Mane has the finishing touch
Another week and another great finish from Mane to get Liverpool going. Against a compact defense that was sitting far back, Mane started to get more space as the first half went on. With his confidence soaring, he is letting those shots fly as soon as he can create the space and scoring some magnificent goals. The movement of the front three and the changing roles throughout the game makes them very difficult to play against. Newcastle tried to stay compact and prevent Trent and Robbo from getting their early crosses in but could not keep up with containing the pace and movement of our front three. Mane is a key part of that with his willingness to take players on. One of the main things that make Mane hard to defend is his unpredictable moves on the field and quick change of speed on the ball. He has always been great in creating from the left-wing but he is becoming very clinical with his finishing inside the box which makes him a joy to watch.
Ox gets the minutes but needs to show more
There are moments in the game where you got glimpses of the old Ox; quick burst with the ball, good hard shot from outside the box, and good movement. Unfortunately, these moments came along with several poor first touches and some horrific defending at times. Regardless of these errors, it is good to get Ox these valuable minutes as we all know the player he can be and these games are the necessary steps to get him there. As the schedule gets tougher with cup competitions as well as the Champions League, Liverpool will need Ox to be the driving force going forward. Not overly impressed with his performance but definitely happy to see the progress.
Shaq makes an appearance
Even if it was for less than 10 minutes of game time, Shaqiri was able to get on the field and get some touches. Much like Ox, Liverpool will need Shaqiri in the next few weeks in critical games. His lack of playing time had the media and the fans contemplating possible reasons behind his absence. Whether it was to pout for not getting the captain’s band or to stay behind to spend more time practicing with the Reds, Shaq decided to not play for his national team during the break. Perhaps these few minutes were merely a reward for his commitment but I really think it was more of a sign of how important these players will be with a tight and tough September schedule ahead of us.
Bobby is pure magic!
What a player! Even when you know where Firmino is going to pass the ball, you are never sure about how he is going to do it which makes him very tough to defend. Will it be a simple first touch or a fancy flick? A two touch back heel or a chip over the top? He is the perfect combination of the Brazilian flair with the tough physical play. His pressing with never-ending energy, vision on the field, classy touches that he makes look simple, and willingness to share the ball creates a player that is capable of getting MOTM every week. Just rewatch the second half focusing on what Bobby is doing and try not to drool as you see the fine touches he has on the ball, admiring his technique and vision. There are not enough superlatives to explain how lucky we are to have him on this team. Grab your favorite drink, sit back and marvel at his skill.
VAR…what is it good for?
As the game kicked off, NBC commentator mentioned Mike Dean as the VAR official and I knew instantly we were due to be screwed by VAR today. Matip was wrestled down as he was trying to head a ball coming off of a corner in the 26th minute. No call on the field but it seemed like it should be a matter of time for VAR to step in and award the penalty. Lascelles had his arm around Matip as he was also pulling him down and twisting him at the same time. VAR reviewed and said no penalty. Always wanted VAR to get going in the Premier League to eliminate the obvious mistakes and serve out punishments for diving etc. It has gotten off to a terrible start in the first five weeks and has caused more problems than solved them so far. After watching how NFL has gone down the dark path of expanding the referee reviews, I definitely do not want the same in soccer. NFL has become a game of watching referees watch games and trying to guess what they will come up with more than watching the game of football itself. I caught the end of a Thursday night game this week where 3 minutes of game time took about half an hour, 20 minutes of which was watching reviews and commercials. VAR should not be expanded but its role has to be defined a lot more clearly and used more efficiently. Sadly, I have a feeling this will not be the last time this comes up after a game. It has not hurt us yet in terms of the score at the end of the day so hope we can keep it that way.
And yeah… As hard as the media has tried to get it started and going, the Mane-Salah “feud” seems to be over so they will need some other story to come up with this week. I nominate Mike Dean and how he can suck as a ref even in front of a monitor!