Liverpool were back in action away to Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon and despite the quality gap between the two sides, it was just a solitary Mo Salah goal that separated them.
Premier League action is back!
Unfortunately for us, Liverpool were one of the less entertaining games that rounded up a fantastic Saturday of football. On the flip side though, where previously that probably would’ve meant our boys dropping points, Klopp’s men remain undefeated and joint top of the table after their latest victory.
There were a number of talking points to take from the game, especially with Klopp’s decision to ring in a mass of changes, so without further ado, let’s do this.
It’s no secret that other than on the odd occasion, Liverpool’s forward line has failed to really inspire in the manner they did week in, week out last season.
It was, in truth, a much-changed front three this time around, with Mohamed Salah joined in attack by Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana while Xherdan Shaqiri provided support from what looked a ‘free’ role in the midfield.
Despite the huge change in personnel though, the result was frustratingly the same.
One goal, a number of half chances wasted and an almost alarming lack of cohesion among the attackers with misplaced and under-hit passes, in particular, contributing heavily to a dysfunctional performance up front from Jürgen’s mighty Reds.
Now, given the lack of playing time for Lallana and Shaqiri, in particular, this season, there was always a chance this would be the case but the fact that Liverpool only managed a single shot on target against a Huddersfield side that had conceded 17 goals in their previous eight games was still a frustration.
The Reds have games against Red Star Belgrade, Cardiff and Fulham in the coming weeks and Klopp will be hoping that his side can rediscover their goalscoring form… and quick.
Salah breaks the duck
He still wasn’t back to his incredible best but the fact that Mohamed Salah still managed to wriggle away from his man, slip through on goal and provide a first time finish superbly with his weaker foot was an encouraging sign for Liverpool.
The last four games had represented the Egyptian’s longest spell without a goal since joining the club in 2017 and as a result, there had been plenty of talk about what was ailing the former Roma forward.
It was, however, around this time last season when things really started heating up for Salah.
The Egyptian by this time last season had five goals compared to four this time around and it wasn’t until his brace away to West Ham on November 4th last campaign that he really sparked into life.
There were moments of frustration on Saturday afternoon – passes going astray, moments of hesitation where last season everything looked so instinctive and of course, another missed chance that again, last season probably finds the back of the net – but with favourable fixtures on the horizon, everyone will be hoping that this goal serves as a catalyst for Salah to experience a stunning return to form.
Fabinho is alive and well!
We’ve not been blessed with many sightings of our £43m Brazilian defensive midfielder since he joined the club in the summer from Monaco but it looks as if Fabinho is finally getting on the right side of the manager’s expectations.
He was only afforded a 20-minute cameo against a side languishing in the relegation zone sure but any Premier League minutes are better than no Premier League minutes.
As expected, the Brazilian slotted into the ‘6’ position after his introduction, looking fresh and eager to contribute from the get-go.
If finally deemed ready and on the way to fully adapting to Klopp’s high pressing system, Fabinho certainly would offer Liverpool not only a classy rotation option but a whole new dimension in the holding midfield role.
Better defensively than both Wijnaldum and Henderson, the Reds no.3 also possesses an impressive passing range, a stellar record from the penalty spot and perhaps most importantly, also adds some extra height to what can be a fairly small Liverpool side depending on selection choices.
The former Monaco man was smooth in his use of the ball and made a couple of solid challenges to thwart potentially dangerous late Huddersfield attacks and will hope he’s given Klopp a cause for consideration – especially given Henderson had to be subbed at half-time for what was described as a tight hamstring, while Naby Keïta is likely to be missing for at least the next fixture or two.
Another clean sheet but Gomez MUST partner VVD
Despite Huddersfield and Dejan Lovren’s best efforts, Liverpool kept yet another clean sheet – their sixth of the league campaign so far but their first on the road since visiting Crystal Palace in August.
Joe Gomez was once again incredible – this time from a right back berth rather than the right-sided centre back spot we’ve seen him regularly make his own this season – while Alisson also generally impressed with his quick distribution and decision making.
It was however, another example of an afternoon that shows why Klopp should be persisting with Gomez as the right-sided centre half and ignoring the urge to select Dejan Lovren.
The Croatian is a decent defender on his day and we saw it during the second half of last season and the World Cup but he’s always got a mistake in him and seems to make those around him slightly more jittery.
The Reds were lucky that on this occasion neither of his two major lapses in concentration cost them any points and given how good Gomez has been when paired with Virgil in the centre of the park, I’d be surprised not to see that duo restored in coming fixtures.
Fabinho’s late introduction also seemed to help shore things up at the back to a degree, proving that a genuinely defensive minded holding midfielder can be a real bonus to any team – who’d have thought it hey?
Rivals drop points as Reds stay Top of the Pile
Perhaps the best sight of the weekend for a Liverpool fan – aside from Salah scoring – was seeing Ross Barkley net a late equaliser for Chelsea against Manchester United, meaning that both sides dropped points at Stamford Bridge.
It looks like a season where the big guns are all going to be too strong for lesser sides on the majority of occasions, meaning the title – even the top four spots – could well come down to how many points are dropped in meetings between the top six.
Manchester United admittedly look one team talk from Mourinho away from a meltdown but have somehow continued to scrape out some good results of late, Spurs and Chelsea both look strong and Arsenal seem to be finding their feet.
Then, of course, there’s the juggernaut that is Guardiola’s Manchester City side who are still yet to see the return of Kevin de Bruyne yet still just seem to get better and better.
For the Reds, it doesn’t matter whether they win 1-0 or 5-4, they just need to ensure that they continue to pick up three points in every match that they are expected to.
While it would be nice to see our boys banging goals in left, right and centre like the second half of last season, I’m happy to forgo some of the fireworks if it means we continue to pick up maximum points and our defence continues to stand tall.
For now, we’re tied top with Guardiola’s men and with our rivals all scheduled to start facing off with far more frequency – Tottenham host Man City next weekend, while the Manchester derby also lingers on the horizon – for now, all we need to do is just keep plugging away and picking up maximum points at every opportunity.
Starting next week at Anfield when Cardiff come to town.
C’mon you Redmen!