpool in front but simply could not do so, and apart from being denied by a covering Antonio Rudiger, he didn’t really come close.

Sadio Mane – 6:

Mane probably didn’t do enough to help his team win the game. The headlines will all be about Salah’s chances, but Mane isn’t in top form either at the moment.

Having said that, Mane bamboozled the Chelsea defence on one occasion and forced Kepa into a difficult low-save just before the hour mark.

Bobby Firmino – 6:

Bobby’s primary influence in the game was harassing Jorginho as he tried to pull strings from the deep.

Aside from that, he wasn’t at his creative best in attack, and missed a glorious chance to level the scores after Milner provided him with a beautiful cross. Bobby’s header didn’t have much wrong with it, Luiz just had the presence of mind to be in the perfect position to deny him.



Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Salah 66′) 7:

Missed a sitter to level the scores soon after coming on, but at least he caused issues for Chelsea.

Naby Keita – (on for Henderson 78′) 8:

Looked hungry to make a difference in his short time on the pitch. Many fans will be calling for him to start instead of Hendo for the City game.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Milner 86′) (Man of the Match) 10:

What a strike. For the second time this season Sturridge scored with one of his first touches of the ball. He’s going to have a big say over Liverpool’s success this season.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Joel Matip, and Fabinho.


Jurgen Klopp – 7:

It’s difficult to give Klopp a rating for this game. His starting lineup wasn’t terrible; however, many would’ve liked to have seen Keita start over Hendo.

Regardless, the midfield failed to step up to the challenge, and both fullbacks were consistently caught out. Klopp adjusted these aspects though and ended up rescuing a result.

All three subs made a real difference and were brought in at a reasonably proactive time, but Keita and Sturridge might’ve been brought on sooner in hindsight.


Talking Points

Subs Changed the Game

The latest trend that’s changing at Liverpool is the use of substitutions. Previously, even under Klopp, it’s been typical that the quality of the bench is shocking, and they’re never brought on with enough time to change the game.

In the last few games though, Klopp has started to buck this trend, and he did so to great effect in this game. Shaqiri, Keita, and of course Sturridge, all helped Liverpool assert their dominance and achieve a result that for large portions of the game seemed out of reach.

This could prove to be a crucial aspect in Liverpool’s title challenge as we can now change games that aren’t going the way we want them to.

Misfiring Salah

Salah is a magnificent player. That hasn’t changed. You can see it in his movements and his ability to create chances, but his finishing is badly letting him down.

That fact is affecting his confidence, which hurts his finishing further, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whenever he’s through on goal, it’s not just that he keeps trying to cut back onto his stronger left foot, Salah’s taking a few touches too many because he doesn’t have the self-belief to bury it.

We can all see the problem, but what is the solution? We need him at his best, and dropping him wouldn’t exactly do his confidence much good. Let’s hope for a big performance next week.

A Good Point

Manchester City are now ahead of us on goal difference. It’s a shame, but in reality, it’s not a big deal right now.

City have had a much easier start to the season. Their biggest games so far have been: beating a poor Arsenal side who hadn’t adapted to Unai Emery’s style yet, drawing to Wolves, and being comfortably beaten by Lyon. That’s it.

Liverpool on the other hand have had good results from: Tottenham away, PSG at home, and now Chelsea away. Of course, this doesn’t mean next’s week game against City becomes any less important, but we as fans need to maintain some level of perspective during this time.


You’ll Never Walk Alone


Cieren O’Dea


Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 30/09/2018

Liverpool 1 – 2 Chelsea

Reds Bow Out of Carabao Cup

This result brought out mixed emotions for Liverpool fans. Some are disappointed to lose to a rival and miss another chance for silverware, but many are viewing this as a blessing in disguise.

As predicted in the preview, Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri elected to rotate their squads. Both sides produced a few decent chances in the first half, but it wasn’t until the second that the game truly came to life.

Daniel Sturridge pounced on a rebound to score with an overhead kick, putting the hosts in front. But a sloppy set-piece goal from Emerson followed by an incredible goal by Eden Hazard sealed what was ultimately a fair result on the day.

Player Ratings

Simon Mignolet – 7:

Mignolet made a few strong saves throughout the game to keep his side in it, including one from point-blank range to deny Alvaro Morata in the first half.

He couldn’t do anything about Hazard’s powerful and precise finish, and did well to save the initial header which led to the equaliser.

Nathaniel Clyne – 6:

Clyne did relatively well on his first competitive start for what feels like an age considering he had to contend with Willian while maintaining his own duties as an attacking fullback.

A good ball over the top for Sturridge was the highlight of his day, but he clearly didn’t do enough to displace Trent Alexander-Arnold from the starting lineup.

Joel Matip – 6.5:

The big Cameroonian wasn’t quite as good this time out but he still put in a decent shift. Although, he could’ve been more authoritative for the set-piece goal.

Matip and Dejan Lovren probably shouldn’t play together as they need one of Joe Gomez or Virgil van Dijk beside them as a calming influence and to cover for their lack of pace.

Dejan Lovren – 5:

Lovren didn’t do himself any favours in trying to reestablish himself as a first-choice centre-back, although he will need time to shake off the rust.

Overall he had a poor game, allowing himself to be turned numerous times by a player struggling for confidence in Morata, and his positional sense was severely lacking throughout.

Alberto Moreno – 3:

Oh boy. Simply put, Andy Robertson is in no danger of losing his starting place. Moreno looked completely out of his depth against Victor Moses, whereas Robbo dealt with Kylian Mbappe with relative ease.

Left-back is possibly the only position where depth is still lacking. Moreno isn’t even good enough for our ‘B-Team’ anymore.

Fabinho – 6:

A six might even be a bit generous here. Fabinho was virtually absent for most of the half, but in fairness, he did gradually grow into the game.

Fans would be foolish to write him off already though as he will undoubtedly become a tremendous asset once he gets through this bedding-in process.

James Milner – 6.5:

Milner was visibly frustrated with his midfield partners at times, as he has become used to the fluidity of the first team and how most movements are second-nature.

Milly fatigued badly as the game went on. He’ll need to be rotated carefully in the coming busy period.

Naby Keita – 7:

Keita had a few sloppy moments throughout the game, but overall his influence was a positive one. His skills were on show, but like Fabinho, he needs more time to settle in.

He made space for himself in the midfield and tested his luck with a few shots on goal. Encouraging stuff from the new signing; you get the sense that a big performance and the confidence that comes with it will be the spark he needs to really get rolling.

Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 7.5:

Shaqiri was involved in almost every attacking play that Liverpool produced and should’ve had an assist after playing Sturridge through with a wonderful pass.

He had a few wild shots blaze high and wide, but that’s to be expected from a confident player who backs himself from distance when a passing option isn’t on.

Sadio Mane – 7:

Some might argue that Mane should’ve been rested, or at least substituted earlier. In any case, his movement was terrific as usual, and he did cause the Chelsea defence some real headaches on several occasions.

He probably should’ve scored when he headed a beautiful cross straight into the arms of Willy Caballero, but it wasn’t the easiest of chances.

Daniel Sturridge – 7:

What a strange day for Studge. First he missed a sitter, then he scored an overhead kick, and finally, he hit the crossbar.

On occasions, his touch was slightly off, but it was another solid game for him overall. He even showed some nous with his pressing in the second half.


Jordan Henderson – (on for Milner 58′) 5.5:

Hendo couldn’t influence the game as much as Milner had done previously. It’s questionable if this performance warrants a starting berth on the weekend.

Bobby Firmino – (on for Mane 71′) 6:

Bobby came on at the worst possible time as he tried in vain to battle against the turning tide.

Mo Salah – (on for Fabinho 89′) N/A:

Not enough time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Kamil Grabara, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones, and Dominic Solanke.


Jurgen Klopp – 7:

Klopp rotated well, and he knew that throwing the kids to the lions was not the way to go given the strength of Chelsea’s lineup.

He rallied the troops in the second half to a seemingly positive effect but could do little about the individual errors which ultimately cost his side the win.

He used his substitutions at appropriate times, although it’s arguable that Mane should’ve been brought off sooner for preservation, and Salah could’ve come on straight after Hazard put the visitors in front.

Talking Points

Tough Result – We Go Again

On the balance of play, Chelsea probably deserved the win. However, Liverpool had plenty of chances themselves, and on another day the result could’ve been quite different.

That’s what Reds fans will be hoping for on the weekend when we play them again at Stamford Bridge. Klopp himself acknowledged the importance of the league fixture and how his side will take lessons into it.

“We left too many spaces open and stuff like that, [where] they could play between the lines, [but] we already had bigger chances. They were not really a big threat, I would say. More and more we got used to it.”

Negatives of Bowing Out

Aside from the most obvious negative being us only winning the treble this season, the biggest problem is that certain fringe players miss another chance to rack up precious minutes.

The likes of Keita, Fabinho, Shaqiri, and Sturridge would’ve benefited greatly from these extra games to allow them to integrate more quickly.

Likewise, with a potentially easier draw in the next round, Curtis Jones, Dominic Solanke, Nat Phillips, and Rafa Camacho could’ve been given an opportunity to shine.

Benefits of Bowing Out

The Carabao Cup is securely the fourth most important piece of silverware that was up for grabs this season, so missing out doesn’t sting too badly.

It means fewer midweek games to plan around, and fewer minutes stacked up by tired legs. All of our rivals, aside from Manchester United (thanks to Harry Wilson), have to play at least one more game than us, but only one can win it.

In some ways, this is the best time to go out. We didn’t embarrass ourselves by losing to a championship side with an inexperienced manager. We went out to a good team at the earliest possible chance. This is nowhere near as bad as playing several more games and being knocked out in the semis.


You’ll Never Walk Alone


Cieren O’Dea


Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – on 27/09/2018