Paul Spillane takes a look at Liverpool’s performance against Middlesbrough in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.
I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous going into Wednesday night’s game.
We have looked rather sluggish in our last two fixtures and that has cost us gaining valuable points. A midweek trip to the Riverside Stadium was, therefore, a chance to get back on track and put some much-needed pressure on leaders Chelsea.
Klopp made his intentions clear before kick-off that Mignolet would come in to replace Karius. We all know how the young German has performed (or hasn’t) since arriving in the summer, but the decision was made to take him out of the side. Personally, I have been impressed with Mignolet’s attitude on and off the pitch this season, so I felt more at ease seeing him line up in goal for us once more.
And it just seemed like another game for Mignolet, who was calm and assured, dealing with minimal Boro attack with ease. He made one very good save midway through the first half but was largely the spectator throughout the match. It begs the question, therefore, that this game could have been ideal for Karius to play in. Playing against the team with the lowest amount of goals scored in the league, this was possibly more than any other game a chance for Karius to build up some self-belief and grab a clean sheet along the way. It was not to be, but I believe it won’t be too long until the German shot-stopper is recalled to the starting XI.
The news that Matip was out injured was greeted with another wave of worry, however, I believe our defence performed very admirably without him. Klavan showed some very nice touches and despite giving the odd foul away in the opening stages, was very reliable in keeping the Boro forward line at bay. Lovren was much improved from his last couple of outings, and the pair together showed signs of a good partnership if called upon again.
In terms of the game itself, it did take us a little bit of time to find our feet, largely down to it being very difficult to break down a very organised Boro backline. The hosts showed very little attacking intent so I just knew if we could score one past them, there would be no way back. It’s becoming a feature of most of our games now, as teams are fully aware of the attacking prowess in front of goal, they naturally sit back and invite pressure. It is another good sign then that we could break Boro down with relative ease.
Gini looked calm as ever on the ball, Henderson was his usual efficient and determined self, winning the ball back when possible and presiding over the midfield. Lallana put in a scintillating display full of fluid attacking movement earning him two goals, an assist, and a deserved Man of the Match.
We may still be missing our Brazilian magician, nevertheless, thanks to our brilliant Belgian, our forward line is proving very capable in his absence. Right now, Origi is ticking all the right boxes for me. His goal was well taken, slotting past Valdes after some more outstanding attacking play. Five goals in his last five games for the club is a great stat, and maybe it’s a bit far-fetched to be dreaming of breaking Vardy’s incredible record last season but here’s hoping he keeps up his goal-scoring form going into the busy festive period.
With the Merseyside Derby up next, last night’s game was the perfect preparation for the big one on Monday night. Three points, three goals, a welcome clean sheet, and a huge lift for the fans after a sodden time of it of late. The Derby won’t be easy, with Everton surprising Arsenal on Tuesday night, however, if we produce another composed performance like we have done against Boro, then we are more than capable of making it another win for the red half of Merseyside.