Liverpool eased past Burton Albion in the League Cup, restoring some pride and confidence after their miserable display at Burnley.
Burton Albion 0-5 Liverpool
League Cup, Pirelli Stadium
Tuesday 23rd August 2016
Goals: Origi 15′, Firmino 22′, Naylor og 61′, Sturridge 78′, 83′
The deadly, dastardly, direct Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane is probably the most direct player Liverpool have had since Luis Suarez left two years ago.
While Roberto Firmino replaced some of the Uruguayan’s guile and style, Mane brings a relentless attacking drive and unpredictable forward motion with the ball.
Add a jolting burst of acceleration and you have a player of the type Liverpool could have done with against Burnley on Saturday.
He put the first goal on a plate for Divock Origi after leaving his marker wondering what had happened as he went by him in a flash.
He was also quick off the mark to intercept the wayward pass from Burton keeper Steven Bywater, playing the ball to Nathaniel Clyne who crossed perfectly for Firmino for the second.
He raced past the defender to lay on the fifth goal for Daniel Sturridge and was comfortably the man of the match.
If he can consistently add the end product to his forays into the area, he’ll be some weapon for the club this season and beyond.
A surprisingly strong team for the League Cup
Liverpool are only in three competitions this season, but it looks like Jurgen Klopp wants to have a go at winning them all.
Having suffered defeat in the final of this competition last season – losing on penalties to Manchester City at Wembley – the manager may want to make amends this time out.
With no European ties to look forward to in midweek, squad players will have to rely on the domestic cups to get their chance to shine. On this evidence however, they might have to wait even longer for their chance.
Klopp picked a strong team, with the replacements who came in arguably making it a stronger XI than the one which faced Burnley.
“I cannot give all players together the opportunity to play,” Klopp said recently. “The only thing a player can do is work as hard as possible, to perform in each session and then the manger has to make a decision.”
With the side taking part in the early game on Saturday, away to Tottenham, many expected a much changed team tonight in order to rest players for the league.
But as it’s early in the season the manager must believe that regular games are no problem for most of the players, especially with some of them returning from injury or knocks.
In many ways it was a training game, but it will be interesting to see how the squad is managed as the season goes on.
A Matip debut
Joel Matip made his Liverpool debut, playing on the right side of defence alongside Dejan Lovren who shifted across to the left.
His first competitive appearance was encouraging, even if he wasn’t tested too much by the opposition.
Burton’s few attacks, plus their crosses in from set pieces, always seemed to end up on Lovren’s side of the pitch and the Croatian made several clearances.
But Matip did what he had to do and looked composed enough on the ball. He was able to pick out passes further forward rather than simply playing the ball to another member of the back four.
He’s also about about 6ft5, which will no doubt come in handy against some teams in the Premier League. Nice to have that height on set-pieces at both ends.
Strikers on the score-sheet
Three Liverpool forwards got their name on the score-sheet, instilling confidence as the side return to league football.
Despite missing a good early chance, Divock Origi looked like the focal point Liverpool need in attack.
He led the line in true centre forward fashion, showed willing when it came to pressing, while also turning on the style when the occasion called for it.
He turned Mane’s excellent cross into the net for Liverpool’s first with a neat flick round the back with his right foot, and constantly occupied the Burton defence.
Roberto Firmino also managed to get his goal, playing from the left in the position normally occupied by his compatriot Philippe Coutinho.
And late substitute Daniel Sturridge completed the set in typical fashion, poking in James Milner‘s cross with a poachers effort for his first, before powering a left-footed drive past the Burton keeper with apparent ease for his second.
Nice to have the three main forwards all off and running for the season.
It’s only Burton Albion!
With no disrespect to… OK, with some disrespect to Burton Albion, Liverpool should be cruising past tonight’s opponents with ease, as they did here.
The two early goals helped, but it could have been much more difficult had the referee given a penalty for Dejan Lovren‘s early misguided, mistimed challenge in the area.
There was the odd shaky moment in defence, which could be more of a problem against Premier League sides, but this aside the players seemed to be cruising along with few worries.
The pressing was still evident, but with much of the possession and that early lead Liverpool could take it easy.
The two second half goals were scored by a team relaxed, and not panicking, but Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side won’t allow for much of this on Saturday.
Burton Albion 0-5 Liverpool
- MATCH REPORT: Origi, Firmino & Sturridge fire Reds to League Cup victory
- PLAYER RATINGS: Mane leads the ratings with a 9
- KLOPP INTERVIEW: On away wins, goals & Mane
- FAN REACTION: “Impressively professional display”
- PHOTOS: Liverpool notch 5-0 win over Burton