Preview GW 37
Liverpool stormed to a 5-0 victory against the leagues worst team last weekend briefly bringing us back to the top of the Premier League. Unfortunately, we could not find the formula to continue the streak in mid-week at Barcelona. It was a rough one for supporters as we dominated the majority of the game but walked out with nothing to show for our efforts. It will be a tough battle to bring the tie back into focus and advance to the next round. Having said that, Anfield can be a magical place on the night. A mid-week match under the flood lights can bring out the most spectacular efforts from Klopp’s men. In the meantime though it’s back to business in the league as Liverpool travels away to Newcastle.
Tackled properly, the Reds can dispatch the game in much of the same fashion as last week. A Liverpool win puts the pressure back on Man City as we once again play before them. Newcastle sit comfortably safe at 13th and don’t have Europe to play for so the focus might already be on lavish holidays. Raffa, the Spanish Scouse, may just turn the amplifier down to 3 or 4 for us as well. Mind you, the man is competitive, so if we’re not at our top, he could bite us.
Bizarre Consequence or Destiny?
Liverpool faithful can draw further optimism comes from this weekend already having proven a pivotal title race shake up. It just so happens that the last time Liverpool played Newcastle (back on boxing day) Man City played Leicester City whom they play this weekend. Liverpool went on to smash the Toon Army 4-0 while City slipped for the second week in a row to the Foxes. This gave Liverpool the lead in the title race. If the same happens this weekend it may be too late for Man City to correct the mistake.
I ALWAYS liked Rodgers you know. For a complete game preview see Hooch’s article here.
One of a Kind Firmino
Taking an echoing statement from Timucin in our podcasts that’s growing louder by the week, is our first point. *Warning: Shameless plug* Did I mention we’re now available on just about every podcast app imaginable?
OK, I know I’m not saying anything new to Scouse supporters, we love the man. Sadly, this could be a huge problem for us if not addressed in the transfer window. We don’t have anyone like him in our current roster and it shows it’s ugly head whenever he’s off the field. Our threat on the attack and winning the ball up high drops significantly and disrupts our entire game plan. We’ve run the gauntlet on options as well this season, even employing Gini against Barcelona mid-week. Klopp clearly demonstrated his own uncertainty with the chosen line up at Camp Nou and he may be well ahead of us in terms of a replacement search.
Supporters across social media platforms seem to agree with Timucin on this one. Countless fan comments and messages also noticed the hole Liverpool have without our number 9 in the line up. This issue is one that can’t be corrected this season and we will have to find another way to plug the hole in our remaining 3 (or 4) matches.
Haven’t Heard the Fat Lady Yet
Conceding three goals to Barcelona in Spain is hard enough to swallow, but the way we lost made it a horse pill. Reds were all in agreement that we looked the better team for much of the game despite not being at our best. We led all the important stats except for the most crucial one, our finishing. The Catalan Giants were clinical, we were, well, poor. The evening was summed up by the sound of the post reverberating from an open goal miss at the feet of our most trusted goal scorer. Unlucky, or outclassed is still being heavily debated among Scousers but one thing is certain: We’re not dead yet.
There’s a Golden Sky
Anfield under the lights on a Tuesday can be the most magical place to be for a supporter. Big European nights are our specialty and the atmosphere has been known to jostle even the best teams before the first whistle. Fans will remember Man City and Roman fondly in last year’s competition. Next week is different though, we are behind, by a considerable margin, without an away goal, against a very good team. One slip up and it will be curtains for the Reds.
However, supporters should look at the challenge positively. The chance to prove to the world we belong here, even if we go down, let’s go down swinging. Critics said we skated into the final last year, but making it this year would silence a whole load of them. If there’s one thing Scousers love, it’s being an underdog and pissing in the face of adversity… erm that’s two. Two things Scousers love.
Season Over for Keita
Naby was pulled off on the 24th minute mark and his absence was devastating to the game’s flow. The knock isn’t serious but it will put him out for longer than the season will be going. Some supporters are worried that this derails our chances in the league and in the home leg of the Champions League.
The tenacity Keita brought to the midfield and his attacking link up play was unplayable at times. He drove the ball into dangerous areas and added yet another threat for defenses to worry about. Fans of this notion claim, unless The Ox is magically 100%, we will struggle to fully replace Keita’s influence.
Reds on the opposing side are arguing that Henderson’s recent attacking role is cover enough for the Guinean. Furthermore, they believe that the amount of games we have remaining isn’t enough to consider it a huge blow.
How it Affected the Flow
Henderson in full form can fit the bill for the time being, provided he remains consistent. He’s much better with Naby next to him and someone ultra defensive behind him but for 3 or 4 games I think we could manage. Unfair stick for Henderson may come due to his introduction at the Camp Nou disrupting the attacking flow. I believe that was due to a lack of warm up and the intense speed the game was already going at. Keita’s inclusion sings confidence but the option is gone and we will have to make it work without him.
Gomez over Trent
The biggest debate this week between fans is regarding the line up chosen by Klopp. Questions on selections are being hashed out on message boards affiliated with the club. Many were left scratching their heads seeing a 4-3-3 with Wijnaldum leading the line, no Henderson, and Trent replaced for Gomez.
The Gaffer’s decision to drop an in-form Henderson, could be a huge window into Klopp’s plans for the future. It could also have been a tactic to feel the game out before unleashing his stamina on a Barcelona team worn down by our attack. Regardless, it was shot to bits on 24 minutes when Naby picked up an injury. Henderson came on without a proper warm-up and thrown into a speedy game. It didn’t go well. The Wijnaldum replacement for an injured Firmino was probably a gamble on Klopp’s part. Having tried a few other options in replacing the indispensable Bob, we threw Gini in the mixer and hit blend. Of course this is all redundant as I’ve discussed both of these in the above sections.
The selection we haven’t touched on is Gomez for Trent at right-back. Supporters are really torn on this one and explanations range from a swinging back three to a fitness issue from Alexander-Arnold. A swinging back three makes the most sense to me given our opponents. The emphasis being to choke the middle of the defending third for Messi, Suarez, and Coutinho to trip over one another. This also allows at least one of our defensive flanks to deliver runs and crosses in an attacking sense without relinquishing our shape too much.
The change threw Barcelona off, as it is a line-up we’ve never employed before. At the end of the day, had we walked away with points, we would have been cheering the genius of Klopp’s tactics. We easily could have as well for at 75 minutes it was only 1-0 and Liverpool were relentlessly charging forward. As it were, giving up too late goals away has exposed the decisions to scrutiny.
We discuss this in-depth on our latest podcast episode! You should give it a listen and give us a like. In the meantime, tell us what you think. Give us a like and a follow, it would help us out immensely.