Sanjay Nair reviews Liverpool’s start to the 2018/19 season, with the Reds sitting pretty in the Premier League, joint top of the table with Manchester City.
With almost a quarter of the season done with, it is indeed an exciting time for Liverpool fans around the world as their team sits joint-top of the Premier League, on points, alongside Champions and favourites Manchester City.
Unbeaten and with 23 points garnered out of a possible 27, it may seem as if Liverpool have set the league on fire. However, it has not always been pretty viewing and we look at the positives as well as a major downfall in Liverpool’s performances in the league so far.
The winning habit
Some habits, once you get used to them, are hard to shake off and fortunately for the likes of all of us, our club has got into the habit of winning, no matter how. Whilst this is always a good thing, one cannot help but wonder how long we can continue to win in the same manner, gritty yet just about effective to get the all-important 3 points.
The latest edition of this run in the weekend’s away fixture at Huddersfield Town was another example of how this Liverpool side has infused a winning mentality to their exciting brand of football.
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This is largely thanks to the addition of ‘tough to break down’ mould of players such as Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Alisson Becker who have also helped bring out the steely side of the extremely talented younger lot like Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander Arnold.
Test of bench strength
A host of issues, thanks to the two international breaks, including injuries and fatigue have forced Jürgen Klopp into making extensive use of his bench strength early in the season itself.
Alexander Arnold has been ‘rested’ on more than one occasion, more perhaps to give Dejan Lovren substantial match time than anything to do with the young right-back’s performances as such.
Adam Lallana too made a start after ages while there have been regular appearances off the bench for Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge.
The Englishman, in particular, has already been a key player this season and has been in tremendous form. With Fabinho too making his Premier League debut at the weekend, the Liverpool bench finally looks in good shape with options aplenty and full of quality.
Lack of creativity
With Naby Keïta and Sadio Mané unavailable through injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still recuperating on the sidelines on the long road to recovery, creativity at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield is not at a premium and this has added to the pressure on Mo Salah and his strike partners on the day.
Liverpool are left to seek that one magical moment to win or salvage games, most exemplified by Salah’s strikes against Brighton and the Terriers as well as Sturridge’s wonder-goal against Chelsea.
While the triumvirate of Hendo-Gini-Milner is hardworking, they are not the kind that will deliver defence-splitting passes at will. Lallana perhaps could be the one to provide the creative output, but he is some way off from full fitness and is also not an automatic choice to start games.
Shaqiri too is of a similar situation where he is a good backup option but only in the interim. The sooner Keïta returns to the line-up and adapts to the style of the Premier League, the more dangerous Liverpool will prove to be.
All said and done, a dream start to the season and we hope to see our team carry on the good work well into the next run of fixtures and beyond.