Can Liverpool recover this season?
It is impossible to overstate the significance of Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City yesterday. A quick look at the English Premier League table shows that, at 13 points for the season, the Reds are still 10 points behind Manchester City and 14 behind table-toppers, Arsenal. However, the belief a win like this could bring could prove to be instrumental for the underwhelming giants in the long run.
Last Wednesday’s 7-1 win away at Rangers was a timely shot in the arm as Mohamed Salah got back among the goals with a hattrick and Nunez got a much-needed goal. Sunday’s win, however, will have been exactly what Klopp wanted. Claim the scalp of the best team in the country? .✅Dig deep to win while keeping a clean sheet? ✅. Get the Anfield crowd believing in the team again? ✅✅✅
Read on for our thoughts from the game below!
Salah belongs in the center, not out wide on the wing
This season, Jurgen Klopp has come in for severe criticism for several reasons. His reliance on players viewed as ‘past it’, the reasons he has given for his side’s inability to keep up with Manchester City and his steadfast defense of Trent Alexander-Arnold. But the loudest noise has come from fans and pundits puzzled at his deployment of Mohamed Salah this season.
Salah scored a staggering 118 league goals in 180 games before this season as a wide forward with license to come inside whenever he wanted. Naturally, the sight of the Egyptian forward stuck out wide with ‘chalk on his boots’ this season has bewildered many since he does his best work when given freedom to move centrally.
His struggles when he has been stuck out wide this season and his success when moved centrally (4 goals in his last 2 appearances) should mean that the ‘Salah stuck on the wing’ experiment is finally over.
Liverpool’s Darwin problem
Darwin Nunez was supposed to be the key to Liverpool’s evolution this season but since he joined, the team has shown a decline. According to scouting reports, his strengths are dribbling, key passing and finishing while his weaknesses are his defensive contribution, offside awareness and holding on to the ball for too long. Those strengths have been non-existent this season while the weaknesses are on full display already.
On one occasion, Liverpool broke through Nunez, Diogo Jota and Salah with a backpedaling Bernardo Silva the only thing between the three Liverpool players and Ederson’s goal. Somehow, the Uruguayan failed to pick out a teammate from this situation.
The Premier League is an unforgiving place, if Man City had come back to equalize or even win, Nunez’s failure to pass would have cost them deeply. With Salah likely to play centrally more often going forward, Liverpool’s record signing might soon find himself surplus to requirements.
Milner proves the doubters wrong
When the lineup was released, Liverpool fans took to social media to lament James Milner’s inclusion in the starting XI, sure that the 36-year-old would be torn a new one by Phil Foden and Jack Grealish. Surprisingly, the veteran acquitted himself well enough, winning 75% of his ground duels and 100% of his aerial duels.
His stat line for the day: 1 block, 4 clearances, 6 recoveries, 0 fouls committed. And perhaps, most impressive of all, he was dribbled past just once.
If he can pull out that sort of performance against a team as good as Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp will have few qualms about leaning on the English midfielder when Trent and Joe Gomez are injured/need a rest in future.
Van Dijk back to his imperious best?
Virgil Van Dijk’s reputation plummeted this season along with Liverpool’s form as opposing teams quickly figured exactly how to attack the Reds. More gallingly for the Dutchman, players now went out of their way to target him, unlike previous occasions where attackers focused their attention on whoever his central defensive partner was.
Before the City game, many thought that Erling Haaland would run rampant against the Liverpool defense, reflected in the 6.7 million people that picked him as their FPL captain. By the time the referee blew for full time, the Norwegian had gone scoreless for the first time in the Premier League this season. His stats: 76% accurate passes, 80% shot accuracy, an xG of 0.46 and just 39 touches, the least Jota now joins Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arthur, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Luis Diaz and Naby Keita in the treatment room.
In what will be welcome news to Jurgen Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold made a late appearance against Manchester City and almost got on the scoresheet too. The right back was initially expected to be out until November but has made an early return to fitness.
Trent, in particular, will benefit from any decision to move Salah centrally as it would mean extra defensive cover for him at right back. Win-win, right?
Where do you think Liverpool will finish this season? Let us know!
Bet on the Reds to finish in the Top 4 this season @ 1.50
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