The media were pleased to see Liverpool’s attacking excellence return and impressed by the new boys in the 4-0 rout of Red Star Belgrade.
A convincing win boasting goals and a clean sheet to take the Reds to top spot in Group C—a very important night could hardly have gone better.
The Fab Three clicked back into gear and did the damage, with Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah’s brace—including his 50th Reds goal—earning a routine, but vital, three points.
It was a pleasingly accomplished performance from Jurgen Klopp’s men, but the biggest positives were undoubtedly the welcome return of fluency in attack and goals raining down again.
Here’s how the media assessed a pleasing night at Anfield.
Reporters were pleased to see Liverpool’s attacking excellence make a welcome return
Our own Karl Matchett simply assessed “Liverpool’s attack is back”:
The interplay was good, there was lots of movement on show and they all looked keen to get shots away whenever possible, and the final pass was much better in terms of both decision-making and execution.
Liverpool’s attack is back.
The Mirror’s Liam Prenderville thought we saw the birth of a new ‘Fab Four’, with Xherdan Shaqiri shining alongside the original ‘Fab Three’:
A new fab four reigned supreme on Merseyside.
The Independent’s Simon Hughes assessed the attacking performance as the most fluid since the 5-2 rout of Roma last May:
The outcome was the most fluid combination between the other three since AS Roma were beaten on this ground in May, reminding too how much Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s thrust has been missed since that night, a player whose intent compensated for the loss of Philippe Coutinho.
The Mail’s Ian Ladyman noted how Liverpool’s attack rediscovered their hunger for goals:
Nevertheless, this Liverpool team’s hunger for goals is remarkable. When they get their blood up, they are like a boxer driven forwards by the scent of vulnerability.
The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce was pleased to see the Reds dish out an overdue thrashing and make light work of limited opposition:
Of course tougher tests lie ahead. Red Star failed to muster a single shot on target but Liverpool have made hard work of beating limited opposition this season so to see them cut loose was a satisfying sight.
There was plenty of praise for new boys, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe thought Shaqiri proved that he is the man to fully reignite Liverpool’s attack:
Despite their excellent start to the season, Klopp has been searching for the same equilibrium between attack and defence since.
On this evidence, Shaqiri is the solution.
Telegraph colleague Jason Burt thinks Shaqiri is becoming a key player and believes the Swiss international could well be the man Liverpool have needed to replace Philippe Coutinho:
The Swiss is maybe now a man they cannot miss as he plays his way from super-sub from relegated Stoke City to super addition to a team that for all its attacking threat has never quite filled the subtle gap left by Philippe Coutinho. Maybe now they have.
Interestingly, ESPN’s Glenn Price was most impressed by Shaqiri’s work off the ball, noting how the attacker contributed defensively and constantly found spaces to pull the string in attack:
Everyone knew about Shaqiri’s attacking qualities but few could imagine the levels of graft he’s bringing to this Liverpool team.
His work off the ball — tracking back and finding vital pockets of space — were hugely significant in this win.
Writing for Goal.com, Neil Jones praised Fabinho’s “physicality and passing ability” from midfield and believes Shaqiri is already proving to be a bargain:
Shaqiri played a big role in Liverpool’s first two goals, while Fabinho grew into the game strongly after an uneasy start. The Brazilian’s tenacity, physicality and passing ability was notable.
The Swiss star is making a big impact at Anfield, his touch, work-rate and creativity standing out. At £13million he already looks a bargain.
The Mirror’s Liam Prenderville thought Fabinho proved he’s ready for more regular action and thinks that should start with the Brazilian keeping his place against Cardiff:
He did an excellent screening job too and now up to speed with the pace of the English game, he will add an extra dimension to the Liverpool midfield.
Saturday’s clash with Cardiff , with Henderson and Keita still struggling, should see him given his first Premier League start.
However, for the Evening Standard’s David Lynch, Fabinho still has work to do to get up to speed with Liverpool’s play but saw promising signs over the Brazilian’s adaption:
The Brazilian was passed with ease in the early stages and looked to want too much time on the ball – something Red Star were not willing to grant him.
But, as was the case against Chelsea in the League Cup, Fabinho began to assert more and more influence on the game as it wore on.
But Matchett was impressed by the midfield unit of Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum, and feels that the duo staked a claim to be the first choice pairing:
On his full Champions League debut for the Reds, Fabinho was excellent. Alongside him, Wijnaldum was also exemplary.
They may well be the duo to displace right now and the next midfield selection could show much of Klopp’s thinking as to who is the undisputed ‘first choice.’
Certain reporters reflected on Liverpool’s progress at the halfway mark of the group stage
Lynch feels the Reds are nicely on track to progress and “couldn’t ask for more” sitting top of the group:
Liverpool would no doubt have preferred to avoid a three-way shootout by holding on to a point at Napoli earlier this month, but they couldn’t ask for more than heading up the pack going into the fourth game.
Jones thought Liverpool illustrated that they will once again be serious contenders for the trophy:
In a week when Manchester United and Tottenham stuttered, Liverpool reaffirmed their status as Champions League challengers. Going one better than last season will be difficult, of course, but on this evidence Klopp’s men are in the argument at the very least.
The watching journalists also offered some alternative thoughts from the victory
There was discussion on captaincy after Virgil van Dijk took the armband, and Prenderville thinks the Dutchman should now become permanent skipper:
But there will likely be a real debate over whether he should be made permanent captain. Henderson, for all his leadership qualities, is not a guaranteed starter and the same applies to Milner with the captaincy switching during the first few months of the season.
Surely Liverpool would benefit from having a permanent skipper, who is guaranteed to start every single match when fit?
However, Lynch believes that while van Dijk strengthened his claim to become captain in the future, taking the responsibility from Jordan Henderson would be counter-productive:
Henderson’s captaincy, which Van Dijk has often praised himself, is under no threat – taking the armband away would be a needlessly demoralising move.
Finally, Matchett reflected on Klopp’s use of a 4-2-3-1 formation and felt the Reds’ success with the shape provides a welcome alternative going forward:
And it also gives the Reds confidence that, in games where matters are not going to plan, they have an alternative to switch up the tactical approach and get dangerous players into different areas of the pitch.
For the first time in quite a while, this Liverpool side represented the tactical layout of Klopp’s old Dortmund side in Europe.