“ Finishing this post with the optimism that the attack will catch up with the defensive performance thus far, and leave the pessimistic view for another post… perhaps a post we will not need after Red Star and Cardiff games.’
This is how I finished my last post. Looks like the pessimistic view can be put on hold for the time being. Liverpool started to find its groove on offense. First it was against a Red Star team which would not give up their extremely defensive approach even after conceding 2 goals. Then against a Cardiff team which was more disciplined than the Red Stars. Liverpool had a much harder time opening up the Cardiff defense despite the dominance in possession but was able to pile on the goals especially once Cardiff got hope of stealing a point at Anfield which made them stray away from their defensive shape. This gave the Reds much needed space and along with the introduction of Shaqiri, Liverpool was able to cash in on the available space by using their speed and quality.
What can we take away from the last week as Reds fans?
- The front three are starting to find their form. Even though the possession did not result in created chances in the first half, the finishing quality coming back to Salah and Mane is key to this team’s success in the long term. Firmino was not effective in the final third, but his movement created much needed space as always for the rest of the team.
- Fabinho got his first Premier League start. He is definitely a good player and perhaps the best defensive midfielder option against teams such as Cardiff who will come to Anfield to sit back and absorb the pressure, playing for a draw. His lack of speed would be concerning against some of the other teams for the time being though and I would expect Henderson or Milner to be back in that role against Arsenal next weekend
- Rotation in defense at CB and RB has worked fine giving TAA and Gomez but looks like we will never be able to give VVD and Robertson the same rest. The goal came from the space left behind Moreno and was not costly this time but with Moreno at LB, it feels like disaster is around the corner at all times
- Good to see Llana fit enough to start a game but he is definitely way off his regular pace. Even though he was not effective, getting him game time will be priceless as I think he will be a key piece in providing rest for Mane and Salah in later stages of the season.
- The ideal midfield three is still the most debated topic. . Shaqiri definitely brought an extra level of pace and creativity but it is clear that his defensive work rate is a concern for Klopp. It does seem like Naby or Shaqiri have to be in the starting 11 though when we go against teams looking to defend all game. Their movement and agility creates space and their quality definitely adds to the scoreline.
We now can sit and enjoy the battle between the Spurs and City. On paper, a draw is the ideal result as it causes both rivals to lose points. I am definitely rooting for Tottenham to win this game as I can see Tottenham lose more points along the way as they have done so in the past whereas Manchester City can seem invincible at times. Hoping for an enjoyable game with a Spurs win and a taxing game for both teams… YNWA!