One down, six to go…
A perfect start of 4 wins out of the possible 4 games made the international break look like it came at the worst possible time. The Tottenham game, a first of 7 tough fixtures within 3 weeks, had great importance in showing Liverpool’s intent and ability to challenge for the title. The win and the three points definitely showed intent while still leaving some concerns when it comes to play on the field.
In some ways, this period might show everyone that this is a different Liverpool team than last year. Having proven that they can win the tough and close games in the Premier League, it is now time to show that we can continue from where we left off when it comes to playing the top teams. A combination of those aspects will bring us what we have been waiting for… a Premier League title run along with a successful Champions League campaign. The improved overall strength of the roster along with its depth will be taken to task in the next three weeks as we play our tougher games in the Champions League as well as in the Premier League.
Liverpool got Tottenham at a great time with the Spurs missing Alli and Lloris, two key players. The absence of Lloris especially paid off with Vorm definitely not covering himself with glory in both Liverpool goals. I can’t be the only one sick of hearing about how tired Tottenham is from the World Cup, especially with all players coming back from an international break where Liverpool players racked up the most miles of travel. I do not recall reading about how tired the Spurs were when they dominated Manchester United, so I’m not buying the excuse now just because they are not performing well.
There has been a lot of talk about the addition of Alisson and the Liverpool defensive line’s great performance this year. But I think the credit of our perfect start lies in the midfield and the hard work put in by the three in the middle, especially through Milner and Wijnaldum. The amount of running and hard work they put in makes it easier for the defense, and I believe their assists and goals are what has carried us thus far. Especially with the front three performing way below expectations.
Gini and Milner have been excellent and I think they are the most important players contributing to our success so far. It will be interesting to see the lineup that will face PSG in Champions League.
- No one expected Salah to keep going from where he left off even after the West Ham game. I did not expect this much of a drop off though. He lost the ball too many times against Spurs, especially in the first half of the game. He looked more lively in the second half but seemed like he was trying too hard to get himself out of the funk, causing him to ignore some simple passes which could have resulted in easy goals
- Speaking of not passing enough: Mane. Every forward is selfish when it comes to their play, it is part of their nature and thinking, like a WR in football or a pure shooter in basketball. They think they can make every shot, catch every ball. Mane brings a lot to the table and his impact and importance to this team can’t be denied. What also cannot be denied is that he has cost us several goals at times with his selfish play. I think it is part of his game and DNA… it will definitely win us some games, we can only hope that it does not cost us games in the future
- Strong defensive play overall again. Gomez showed that he is human and young but still was effective overall and VVD was back to his regular play. Robertson continues to impress and surprise
- This has to be the most disappointing performance of Sturridge so far this season. After a promising preseason and some average cameo appearances, he had a chance to come in and show that he can be that solid Firmino replacement when needed. Even though he had a few good moments by keeping possession and getting the fouls but his defensive liability outshined everything else. Not only his play during the goal we conceded but his lack of pressure up front as he jogged from point a to point b was just sad to watch. If Sturridge does not have enough energy to sprint to pressure and actually help defensively for 15-20 minutes, not sure if we can ever start him in that role and expect to perform well. Just disappointed in a player that has so much potential but just does not seem to get what is needed on this team. Watching Milner pressure full speed at the end of the game while Sturridge goes half that speed and running while providing no pressure was just aggravating
- Gini and Milner dominated the midfield. If the season ended today, Milner could be the player of the year. To me, he shows that if you work hard, you do not have to be physically and technically gifted to play at the top level. Milner is a very skillful player but he is not big, fast, full of fancy moves… he is a football player who plays hard with great field vision and gives you everything he can. A great player to watch for any youngster who feels like they were shortchanged in the gene department
Up next is the Champions League, a new adventure begins with group favorites by most, PSG. This is when the power of Anfield has to come into play and let’s hope we can have flashbacks of last year’s magical Champions League games. More importantly, I hope we can get the front three finally bring their A game and cohesion to play. It is overdue and no better time to showcase it.