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