Last night Liverpool played Burton Albion at the Pirelli stadium during the second round of the EFL cup and saw out a comfortable 5-0 win. Here are 5 things we learnt from the game:
Last night’s game was a chance for Liverpool to redeem themselves after a lacklustre performance against Burnley on Saturday. The EFL cup is not only a chance for Liverpool to win a trophy, but also a chance to make it into Europe next year.
I tuned in a few minutes before kick-off and saw the players warming up, including Joel Matip – last night was his first competitive debut and personally his performance made me think about Liverpool’s defensive options. He played with confidence and added quality, not only at the back but also in midfield, with decisive runs going forward.
Mane makes things happen.
A standout player in last night’s game was summer signing Sadio Mane, his incisive play and intense pressure helped Liverpool win the game assisting two of the goals with brilliant build-up play.
Considering Mane’s price tag has come into question on a number of occasions, I think after his last few performances it is safe to say he was worth it. He adds something unique into Liverpool’s attack and even when it looks like there is no chance of getting into the box for a chance on goal Mane finds a way, both providing and scoring the goals.
Origi’s goal was a perfect example of how Mane can change a nothing chance into something. After a weak ball from Milner which looked like it would come to nothing, Mane managed to control it and carve his way through Burton Albion’s defence before placing a ball along the line for Origi to finish cheekily. Throughout the game Liverpool’s counter attacks were quicker and play in and around the box was much more incisive when Mane was involved.
This was to be expected from the attacking midfielder who showed great pace and talent in Liverpool’s thrilling game against Arsenal on his Premier League debut for Liverpool. He exposed Burton Albion’s defence with quick passing and incisive movement but for the most part it seems his pace is what troubles most defences. His performance last night shows us that he should be played every week as he has a lot to offer going forward.
Joel Matip can and should become a starter
Liverpool’s defence may not have been troubled as much as it could have been, but when he was called into action, Joel Matip shone. His strength and height made it tricky for Burton Albion’s attackers to penetrate Liverpool’s defence and he showed promising signs on his first competitive debut. His partnership with Lovren looked strong and what was really impressive was his work on the ball going forward.
With a chance early on from a corner it was evident that Matip can become a nuisance in the box both offensively and defensively. The height he adds to the team is phenomenal, and with players like Grujic also available Liverpool can finally solve their issues of having no height on the field.
Matip’s desire to go forward was impressive as he weaved his way through the pitch and often delivered smart balls to start an attack. I think this is exactly what Liverpool need from a defender, as Matip showed quality moving forward. He could teach Moreno a thing or two about positioning as well as getting back from forward play. Matip made confident runs up the pitch with the ball and then when possession changed he ran back and got himself into position. With Sakho out of favour, Matip has a chance to break into the first team ahead of Klavan and show Klopp what he can do.
A fit Sturridge makes all the difference
If last night’s game is any indication of what is to come from Sturridge this season, then it is safe to say Liverpool have a chance of getting into the top 4. Sturridge made an instant impact on the pitch and his link up play with Mane was exciting, a pairing of the two could be in the offing and if so Liverpool may impress this season. We all know what Sturridge can do, and at the Pirelli Stadium, Sturridge showed exactly how he can help the team by scoring the final 2 goals in the space of 5 minutes.
If Liverpool can keep him fit this season then he could add even more goals to the side, with the likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana playing week in week out.
Emre Can could be the defensive midfielder we need
During the win against Burton Albion, Emre Can was impressive and showed promise during the game, both winning balls and defending when necessary. Last season he ended up playing a vital role in the side, and if tonight’s game is anything to go by then it is safe to say he should be in the starting eleven consistently. He was replaced by Kevin Stewart in the 71st minute, after he looked to be in pain. If all goes well and it’s nothing serious he should definitely be in contention for Liverpool’s game against Tottenham.
Milner should replace Moreno as starting left-back
Last night Milner once again took the role as left-back and although he looked uncertain at times, he was impressive going forward and defensively. During the game Milner made piercing runs along the left flank and whipped in decent crosses throughout. He even weaved his way to the right side to assist Sturridge during the win. I think it is safe to say Milner does a much better job than Moreno at left-back and with a bit more defensive training maybe he can replace Moreno as Liverpool’s starting left-back.