Tottenham 1 – 2 Liverpool

First Hurdle In Difficult Stretch Cleared

Jurgen Klopp described Liverpool’s victory at Wembley as the “best performance of the season”.

“The performance today was better that the result. Especially because in all the games (before), we had really good moments, but today we had 85 brilliant minutes”, Klopp said.

Despite the improved performance, the result should’ve been far more clear cut as finishing let the Reds down.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7:

Alisson promised last week that he wouldn’t repeat the error that led to Leicester’s goal, and he was good for his word.

The Brazilian was far more efficient with the ball and pulled off a strong save to dent Christian Eriksen. Alisson can take no share of the blame for Erik Lamela’s rocketed shot into the bottom corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5:

The young Scouser put on another impressive display and was influential at both ends of the pitch.

TAA had a chance to score from a well-placed free-kick, but unfortunately he couldn’t work the keeper after beating the wall.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Another credible display against top opposition shows that Gomez is finally fulfilling his immense potential.

One lapse early in the second-half to allow Harry Kane through on goal was the only blemish on an excellent performance, punctuated by an incredible covering run to deny the speedy Lucas Moura.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.5:

VVD hadn’t been at his best for the previous few Liverpool games, but as was to be expected, he’s returned to form without too much delay.

Most impressive of all was his ability to completely nullify Kane to the point that it was easy to forget the England striker was on the pitch.

Andy Robertson – 7.5:

Another copy and paste review of Robbo’s performance. Solid at both ends of the pitch.

The new Scottish captain has made a metoric rise in the last year, and one wonders how much further he has to grow.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

The curse is over! Gini finally scored an away goal in the league, so you have to wonder what the commentators will say now whenever he touches the ball in an away game.

His headed goal was undoubtedly the highlight of his day despite some good positional work, he was also guilty at times of stunting attacking movements with uncharacteristically poor passes.

James Milner – 8:

Milner, like Gini, is just about undroppable at the moments, and if these two keep it up Fabinho will struggle for game time.

His positional sense was exemplary, filling in for others as they pushed up. The only negative was once giving the ball away dangerously on the edge of the box.

Naby Keita – 7:

He’s still not quite there unfortunately, and this really was the game to kick start his Liverpool career properly.

He had a couple of chances to score, but couldn’t, and in general still appeared to be rusty. Of course he’ll come good at some stage, but hopefully that is sooner rather than later.

Mo Salah – 6:

Mo kept getting into the right positions, but consistently picked out the wrong option or simply fluffed the chance, including a one on one with Michel Vorm.

Some of this is undoubtedly down to putting extra pressure on himself to replicate last year’s heroics, but we need him back at his best for the games to come.

Sadio Mane – 7:

Like Salah, Mane was causing the opposition defence no end of problems, but couldn’t convert or pick out the right option.

He failed to find Gini when he was clean on goal, and fell over himself when a goal beckoned. In fairness to both wingers, despite not having the end-product, their overall games were quite good.

Bobby Firmino – 8.5 (Man of the Match):

This was undoubtedly Firmino’s best game of the season, although still miles away from his devastating best.

His composure on the ball was a sight to behold as his deft touches and turns were justly rewarded with the winning goal.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – (on for Firmino 74′) 6.5:

Hendo did a decent job after subbing on for Firmino. Bobby was severely poked in the eye by Jan Vertonghen, yet the referee blew a foul in Spurs’ favour much to Klopp’s bemusement.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Keita 82′) 6.5:

Keita had to fill in for Bobby when he went off, but Studge couldn’t do much better when he came on with only minutes to go. Has to take part of the blame for losing Lamela at the back post.

Joel Matip – (on for Alexander-Arnold 89′) N/A:

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs – Simon Mignloet, Alberto Moreno, Fabinho, and Xherdan Shaqiri

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Klopp has to take a lot of credit for Liverpool’s perfect start considering the performances haven’t been the best.

Rotating the team would’ve been tempting, but our best XI was required for the league which is the ultimate prize.

Talking Points

How Much Longer Until Our Front Three Are Back?

All Liverpool fans were left frustrated at times when our attack either couldn’t finish chances they would’ve snapped up last season, or selfishly picked out the wrong option when an easy goal beckoned.

Klopp himself was seething on the sidelines at times, regularly bellowing at those he felt were culpable.

With that level of fury, it’s certain that Klopp will focus his attention on this side of things, and surely it won’t be long until they’re either back to their best or the likes of Shaqiri and Sturridge are given a chance to do better.

Klopp’s Plans

As much as I believe it’s a good thing that Klopp chose to not rotate in this game, it does raise the question as to his intentions for the rest of the squad.

How much longer will the likes of Fabinho and Shaqiri in particular need before their ready to prove their work.

Some have suggested the next game against PSG in the Champions League will be the occasion Klopp finally rotates, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not the case.

First Step of Many

Liverpool’s next game is at home vs PSG, followed by what should be a fairly straightforward home fixture against Southampton.

Given that fact, Klopp may play his best XI against PSG, then rest them vs Southampton so that they’re fresh to take on undefeated Chelsea and league favorites Manchester City.

Whatever the case, continuing our winning form in the league is the most important thing and Klopp will likely have the same opinion.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 16/09/2018

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Tottenham vs Liverpool – Preview

Liverpool Kick Off Run of Tough Fixtures at Wembley

Liverpool have made a perfect start to the season so far, and so had Tottenham until they were defeated by a plucky Watford side.

Spurs will be looking to ruin Liverpool’s run and get their own season back on track ahead of the mid-week Champions League games.

It’ll be a difficult game to predict after the international break, and much will depend on the freshness and availability of each sides players.

Tottenham

Team News and Predicted Lineup

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As mentioned above, predicting a result, let alone a lineup for this game will prove exceedingly difficult.

The only certainties for Tottenham are that Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris will miss the game through injury.The rest of the team however, is highly interchangeable, particularly in midfield and defence.

Davinson Sanchez could be an option despite coming back late from international duty, while Danny Rose and Serge Aurier could feature if Keiran Trippier or Ben Davies aren’t fit to play.

Liverpool

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Likewise, the Reds’ lineup will be difficult to pick. Despite the fact that we have a run of difficult fixtures coming up, Klopp may elect to not rotate for this match.

News broke this week that Dejan Lovren will be sidelined for a further month at least, while Adam Lallana picked up a minor injury while away on England duty. Simon Mignloet also suffered a knock, but should still make the bench.

Klopp’s other options that may start ahead of those who travelled include Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, as well as the more exciting possibilities of Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Pre-Game Analysis

Like Liverpool, Tottenham have been, mostly, securing good results despite sub-par performances. In particular, star striker Harry Kane is yet to hit top form, much like our front three.

Given the stunted attack, the midfield battle becomes even more important and so it will be up to James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum to wrangle Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele, while Eric Dier struggles to contain Naby Keita.

This will be the game where Keita must stand up and cause Spurs serious damage, as his ability to operate between the lines will be key to breaking up their well-drilled defence.

Prediction

If Liverpool play to their best ability, then we should be able to handle every Spurs throw at us while causing them serious problems at their end.

But it’s unlikely we’ll see the Reds at their best at Wembley due to the hangover from the international break.

Given that, another gutsy performance will be required to get the win, and the Reds will do so in a 1-3 victory.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 15/09/2018

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Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Liverpool

Liverpool Lucky to Win

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

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

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

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

 

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

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

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5:

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

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

Joel Matip – 4:

 

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

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

Virgil van Dijk – 6:

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

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

Andy Robertson – 8 (Man of the Match):

 

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

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

Jordan Henderson – 4:

 

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

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

Gini Wijnaldum – 3:

 

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

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

James Milner – 7:

 

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

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

Mo Salah – 7:

 

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

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

Sadio Mane – 7:

 

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

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

Roberto Firmino – 6:

 

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

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

Subs

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Lovren was solid as Klopp changed to a back three.

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

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

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

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

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

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

Talking Points

TAA Roasted Again

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

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

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

Klopp’s Adjustments

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

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

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

Season Defining Run Ahead

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

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

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

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

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

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