Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat at Chelsea may have brought a cause for concern amongst supporters in the grand scheme but there were still some positives that should be analysed following another disappointing trip to the capital.
Takumi Minamino was someone who greatly benefited after being reinstated to the starting line-up for the first time since January having been deployed in Jurgen Klopp’s front-three alongside Sadio Mane and Divovk Origi.
The former RB Salzburg player showcased individual signs of brilliance with his trickery and use of the ball and was particularly dangerous in the opposition box.
There was an occasion when Antonio Rudiger twice engaged in a one-on-one battle and was lured into Minamino’s ploy allowing the Japan international to chop and change with the ball which left Rudiger utterly bemused.
It showcased a quality that initially attracted Klopp to the 25-year-old as Minamino’s low centre of gravity will cause lots of opponents to make fouls in the box as the playmaker has a natural talent of turning players inside out for fun.
It could even see Liverpool win more penalties in the future with the Reds currently lacking in terms of forcing defenders into errors in the opposition box.
Mane has been Liverpool’s biggest threat in that regard and has won two of the team’s five penalties this season – Manchester United have won twice the amount of spot-kicks this season (10).
Of course, this is something that will take time to bed in and develop for next season. This has led to parralels made with his Liverpool teammates as Minamino is clearly a player that Klopp has set one eye for a year-or-two down the line.
Similarly to Andy Robertson and Fabinho, Minamino has had to patient since Liverpool secured his services for a pittance following a number of glowing auditions when the Reds’ lined-up against Austrian champions Salzburg in the Champions League group stages earlier this season.
Entering into his third month as a Liverpool player Minamino has only started three matches – all in the FA Cup – under Klopp following his £7.25m [BBC Sport] from Salzburg in January.
Once again playing in the No.9 role, Minamino was sharp in the opening stages at Stamford Bridge and was particularly menacing for Rudiger prior to the opening goal.
He also demonstrated his peripheral vision after spotting the run of fellow former Salzburg prodigy Mane and produced a superb pass to pick out the Senegalese ace.
Minamino’s link-up play with Mane showcased he has developed a greater understanding with his teammates in the short period he has been on Merseyside.
Liverpool supporters will certainly have to be patient with the Japanese talent who will be up to speed by the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
During another trip to the capital that saw Liverpool’s aura of invincibility falter once again in the meekest manner, Minamino’s performance was a rare slither of light in an otherwise dark evening for Klopp and the team.