Scott Groom discusses five talking points from Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday evening.
The Carabao Cup will not be held aloft by Jordan Henderson at Wembley later on this season after Liverpool fell to a 1-2 home defeat to Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea on Wednesday evening thanks to a wonder-goal from Eden Hazard.
It had to come at some point, I suppose, and it was probably better for Liverpool’s first defeat of the season to arrive in a cup competition than in the Premier League as their 100 per cent record there remains intact.
While the first defeat of the new season smarts quite a lot, Reds fans should still be upbeat, as there were many positives to take away from the game, and Liverpool have the rare opportunity to immediately put the result right when the sides meet again at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
As I mentioned, there are many positive takeaways from the match, but also a few things Klopp needs to think about too, and here’s what I think they are.
Liverpool need to close out games while they’re on top
It’s perhaps one of the oldest clichés in football: take your chances while you’re on top otherwise all of those misses will come back to bite you on the ass.
That’s arguably what happened to Liverpool last night, as they once more enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, territory and chances but failed to find the back of the net more than once.
With the score only at 1-0, no matter how dominant Liverpool were, it only takes one moment of poor concentration, a poor refereeing decision, a moment of individual brilliance or a huge slice of luck for Chelsea and they were back in the game.
This point was really hammered home by the Londoners last night, as they clung on at 1-0 down only to then benefit from two of the above-mentioned outcomes: a poor refereeing decision and a moment of sheer world-class individual play from Eden Hazard.
While you could perhaps say that with only Sadio Mané of Liverpool’s well-recognised front three on the pitch for most of the game, that Liverpool’s threat level was reduced. But they still had a plethora of chances and more than enough goalscorers out there on the pitch to have the game sealed up long before Chelsea wriggled their way back into things.
They need to be more clinical as this could well happen again at some stage, and we don’t want more cup heartaches or late disappointments in the Premier League this season, thank you very much.
Alberto Moreno fails to grab another opportunity
The Spanish left-back was given a game in place of the ever-reliable Andrew Robertson last night, and it’s fair to say that he didn’t really take it and give Jürgen Klopp much of a selection headache for the position.
Moreno always gives his all and works hard which you cannot fault him for, but his general play is just not good enough in comparison to Robertson.
Many times he was left for dead down Liverpool’s left, and Chelsea got in time and time again down his side due to his poor defending and positioning. Still, after everything he’s been through and the number of times we think he’s changed his game for the better, he puts in performances like last night which fail to convince.
I still just can’t watch him and not think that he’s a penalty waiting to happen either. I think Klopp will be certain to offload him next summer at the latest, with a new addition being purchased to provide some better competition for Robbo for next season.
Xherdan Shaqiri is pushing for a starting role
On the contrary to Moreno, one man who has grabbed every small chance he’s had so far in his short Liverpool career is Xherdan Shaqiri, who once again caught the eye with an impressive display last night.
The more game time he gets, the more of an absolute steal he looks at just £13 million, as he’s showing that he is a very gifted player who is more than worth his place in this Liverpool squad.
He once again made himself very busy and was involved in lots of tidy play, showed some very deft, technical touches and linked play well for Liverpool.
Every time he’s pulled on the red shirt, he’s looked hungry, determined and in the groove – and that’s something that Klopp and his fellow teammates will be noticing, too.
This will help them to keep striving to be better to retain their starting place, which is only ever a good thing and will greatly please Klopp who will now know that he can call upon Shaqiri when he needs something from the bench, or if he wants to rotate the squad for whatever reason.
The more he plays, the more doubters the Swiss ‘power cube’ is turning into believers himself.
A fit Daniel Sturridge is a lethal weapon
I may as well get this engraved on my headstone when I die because I think I’ll be saying it until the end of my days: when Daniel Sturridge is fit and ready, he will score goals. No questions asked.
His last two Liverpool appearances have proved that, and they’ve also proved that he could’ve had more than just two goals in the same amount of matches had he been that little bit more clinical.
Let’s ignore his (if we’re being brutally honest) woeful miss after rounding Cabellero last night and focus on the goal he did score, which took instinct, skill and poise to pull off. He could’ve panicked and lashed at the chance, but he adjusted well and pulled off a remarkable acrobatic finish to fire his side into the lead.
His resulting celebration which saw him embrace The Kop with open arms and pat the Liverbird on his chest showed you that he’s in his happy place and feels like he’s physically able to perform at his best again, which is another good thing to see.
Not only is he capable of these ‘poacher-style’ goals like last night, but he also rattled the crossbar and was inches away from scoring a sublime 20-yarder which would’ve sent everyone inside Anfield ballistic. The point I’m making here is that he is capable of scoring every type of goal.
His performance, like Shaqiri’s of late, will seriously be giving Klopp something to think about in terms of selection, as he now has Sturridge and Shaqiri who are chomping at the bit and in good form waiting for their chance on the bench. How good does that feel to say rather than seeing David N’Gog sitting there?
Fabinho makes a good start, but will take time to settle
A bit bitter-sweet I guess is my final point.
Last night, we finally got to see Fabinho make his full Liverpool debut since his £39 million move from AS Monaco in the summer – and it’s fair to say that the lad did well. He got stuck in, used the ball well and provided a good shield for a totally changed back five, which is exactly the job Klopp brought him for.
Let’s not also forget that he was the one that started the move that led to Sturridge’s goal as he stole the ball back off Chelsea and sprang the Liverpool attack. All of that considered, it was a good first start for Mr. Tavares, but you could also tell at times that it was his first start under Klopp.
There were times when he looked a little lost, like he was only about 95 per cent sure of his role and position and this is to be expected. He’s come from the French league which is a totally different pace of football playing in a team that plays differently to Klopp’s Liverpool. So naturally, it’s going to take time for him to adjust.
What is good is that it wasn’t a horrendous performance by any stretch of the imagination, and he grew into the game, showing much promise going forward. Don’t forget that he’s only 24-years-old so still has a lot to learn and will be at Liverpool for some time and is a player Klopp clearly sees as having a crucial role in his midfield for years to come.