This was a poor result, not really, maybe, definitely, yes, but not really, kind of
Liverpool could have extended the lead to 7 points and therefore making it a three-game gap between themselves and Manchester City. An overall average performance resulted in a draw and on a week where the Reds could not get the three points, they still managed to extend their lead to five points. In many ways, this weeks’ fixtures were expected to be a win for both Liverpool and Manchester City. Liverpool was at home to a struggling Leicester side and City was going away to Newcastle who is battling relegation. I know all the talk is about how great the league is where any team can beat another but I think it is more than that. It is the beauty of the sport in general where upsets can happen. Liverpool definitely blew an opportunity to extend the lead which would further affect City’s resolve and perhaps reevaluate their priorities especially once Champions League is back. At the end of the day, we can still look at the silver lining and say that even on a week we lost points, we extended the lead.
Keita’s struggles to cement his position in the starting lineup and time is running out
This was another great opportunity for Keita to show his quality and showcase his talents by breaking down an organized Leicester defense off the dribble or through clinical passing. Neither seemed to happen and except a few moves one of which should have resulted in a penalty kick which was never given. Fans, especially the YouTube fans, want Keita to succeed so bad that they are willing to give him more time and patience while having no issue criticizing other players like Henderson and Wijnaldum. This was yet another subpar performance by Naby and perhaps all he needs is some confidence… one pass reaching the target, one dribble completed resulting in a score might be enough to boost him to the player we were hoping he would become. He will continue to get these opportunities I think but if Ox is back in a few weeks and can achieve his work rate and form from last year, the attacking midfielder spot is wide open for Ox to take over. Naby has been lucky that players like Llana and Sturridge have not made great impressions when coming off the bench while Shaqiri’s form is on the decline over the last month but as players get healthy, starting lineup might become unavailable to Keita.
Reds suffer from questionable calls – but have to focus on their play first
Ironic that this was the same talking point last week. There were several questionable calls throughout the game, most important one being Naby Keita being brought down. English football pundits love the term ‘not enough contact for me’. What the heck does that even mean? If someone is affecting your shot by stepping on your foot, tapping your heels, nudging you in any way that is not “legal”, it is a foul and if in the box, it should be a penalty. You do not have to hurt someone to get penalized… it does not even have to be intentional for it to be penalized. I have played the game since I started walking and still not have perfected the art of taking a shot while my planted foot is being stepped on or hit. Apparently, neither has Keita.
I know there was a point where we were not getting any penalty calls go our way especially at home. This recently changed and including some questionable ones, the Reds started to get and score from penalty kicks. Perhaps this in a way has affected the team in a negative way where we are relying on or ‘working on’ earning penalty kicks at times and hoping for a call to go our way. I know I just talked about the Naby call that could have changed the game entirely but Liverpool did not do enough
It is winter
I know as a technical team with better quality, the pitch affects us more than our opponents but it just cannot be an excuse for sloppy play. It is winter and we will get bad weather conditions and poor quality pitches in the next few weeks. While my lack of sympathy could be due to battling -52 degree weather in Chicago, I do not feel like it is a legitimate excuse for our poor play and passing. Key is adjusting to that field and having the plan B knowing which weapons will be more effective given the circumstances. The large criticism I read online was how the team trained in warm weather and came back to play in the snow etc. I personally do not feel like it was the change in temperature that affected the team but the lack of ability to adjust our game style in these conditions. We will need to find ways to impose our play even on a less than perfect pitch. While it did make passing and ball movement harder than normal, it affected the pace we play in especially when the ball moved from side to side. Our midfield was not able to move the ball fast but I think if we were able to have Henderson and Fabinho in the midfield instead, we would be able to change field of play faster and open up some holes in the Leicester defense. Trent coming back will be a huge boost not only to bring back the solid defensive line but push our midfielders to their original positions.
Fans need to calm down
Anfield was tense the entire second half yesterday to the point of not being able to apply the pressure needed to help the team on the field. There will be games where the crowd has to amp up the team and not the other way around but Reds fans were too nervous to do much of it yesterday. If it was not for questionable calls by the ref to get them going, the place felt tense and brittle. I understand the average fan’s frustration when the ball is moving sideways when we need a score but it is part of the build-up and has always been. We just do not have the personnel to keep lobbing the ball in the box and hope our short front three take the ball from their much taller CBs. Fans need to be patient and help the team on the field. Their anxiety only transfers on to the team on the field causing the players to be impatient when they should be patient etc. Affects the entire decision-making process on the field whereas an excited stadium puts pressure on the opponent making them feel that their demise is imminent. This team needs Anfield and feel like they did not get it yesterday from the stands