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

Horror Result

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

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

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

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 4

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

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

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 2.5

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

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

Joel Matip – 3

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

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

Virgil van Dijk – 4

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

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

Andy Robertson – 4.5

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

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

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Gini Wijnaldum – 3

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

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

James Milner – 3.5

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

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

Adam Lallana – 2

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

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

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Mo Salah – 4

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

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

Sadio Mane – 3.5

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

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

Daniel Sturridge – 2

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

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

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Subs

Bobby Firmino – (on for Sturridge 46′) 4.5

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

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

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

Divock Origi – (on for Lallana 79′) 3

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

Unused Subs

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

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 3

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

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

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

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Talking Points

Last 16

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

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

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

Cause for Concern

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

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

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

Not All Doom and Gloom

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

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

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

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

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

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Red Star vs Liverpool – Champions League Preview

No Excuses for Anything Less Than a Win

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

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

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

Red Star Belgrade – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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

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

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

Liverpool – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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

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

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

Pre-Game Analysis

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

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

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

Prediction

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

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

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

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

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

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Liverpool 4 – 0 Red Star Belgrade

Reds Star Against Belgrade

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

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

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

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7:

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

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

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5:

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

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

Virgil van Dijk – 7:

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

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

Joe Gomez – 8.5:

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

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

Andy Robertson – 8:

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

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

Fabinho – 8.5

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

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

Gini Wijnaldum – 7.5:

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

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

Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 8.5:

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

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

Mo Salah – 8:

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

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

Sadio Mane – 7.5:

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

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

Bobby Firmino – 8:

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

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

Subs

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

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

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

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

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

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

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

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9.5:

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

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

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

Talking Points

The New Fab Four

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

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

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

Dynamic Duo

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

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

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

Onward and Upward

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

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

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

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

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

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Liverpool vs Red Star Belgrade – Champions League Preview

Scousers vs Serbians

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

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

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

Liverpool – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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

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

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

Red Star – Team News and Predicted Lineup

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

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

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

Pre-Game Analysis

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

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

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

Prediction

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

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

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

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

 

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

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