Liverpool fell to a disappointing but unlucky defeat in Naples last night. The game was pretty even until the 80th minute when Napoli were awarded a controversial penalty. The Italians converted their spot kick at a time when the visitors looked more likely to score. Whilst the Reds didn’t deserve to lose the game at the Stadio San Paolo, they certainly didn’t deserve to win it. The Liverpool midfield weren’t overran but they were not productive with their possession. This is a key lesson Jürgen Klopp needs to learn from the defeat in Italy last night: never play that midfield again.
The Reds began the game with a midfield 3 of Fabinho, James Milner and Jordan Henderson. This is an incredibly negative choice by Klopp. Milner was no doubt played for his versatility and work rate, he offers a more ferocious and defensive midfield option than Georginio Wijnaldum. Liverpool’s Champions League winning captain started alongside Milly but neither brought anything their partner didn’t. With Fabinho at the base of the midfield providing an instinctive ability to break down attacks, to start with two conversavity midfielders ahead of him seems like too cautious of an approach.
The German gaffer was relying on his front 3 to fire in the scraps they were fed; at one point Henderson found Sadio Mane unmarked in the box but the Senegalese winger was unable to convert. Mane also failed to find Mo Salah when the pair outnumbered a solo Napoli defender.
When Naby Keita is fit, we can expect him to start ahead of Milner in these games. He offers a more dynamic attacking game than the two English midfielders that started for the Reds last night. Fingers crossed he is match ready sooner rather than later.