Squad players struggle but “no harm should be done to morale” – Media on Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea

27 September 2018

The media felt Liverpool’s squad players failed to impress in the 2-1 League Cup loss to Chelsea and insist Saturday’s Premier League clash will be different.


The 100 per-cent winning start came to a disappointing end as the Reds exited the League Cup at the third round for the second successive season.

A piece of individual brilliance from Eden Hazard proved the difference, after Emerson equalised following Daniel Sturridge’s superb opening over-head kick.

It was a disappointing defeat but it means the Reds can now give full concentration to the far more important competitions in the Premier League and Champions League.

Here’s what the media made of events at Anfield.

 

Reporters discussed the significance and impact of the loss, as well as what went wrong for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Joel Matip and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet look dejected during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Writing for Goal.com, Neil Jones played down the defeat and believes it will have no bearing on Saturday’s Premier League showdown:

Those looking for serious pointers for that game, though, will have left disappointed.

[…]

Saturday will be different, of course. Different stadium, different stakes, different line-ups.

The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce believes there’s no reason for Liverpool to lose belief after one disappointing result:

Certainly, no harm should be done to morale as Klopp plots an instant revenge mission down at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night. That contest certainly means more than this one.

Discussing the performance, the Guardian’s Andy Hunter put the defeat down to Liverpool lacking “defensive authority” in the absence of Alisson and Virgil van Dijk:

Without Virgil van Dijk and Alisson they simply lacked the defensive authority to repel a team of Chelsea’s quality and Hazard’s excellence.

It was a return to the suspect foundations of last year and a heavy price was paid.

David Lynch for the Evening Standard thought Liverpool missed their usual productivity from full-back as Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno were limited going forward:

As well as being difficult to pass in dangerous positions, Klopp’s first-choice pair are natural footballers capable of making a huge impact on proceedings from full-back courtesy of their ability on the ball and clever runs.

[…]

It was the latter element that Liverpool most missed on Tuesday evening, with Clyne and Moreno unable to threaten on the overlap or get the ball out of feet quickly enough to put in their teammates.

And the Mail’s Ian Ladyman noted the drop in defensive work from the attack in comparison to the first choice front three, assessing this as a key factor to the loss:

Part of what made this Liverpool team different from the one we are used to seeing was the lack of pressure on the ball applied by players such as Shaqiri and Sturridge when Chelsea were in possession.

Discussing what the loss means, our own Joanna Durkan feels the biggest negative is that there will be fewer chances for competitive football for squad players and youngsters:

For Liverpool, the League Cup was tipped to be a platform for Fabinho to find his groove, Nathaniel Clyne and Moreno to rediscover their form and keep fresh, but an early knockout has ensured that plan will not come to fruition—akin to last year.

[…]

With ambitions to make a tilt for the Premier League title and have yet another successful run in the Champions League, opportunities for Klopp to hand players games will now be severely restricted—unless injury or suspension forces his hand.

The Independent’s Simon Hughes thinks the defeat provides a positive in that there will now be fewer games for Liverpool to play in a traditionally difficult January:

For Liverpool, the only positive to take from this defeat is that they will not face a two-legged semi-final in January, a month they have struggled in since Jurgen Klopp became manager.

Meanwhile, Pearce challenged the Reds to use the fact that they now feature in only two competitions until January to their advantage:

And now they need to turn a negative into a positive by taking advantage of the fact they only have two competitions to focus on until January.

 

The watching media widely felt the majority of fringe players failed to take their chance to impress

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the first goal during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First of all, ESPN’s Mark Ogden felt the game showed flaws remain in Liverpool’s lack of quality depth – highlighting left-back and striker as the problematic positions:

Alberto Moreno once again showed that he is not good enough defensively at left-back, so Klopp will have to hope that Andy Robertson remains fit and available.

And although Daniel Sturridge scored a scissor-kick to break the deadlock for Liverpool, the former England forward missed an easier chance prior to his goal. Despite his ability, he’s nowhere near sharp enough to fill in for Salah or Firmino on a long-term basis.

Oppositely to Ogden, Hughes actually thought Klopp’s selection showed how much the squad has improved under the German’s guidance:

Klopp’s team selection, however, did remind to some extent how far Liverpool have travelled under his guidance.

Jones assessed that not enough of those given a chance took the opportunity to prove their worth, highlighting how the main strugglers were in defence:

Having told his pre-match press conference that each and every one of his players was training well, pushing for a place, the question here was how many of Klopp’s fringe men would step up to the plate here? The answer, in truth, was not enough.

[…]

Liverpool’s full-backs, Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne, did little to impress, while Dejan Lovren showed understandable rustiness on his first competitive appearance since the World Cup final in July.

Our man Chris Williams thought Alberto Moreno in particular failed to inspire, assessing that the Spaniard showed no signs of challenging Andy Robertson for the left-back berth:

There’s a reason Andy Robertson starts every game normally. Moreno didn’t show anything that could suggest he could challenge for the left-back role.

Rash into challenges, eager to clear the ball (to no one) and easily skipped past for Chelsea‘s second due to his failure to read the situation.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Williams also felt one player to prove his worth was Shaqiri, labelling the Swiss attacker the Reds “best player on the night”:

Liverpool’s best player on the night, and should have given Jurgen Klopp enough to show the manager he can be relied upon to change the game when needed.

Very dangerous on the attack and has the pace to frighten opposition defences. Should feature a lot more in the next few weeks as the fixtures come thick and fast.

Durkan felt Sturridge also took his chance alongside Shaqiri and was impressed by the link-up play between the pair:

While individually the duo looked impressive it was their work in tandem which also caught the eye, with Sturridge’s movement closer to the midfield showcasing his ball disposal which opened space for him to link up with the former Stoke man.

The past week has only gone to show Liverpool can rely on the pair to make an impact, whether it be from the starting whistle or from the bench.

 

Reporters gave verdicts on Fabinho’s full debut, with mixed assessments on the Brazilian’s performance

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s Thomas Bristow was impressed with Fabinho, labelling the summer signing’s display “a promising start”:

However, the 24-year-old impressed.

It wasn’t the flashiest of displays but it was solid. There were also promising signs of how Fabinho and Naby Keita can work together in central midfield. A promising start for Fabinho.

The Mail’s Dominic King thought the Brazilian struggled but gave a great example of how he can learn from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s slow start to grow into the key player Klopp sees him becoming:

As far as debuts go, it will not rank in the greatest Anfield has witnessed.

[…]

What’s more, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s example is pertinent. He made his first start for Liverpool last season, in the League Cup at Leicester, on September 19. His next one came on November 1. He, nonetheless, ended up playing a huge part in Liverpool’s season. Fabinho will aim to do the same.

Pearce felt a lack of support – especially in terms of creativity – around Fabinho was a bigger issue on the night:

Fabinho showed his qualities with a couple of fine challenges to dispossess Victor Moses and then Mateo Kovacic. But there wasn’t enough spark and guile around the Brazilian, while defensively Liverpool looked suspect at times.

Finally, the BBC’s Shamoon Hafez thought Naby Keita outshone Fabinho in midfield:

Fabinho‘s midfield partner Naby Keita also caught the eye with his pace and industry which Chelsea found difficult to deal with.

Keita, a £55m signing from RB Leipzig, continually burst forward and had a long-range drive collected by Caballero and his next effort forced the Chelsea goalkeeper into a flying save.

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