We were all hungry to watch the boys play but expecting them to pick up where they left off was not realistic. Just like the initial games of Project Restart, this game was much slower and the rust showed in our passing. Player performances were inconsistent overall with only a few players standing out in terms of what they brought to the game. Expect to see a huge change to our overall play on Wednesday against Crystal Palace
Klopp used his subs a lot earlier than we are used to. While this was due to injury in some cases, taking Minamino and Keita off shows that Klopp wants to make sure the players are able to ease their way in to playing longer minutes. Both were performing well when they were taken off and we know how patient Jurgen is with the starting lineup despite the scoreline. The injuries to Milner and Matip show the risks of injuries with the additional time off for these players so can’t blame Klopp in taking it easy on some of the players especially with next game coming up in 3 days.
Offseason Needs Were Highlighted
Injury to Milner who is much better used as a midfielder showed once again why we need to get a true LB in the offseason to backup Robbo. Everyone wants a creative midfielder but while we have a lot of options at midfield, we had to use Gomez at LB. While he did not have a bad game, we were not able to use the spaces we created with quality crosses from the left side. While Minamino had a good showing and Ox did not perform poorly, it still shows the need the have a winger to be able to play for Mane or Salah. Minamino seems to be better served playing in Bobby’s role and Ox is more dangerous pushing up the middle than on the wings. Matip was perhaps one of our best players on the day but his injury also shows the need to get another CB in the offseason. While Matip and Lovren are capable players in that position (despite the online Lovren hate), their track record of injuries shows that they cannot be trusted to stay healthy for long period of time.
There were some poor performances from players like Fabinho and Trent. This is to be expected with the layoff and how each player will respond differently to having that long of a period off without competitive football. Fabinho is more concerning to me than Trent as his form has not been the same since coming back from injury and we miss his dominance as a defensive midfielder.
It was not all doom and gloom as some fans make it sound. I thought there were several solid performances out there and promising ones for the future. Keita and Minamino did well in the first half and I think their performance in the last part of the season will be key in quieting down the calls for a “creative midfielder”. Keita has the skillset and the work-rate to be the ideal attacking midfielder for this system. His durability and consistency will be the key factors in determining if he can fill that role. Henderson set a great example with his hard work and ball movement as always and Matip had a great game defensively as well as pushing the ball forward. He will be an unsung hero but Alisson showed once again why it is so important to have a top goalkeeper. He did not have much to do but a key save secured a point that brings the Reds even closer to the title.