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20 Oct 2021 00:04:37
Group of death? What group of death?



Liverpool Article 17 Oct 2021
Watford v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective





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From the moment the game kicked off until Liverpool went 4-0 to the good, it was quite possibly the most dominant performance by a Liverpool team in the Premier League era. Watford were completely outclassed from the start until the finish. There is little to really pick out of this game as it was such a good performance, the only thing to complain about was a dip in performance level after the 4th was scored!







Watford





Watford were comprehensively outplayed for 90 minutes but in large part that was down to some bizarre team choices by Ranieri. Why on earth did Danny Rose start? How did he then complete the game? He was out on his feet after the first 5 minutes of being destroyed by Salah, clearly carrying a few stones extra, or he was wearing a Michelin Man suit under his kit. The whole team were a mess and were all over the place. Considering how long Ranieri has had to work with the players, it is a worry and they look like relegation certainties.



The one bright spot for the Hornets was Ngakia, which raises more questions about why the lad is a substitute rather than a starter? Watford were terrible, but in large part that was down to Liverpool getting at them from the kick off and not allowing them time and space to sort themselves out.







Liverpool





Klopp - got the selection right, though his options were limited in midfield, but the swap of Firmino for Jota made a major difference and allowed the team to dominate the ball better than usual. He kept on the players to ensure complacency did not set in and pushed them right up until the final whistle.





Kelleher - will never have an easier 90 minutes in his life. He could have been on the beach in Spain with the Brazilians! He did pull off a brilliant save to push the ball onto the post, though I think it might have been offside anyway. Hard to remember as the offside decisions come so long after the passage of play you forget which moment they were related to!





Alexander-Arnold - had a very good game, put some decent deliveries in and drove forward well, plus covered back well. On another day, he would be getting a lot of credit for his performance, but he was totally overshadowed by others. Admittedly he was not pushed too hard defensively, but that was as a virtue of the team's play on the ball and not allowing Watford the chance to get out.





Matip - looked back to his best once again. He was much happier as Watford failed to make use of Sarr's pace to get in behind him and he was able to engage high up the pitch.





van Dijk - imperious. He even stuck his oar into the debate about who is the best player in the world with that lovely little back header before playing it out from the back so calmly under pressure. Unfortunately for him, Salah ended the discussion with his masterpiece.





Robertson - if only he could refind his delivery, he would be back to form. Unfortunately, for all his excellent play other than that, his corners and crosses do tend to take the attention away from all the other stuff he does so well.





Milner - as usual he put in a performance of industry and intelligence. He breaks up play and keeps it ticking over well, but his key asset is the timing of his runs. Milner often makes a run just at the right time to drag defenders away from others as the ball is being passed to them.





Keita - while he lacked the creativity he was supposed to bring to the team, he did show a much better work ethic and made some challenges that in the past he would have pulled out of. That is a much better base to build from than a one-off freak goal. In the English league you have to be prepared to put a foot in and be physical, something that had been completely absent from Keita's game up until now.





Henderson - having Milner alongside him allowed him more freedom than normal in the deeper-lying role, so he was able to influence the play higher up the pitch. In large part he was helped by Watford's poor performance, but you can only beat what is in front of you.





Mane - looked back to form, though was totally overshadowed by the performance of the two alongside him. Worked hard, scored a goal and gave his opponent a torrid time. On another day we would all be raving about him.





Salah - the best player in the world right now? I think he settled the argument with this performance, though it must be said Danny 'dump truck' Rose is hardly the most difficult opposition he will face this week. I would say his daughter will give him a much tougher task next time they kick the ball about in the garden. However Rose was helped out constantly by as many bodies as they could get around Salah and it still availed them nothing. The ball to Mane for the first was exquisite, but it was nothing compared to his goal. He also worked hard and tracked back on the rare occasion it was needed. I also thought his post-match interview was very impressive with his constant reference to how well others had played and the team performance, rather than just talking about himself.





Firmino - on a normal day a hat trick would guarantee you man of the match, but not today. Not in this game. Unless you can do something superhuman, you simply are not going to get that honour off Salah. Shame for Firmino as he was excellent after the opening few minutes when his attempts to play the quick, clever ball were just not coming off. As Watford found themselves overrun, the spaces were opening up for those passes and he became more and more important to the team's play.





Tsimikas - replaced Robertson in the 64th minute. With the game being over by the time he came on, it is difficult to judge him, but his delivery from wide areas is always dangerous. If only he had been delivering the corners from the left, you would have to think more chances would have been created.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - came on for Alexander-Arnold in the 65th minute. Worked hard, picked off loose balls and harried Watford, keeping the momentum in Liverpool's favour just as the work rate dipped from other players. The quality is not quite there though unfortunately.





N. Williams - was brought on in the 83rd minute to take Milner's place. Again difficult to judge him, but he did do well in the time he had. His role in the 5th showed a good instinct, with the decision to go across the keeper with his shot meaning it fell to Firmino when he failed to connect properly. But that is why you want a player to go across a keeper in the first place, as it increases the chances of it falling to a teammate if you do not get it quite right or the keeper saves it.



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16 Oct 2021 13:45:51
My god I can't even do the things he does even my dreams. MO SALAH!

{Ed0666's Note - it’s as if he’s paid the Watford defense to sit on their arses.



Liverpool Article 05 Oct 2021
Liverpool v Manchester City A Liverpool Perspective





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An awful first half, with both teams dreadful, followed by a much better second half with both looking much better going forward but hopeless defensively. As a spectacle it was better, but it was a very poor game in terms of the play overall. Both teams were guilty of far too many loose passes, of being tentative in the challenge and ball watching defensively. Personally I found it more frustrating than enjoyable due to all the poor play. It felt like the only really good pieces of play resulted in goals. The rest of the chances came about due to terrible defending, rather than anything clever to create them.



As for the complaints from City over Milner not getting sent off, the referee clearly indicated the foul given was made by Henderson prior to Milner dangling his leg out. He was pointing to Henderson while explaining to the City players, clearly telling them that he had tried to play advantage then called it back for the first offence, as he should do under the laws of the game.



I find it a bit rich for Pep, of all people, to have the cheek to complain about a tactical foul not resulting in a sending off when his teams have benefitted from just those kind of decisions throughout his managerial career. Fernandinho has been able to commit multiple similar offences during a game without a single card so many times, it is difficult to not just think it is about time karma came for Guardiola's team.



As for the spitting incident, if it is true then he has to receive a lifetime ban from Anfield. Sad that people get so wound up over a game.







Manchester City





I have seen so many things talking about how great City were, but that is nonsense, they were almost as poor as Liverpool in the first half. The 'great' Phil Foden was woeful, despite all the ravings about his performance, other than his goal, constantly smashing the ball into a space no teammate could possibly hope to get anywhere near. The odd thing was his reaction to each abysmal piece of play (well nearly as odd as how the pundits and commentators were gushing over how great he was after each dreadful ball in) was the way he would immediately turn to the coaches and plead his case to them. It was like watching a whiny little kid who knows he is in the wrong but has an overprotective parent waiting to jump in, so turns to them to tell the other kids off instead. Very bizarre.



De Bruyne was also, again apart from his goal, awful, which is a big surprise. He had an off day which is probably a large part of the reason City were unable to take advantage of how bad Liverpool were in the first half. They were guilty of giving the ball away constantly and gifting possession back, only to be then handed it back almost straight away. It really was a terrible first half from both teams.



One thing that was clear, City were targeting Liverpool's right, but that is for a number of reasons, not just the usual nonsense claim of targeting Alexander-Arnold and now Milner. For one, and this is the main reason, it removes van Dijk from the equation. When playing a ball over the top, if you can put it into an area away from him, it improves the forward's chances of beating the defence to it, as neither Matip nor Milner are anything like as quick as van Dijk.



Added to that, Matip is caught out almost every time by the ball over the top, he has always struggled to anticipate it and that was a weakness City exploited, putting the ball into an area that Matip should have been covering. They knew that putting the central player in Matip's area will distract him from the run in behind, leaving Foden (mainly) to run into space. If Foden had been half the player he is claimed to be, City would have had a comfortable lead at halftime.







Liverpool





Klopp - I think it was a big mistake not to change Milner at half-time to bring on Gomez's extra pace and avoid any argument over the later foul. Milner was being exposed by Matip, as much as anything City were doing, and Klopp does need to look at that. Matip was playing really well until Klopp rotated, but he has been awful since, at least defensively anyway, he is still excellent on the ball. However, it is a worry that Matip has not refound his form and it might be worth Klopp looking at the alternatives as Liverpool cannot keep giving up chances and expect to win.





Alisson - it is amazing, he puts a pinpoint ball right on to the toe of a forward and nothing is mentioned by the commentators, yet they rave about a ball hit into 50 yards of space by Ederson, which is a much easier pass. One slight error by him under pressure with no players showing to play it to and the commentators are going back over every mistake ever made in his career. Ederson twice shanks the ball into touch under slight pressure, despite having options available and nothing is said. Next they will be criticising Alisson for his lack of goals this season!





Milner - struggled badly and was not given anything like enough cover to protect him. He still managed to do a decent enough job for a third choice player.





Matip - he has not looked right since Klopp rotated him out for a match. Still excellent on the ball but his defending has been lacking the confidence he had been showing previously. I think it might be time for Klopp to test another option alongside van Dijk, unless he can refind his form quickly. He gets caught far too easily by long balls that he should be dealing with. It is costing LFC goals and needs to be sorted.





van Dijk - while he was not particularly culpable yesterday, I would have liked to see him doing more to keep Matip on his toes and ready to drop when the ball was lifted over them. His diagonal balls were not working either, which made it difficult for him to influence the game, as he rarely strides out from the back like Matip does. Perhaps he could have done so yesterday to change things?





Robertson - he is so hit and miss at the moment, one minute brilliant the next awful. His delivery has been terrible for a while now and Liverpool look a lot less dangerous without Tsimikas putting the ball in from setplays and wide areas. He is another whose place has to be under serious threat right now.





Jones - struggled to get any of the ball at all in the first half, in the second he just did not see enough of it to really affect the game. The midfield was very much bypassed quickly, as City looked to avoid getting caught in a press.





Fabinho - was a bit overrun at times and unable to stamp his mark on the game like usual. Barely got a chance to get the ball at his feet to affect the game that way. Really should have scored but took far too long to sort his feet out.





Henderson - looked a bit leggy and never managed to give Milner as much protection as you would expect from him. It was not one of his better days at all.





Mane - barely touched the ball apart from balls hammered at him that were almost impossible to do anything with. When he did get a good chance he finished it with aplomb. Overall he allowed himself to be pushed back too far and too early.





Salah - in the first half he was also pushed back too far and too early, but in the second he got the balance right and was sensational. His play in the build up to the Mane goal was world class, his play for his own goal was a step above even that. Is there a better player in the world right now? I think not.





Jota - dreadful again. He messes up the press, his passing is poor, his touch is heavy and his runs are not the best. But then he will have a moment where he does some excellent work and almost makes up for it all. He was a real weak link, though not for the want of trying, as he was working hard. Jota just lacks the intelligence, or understanding of the press, to channel his work for the most effect. It makes it impossible for the high press to work while he is not doing his part. The potential is there, but it is just not clicking for him yet, not while he plays from the centre anyway.





Firmino - replaced Jota in the 68th minute. He should have been on earlier in my opinion. The link up play and press is so much more effective with him involved. Not just about what he can do on the ball, but his movement meshes much better with Salah and Mane.





Gomez - came on for Milner in the 78th minute. There is absolutely no doubt he should have been on at half-time. His pace would have altered the game and the extra time would have given him a chance to get adjusted to the pace of the match.







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Liverpool Article 26 Sep 2021
Brentford v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective





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A great game to watch as a neutral, as a Brentford fan I would guess it would be even greater to watch, but as a Liverpool fan it was a difficult watch. Some of the football on display was breathtaking, but the defending was amateur hour, reminiscent of the humiliation against Aston Villa last season. A centre-back pairing that have been playing well together so far this season, suddenly dissolved into a pair of players chasing their own tail with no idea what was going on around them.



The big difference between this and the Villa performance was that this was a one-off, Matip and van Dijk had been playing well together this season, whereas last season van Dijk seemed to have lost his focus in the games leading up to it. From a Liverpool perspective it might just be what was needed to wake up the defence and to make opponents have belief and come out and play. In particular, having opponents come out would benefit Liverpool massively over the course of the season.



Overall, Liverpool had more than enough chances to make it a comfortable win, regardless of how bad the defence was playing, and should have added a few more goals. The chances were not half-chances or difficult ones, there were a lot of excellent chances that would normally be taken.







Brentford





Brentford are a clever team, they are always happy to mix it up. They do prefer to play out from the back, but they do not get caught up in doing so when it is not working, unlike their opening day opposition Arsenal. If it is not working they are happy to go long to Toney and try and pick up the pieces from there. In a game like this, it can become a bit route one, but that is more to Liverpool's credit for not allowing them to play their football.



It is clear to see why they have been able to pick up such good results, as well as mixing up their play to suit the moment, they are also very good at mixing it. They are physical, leaving a foot in, similar to Burnley, dropping in late shoulder barges off the ball and other niggly fouls that they know referees tend to let go when it is one of the lesser teams. But the moment one of their players is brushed past, he will be on the floor screaming for the ref and usually gets the decision too.



In fact they are very good at the dark arts of the game, something that helped them unsettle Wolverhampton Wanderers the previous week. They push, pull, kick, get in the ear of the officials and wind up their opponents as much as possible, particularly Pontus Jansson. That is something that could backfire, if referees notice it, added to their constant time wasting, and they could pick up needless bookings and suspensions they can ill afford later in the season.



For now, it is working very well for them and they look to have more than enough about them to survive this season. They certainly have the confidence and the ability to back it up to deserve a second season. In fact I can only say well done Brentford, they played well, kept going even when they went behind and could easily have let their heads drop. They just stepped up and went again, though you could see they were tiring, which is something they will need to look at over the course of the season. Tired players make more mistakes and that could cost them loose goals at times they can ill afford them.







Liverpool





Klopp - I have to say that I think Klopp's recent chopping and changing of the backline was at least partly, in fact largely, the reason for the poor defensive performance. But, I also have to say I fully understand why he has done it and the potential benefits that should, all being well, accrue later in the season by protecting Matip and van Dijk from overwork early on. There was always a danger that something like this would happen, but it is better than one or both picking up silly niggles which could drag on throughout the season.





Alisson - the chopping and changing affects him as much as the players in front of him and Alisson was very uncertain at times. I would have liked to see him take more control over the situation though, he was in position to spot all the problems and direct the defence more.





Alexander-Arnold - he was very heavily targeted yesterday, but it was not, as the commentator was trying to suggest, down to Alexander-Arnold himself. It was down to the full-back area always being an open area with the system Liverpool play and the opposite flank had Canos, who drifts inside constantly, so cannot be used to exploit it. Then there is the benefit of keeping the play away from van Dijk, which is something every team tries to do as much as possible.



That is why Klopp changed the system to put Henderson and Fabinho in a deep-lying two, so that, between them and the centre-backs, they could protect the full-back areas much better. Questions need to be asked as to why Alexander-Arnold was still left being swamped by three players, while the midfield and Matip were marking no one.



Sadly his normally exceptional delivery has deserted him as well, so his forward play was not contributing enough to put Brentford on the back foot, as it normally would. The odd decision to go for in-swinging corners after being successful all season with out-swingers cannot have helped him produce either. I have to wonder why that was persisted with when both full-backs completely ballsed up every corner with poor delivery. Why not just go back to normal?





Matip - awful performance, full of indecision and ball watching. He has been exceptional so far this season, so he can be excused a one-off bad game, it is just a shame it coincided with van Dijk having an even worse game. As a pair they played like total strangers and were all over the place. Matip looked clumsy, slow and weak, constantly making the wrong decisions, but being in and out of the team the last few games cannot have helped him. Hopefully he will be back to the form he has shown the rest of the season sooner rather than later.





van Dijk - it was like van Dijk against Villa all over again. Far too often he was marking no one and being caught out. He did show the one-on-one defending he was famous for at one point though, which showed why Brentford were so keen to focus on the other side of the pitch. But van Dijk really needed to provide more cover or pull a midfielder over to help. Instead he was just throwing his arms up and complaining after each goal, rather than looking at what he could have done to fix the situation. Even the first he was just in no man's land marking no one in the centre of the goal, not affecting anything. But even greats are allowed off days and it did not cost us anything like as badly as it could have done.





Robertson - another poor performance from Robertson. One great run aside it was terrible. His challenges were tentative, weak even, and he looked like a player who was coming back from a long-term injury and trying to shake off rust. Sadly this season he has been playing like that every week, while Tsimikas has been a real threat. Is it time to give the Greek a run and let Robertson understudy him for a while? I hate to even suggest it, because Robertson's won my heart with his play since arriving, but Tsimikas is playing better than him this season.





Jones - the poor marking aside at the first goal, I thought Jones was Liverpool's best player right up until he was taken off. I understand Klopp's thinking, the tactical change needed and a desire to keep him fresh, but I think it was a mistake to take him off for the switch. He could easily have slotted in where Firmino played and both Mane and Jota were struggling at that point in the match, whereas he had just scored and was controlling the play well. After Jones went off, Liverpool looked much less able to control the play, allowing the Bees more possession and chances to attack.





Fabinho - not his best day at all, he did not do enough to cover the defence at all. On the ball he was not at his best either.





Henderson - one of Liverpool's better players, despite being nowhere near his best either. At least he put in a shift and some good work.





Mane - nothing was coming off for him, but he kept going and kept trying. He was not helped by Robertson struggling so badly and offering him little help down the flank.





Salah - once more very good and got his 100th goal in the Prem for Liverpool too, though he could and probably should have had more.





Jota - started brightly, faded after scoring but then came alive again after the substitution. A much improved performance over his last couple and a goal too. He actually showed he could pick a pass as well, so now he just needs to work on playing like that for 90 minutes, rather than in spells.





Firmino - replaced Jones just after he scored the third in the 68th minute. Showed some lovely touches and some Brazilian magic on the ball, but the change did not work and the team looked unbalanced with the four of them up top.





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Liverpool Article 20 Sep 2021
Liverpool v Crystal Palace A Liverpool Perspective





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I have seen a lot of talk about how the result flattered Liverpool and it was much closer than that, but I disagree completely. I think it should have been a much bigger win, it was simply that an unfamiliar backline made a number of mistakes that allowed Palace chances, rather than anything they did particularly well. In fact, it was quite the opposite I thought, as the ball kept ending up at the sulkiest player in English football, Zaha, who was given an absolute lesson by Milner. Though I have no doubt he will fail to heed it, as he has never shown any signs of improving his game beyond the extremely average but ridiculously overrated level it has been since he first appeared.



What I saw was one team that was packed with better players beat a team with lesser players, though I do not disagree they were made to work hard for it. However, hard work should be a given in every game, so being made to work hard for a win should not be seen as anything special. At times Liverpool were exceptional, though the level did drop off a bit after Thiago went off injured. Keita just is not the same level, despite his wonderful finish, at controlling the play and his positional play defensively is much weaker than Thiago's and it allowed Palace to get back into it for a bit.



However, it was not enough, in my opinion, to suggest that the result was anything other than fully deserved. Once Konate and van Dijk have some time to gel together as a pair, I would expect a game like this to be much more routine, as that for me was the biggest issue. Especially when paired with back-up full-backs, in Milner's case the back-ups back-up, you have to expect some mistakes from a new partnership. You could see the uncertainty in a lot of the positioning and it was affecting Alisson too at times. That is something that can only be improved by more games together. The key thing is that they did enough as a group to keep a clean sheet.







Crystal Palace





I have to say Palace disappointed me, they started off well, pressing high, but quickly tailed off as Liverpool took control of the game and, while they had a fair amount of chances, they never really created much. Most of them were coming through mistakes by the Liverpool backline due to indecision caused by a lack of familiarity. Vieira made a huge error in starting with Benteke, who never looked like impacting, let alone scoring, when Edouard had shown so much more last week. They looked to have much more threat with the Frenchman up front, after he came on, but it is hard to understand why Palace did not start with him.



The other issue for me is their widemen, neither of them have enough of an end product for me. Ayew grafts and both have ability but they run down blind alleys, try to do too much and neither deliver quality balls into the box often enough. When you have a player like Benteke up front, you are only going to get anything out of him with good, early balls into the box, something they simply do not provide.



Added to that, tactically Palace were poor, their midfield and front three narrowed off immediately they lost the ball and gave up the wide areas to Liverpool. That allowed Liverpool good possession in dangerous areas, leading to corners, which are a real threat with Tsimikas delivering them into good areas. It was a very strange tactic by Vieira to leave the flanks so unguarded, when Liverpool do look to attack down the flanks in the main, and that was what cost them the game. In fact it was not strange, it was stupid in my opinion, when you do not have a close-packed deep-lying defence in depth to protect the penalty area.



Palace do have one reason to complain, they probably should have had a penalty, I would say 9 times out of 10 that is given as one. Whether it would have changed the result or not is a difficult thing to say, but it would certainly have given them a lift, if they had converted it. I just wish we could understand why these kind of decisions are sometimes given and sometimes not.







Liverpool





Klopp - took a big risk changing the backline completely like that from the team in midweek, though his hand was forced to a degree. Against a better team than Palace, the uncertainty in the backline would have cost Liverpool, but it paid off for Klopp in this match. I do believe he made one mistake though, for me I think Jones should have been on before Keita. He has a much better work ethic than Keita and is much better at controlling the play, which is what Thiago provides. However it worked out really well, so no complaints really!





Alisson - once again back to his best, in one-on-ones he looks almost unbeatable and his distribution is a thing of beauty when the opportunity presents itself. There were moments of indecision between him and the centre-backs, but that is something I am sure will be ironed out in time if Konate and van Dijk play as a pairing.





Milner - hard to believe he only stepped in at the last-minute after Alexander-Arnold took sick in the morning of the game! Milner is Mr. Reliable, he steps in anywhere on the pitch and does the job like he has been playing there every week. He showed Zaha up badly, despite the fact Zaha should have had the pace to cause him problems.





Konate - it was clear there was no instinctive understanding with van Dijk and he is still in need of time to learn his role in a back four, but there were some good signs. Unlike many players who are trying to impress and not having the best of days, he stayed calm and did not do anything rash. When under pressure against an attacker, he stood up and forced them to need to do something to beat him, usually leaving Konate to get a block on the ball. I am sure he will have better games once he settles in.





van Dijk - suffered a bit with, unusually for him, indecisiveness. Van Dijk was not his usual imperious commanding self. Yet he still did enough, along with the rest of the defence, to keep a clean sheet. Once he and Konate work up an understanding, they could be formidable, with Konate having the same willingness to stand up toe-to-toe with an attacker. That was all that was wrong with van Dijk for me in this game, they just need to develop their partnership.





Tsimikas - once again the Greek-Scouser looks excellent going forward, worked extremely hard but had the odd dodgy moment defensively. Those odd moments are more than made up for by his delivery, which is exceptional. His corners are particularly good and usually result in a chance at the very least.





Thiago - he controlled the game for large portions of it, right up until he went off with an injury. He is fast becoming a key player in the midfield, especially in games like this where Liverpool are ball dominant for long periods.





Fabinho - what can you say about the Brazilian? He is just brilliant, not just at breaking up play, but also for what he can provide on the ball. He is such a huge part of every clean sheet with the protection he affords the defence.





Henderson - it is such a shame it took many people so long to recognise just how good a player Henderson is. For years he has been the target of so much abuse, all of it ignorant and that fails to recognise that he is one of the best in his role. Henderson's one main failing has always been his lack of goals, for a player with his ability that is something he could do with rectifying this season.





Mane - as usual he got a goal against Palace, to set a new record for most consecutive games scored in against one opponent, with his 100th Liverpool goal also making it 9 consecutive games he has scored against the Eagles. Mane was excellent and is showing signs of coming back to his breathtaking best, with the smile back too.





Salah - the best player on the pitch by a distance, even though there were a few other excellent performances. Salah right now is on a whole new level to even his own previous best. If this form continues, he must be in the running for Ballon d'Or.





Jota - his form is beginning to worry me, his clinical finishing was making up for his poor play outside of the box, but now his finishing is letting him down too.





Keita - replaced an injured Thiago in the 62nd minute. He came on and finally did what he was brought in to do - drive forward and provide goals. Not just that beauty from the edge of the box, but earlier on he had also taken a shot on when the chance came upon him. Far too often in the past he would have looked to play a pass when it was open for the shot, so it was good to see him look to score. But he has to realise that this is just the beginning.





Jones - came on in place of Jota in the 76th minute. Jones makes things happen, he may not be everyone's favourite, in fact he seems to be the latest target of those looking for a scapegoat, but Jones almost always affects a game. He came on and helped the team wrestle back the initiative they had lost for a few minutes after Thiago went off.





Origi - took Henderson's spot on 88 minutes. Barely had time for much, other than to be serenaded by the Kop.





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Liverpool Article 14 Sep 2021
Leeds United v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective





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A surprisingly one-sided affair at Elland Road, which could have seen Liverpool run up a much bigger score, while Leeds struggled to get any meaningful involvement in the match. From a Liverpool point of view the game should have been out of sight at half-time. Leeds do not yet look to be hitting anywhere near the heights they did last season, though they did have a few games last time out where they were as open defensively, so it is too early to worry about them.



As for Liverpool, they were dominant even before the sending off, looking much more like the team that won the Premier League a couple of seasons ago. It may even be a little unfair to pick at Leeds and call them open when very few teams have been able to cope with this Liverpool side without just sitting deep and hanging on for 90 minutes. Add that to having to play a large chunk with just 10 men and Leeds can hardly be criticised for the result.



The unfortunate injury to Harvey Elliott was just that, unfortunate. Such a shame but it was clearly just an accident and there was absolutely no intent on Struijk's part to hurt Elliott at all. I am not wholly convinced it was a red card at all, but I do not want to watch it back and see it again to be sure of that! Get well soon Harvey, YNWA.







Leeds United





While they are struggling to get going so far this season, I personally see no reason to worry about them finishing outside of the top half. They have had a difficult start and I would expect them to start coming good as the season goes on, just like last time round. They are just suffering a post-transfer window hangover by the looks of things, where they were expecting more to come in and feel a little deflated. They have a run of winnable games to get going again and they will need to start winning if this blip is not to become a slump.







Liverpool





Klopp - you would find it difficult to find fault with his team selection and the way the team performed for him in this game.





Alisson - despite having very little in the way of saves to make, he played very well, pulling out a save when needed and his distribution was excellent.





Alexander-Arnold - his setpieces were poor but the rest of his game was excellent once more and he, Salah and Elliott were crucifying Leeds down their flank. Of course he also put in an excellent ball, after a good run, for Salah to score. And yet the waistcoated wonder will still not play him at right-back for England, no matter how much better he is than any other full-back in the game right now. It really does beggar belief how idiotic Southgate really is to ignore Alexander-Arnold's qualities at right-back.





Matip - had an exceptional game, including the run for the opener. He and van Dijk were almost playing as playmakers for most of the game as Leeds harried the Liverpool midfield. He is good enough on the ball to enjoy getting time and space with it at his feet.





van Dijk - some of his diagonal balls to the flanks are just worthy of a round of applause alone. He strolled through the game and was able to ping it about in a way that was almost reminiscent of Xabi Alonso at times. To cap it off he is an excellent defender with genuine pace as well. That made it a very hard day for Bamford, who must have just been glad to get off the pitch at the end.





Robertson - a quieter than usual day for him as most of the attacks went down Liverpool's right. He struggled to link up with Jota, while Jota was on the left for large portions of the first half, in particular. Though that was more Jota's fault. When Mane shifted out to the left Robertson came into the game more and they took the game to Leeds.





Thiago - he was surprisingly effective at breaking up play alongside Fabinho, though he was not as effective on the ball as he would like. In large part due to the ball being moved forward so quickly to take advantage of gaps at the back in Leeds' defence. When he did get on it, he was able to get things moving forward quickly as well.





Fabinho - did his usual exceptional job breaking up play, sometimes his reading of the play is incredible. It is not luck that he is always there to stick out a foot and pick off a pass. Added to that he got a goal. It is difficult to find an argument against him deserving man of the match, he was the main reason Liverpool were able to pen Leeds back even before the sending off.





Elliott - such a shame he picked up the injury because he was once more influential and linking up brilliantly with Salah and Alexander-Arnold down the right. Those three together were the main difference between the two sides. Leeds simply could not cope with their interchange and movement. Hopefully he will back and as good as ever soon.





Mane - while playing central for the main part of the first half I thought Mane was excellent and linked up play well, as well as threatening to score so many times. When he returned to his usual left wing berth he continued to cause Leeds headaches and eventually got the goal he deserved. Mane is really beginning to get his form back, with some lovely touches and using his strength so well to hold onto the ball. I was disappointed with his attempt to earn a decision when he had clearly just knocked a ball too far away. There was no need to do that and I was glad the referee ignored his pleas for a foul.





Salah - Salah has started off the season on fire and once again he was excellent, adding his 100th goal in the Premier League as well. Right now he is looking almost unplayable and Leeds' attempts to man-mark him failed miserably. That is why most teams have two or three around him every time he gets the ball, one is not enough to stop him. It is not just that, it is also his willingness to work back when needed, such as when Alexander-Arnold was on the ground in the Leeds' box and he tracked back to the right-back position to cover.





Jota - for me, for a large portion of the first half he was the one disappointment in the starting eleven. His touch and passing were once more letting him down and he was offering little. After that, he came into the game a bit more and played much better, but unusually was not able to score.





Henderson - replaced an injured Elliott in the 63rd minute. While I have seen a lot of people complain about the choice of Henderson coming on, rather than a more attacking player, I think it made a lot of sense to bring him on. After that injury to Elliott, players often lose focus and can let their performances dip as they are too busy thinking about what has happened. Henderson is the kind of leader that gets everyone back focused on the game and keeps their performances up. I believe the choice to bring him on went a long way towards allowing Liverpool to take advantage of the sending off.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - came on in place of Jota in the 82nd minute. He struggled to get into the game and had little effect. Really he needed a bit more time to show what he can do.





Keita - took Thiago's spot on 90+3 minutes. Never had the time to really show what he can do.





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