Liverpool returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield but it was a mixed 90 minutes for Jurgen Klopp and his side.
Huddersfield Town 0-1 Liverpool
Premier League, John Smith’s Stadium
October 20, 2018
Goals: Salah 23′
Salah Breaks His Month-Long duck
Four games without a goal wouldn’t bother some forwards, but it felt like an eternity for Mo Salah to go without celebrating.
There was an element of relief, then, when Salah buried his first chance of the game—but at the same time an acknowledgement is due that it was a great strike on his weaker foot.
Salah could have netted another later on, firing wide this time, but he was heavily involved in the Reds’ buildup play.
He’s not quite at his best, of course, even with the goal, and that was reflected with a few wayward passes, a couple of moments of hesitation when he might have gone for goal.
But the fact Salah is still the dangerman, still the match-winner for the Reds even though he’s not at 100 percent, reflects well on what a big player he remains.
And it offers hope for when he hits top gear that there’s much more to come.
Shaqiri & Sturridge Staking a Claim
As far as auditions go, both put in a good shift and made a case for future inclusion, but it was the Swiss international who was more heavily involved in good passages of play.
He claimed the assist by freeing Salah in the box, an intelligent and well-weighted pass, but his work in the channels and quick passing around the middle and final third was also impressive.
Sturridge played well, but it was more frustrating for him: too often the return pass to him was wayward, the shooting chances didn’t fall his way and one cross which he could have reached was stolen off his head by Adam Lallana, who was off-balance.
Klopp’s Midfield Inspiration…and Issues
It was reasonably fluid in terms of movement, with the idea clearly to leave Salah and Lallana as high upfield as possible to support Sturridge, but the on-the-ball work didn’t quite match the intent.
In fact, some of Liverpool’s possession play was downright awful.
The latter pairing of Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum was better, more energetic and better in getting the ball between the lines, but by then the forward line had taken over in being wasteful on the ball.
Still work to do to perfect the balance in the middle of the park.
Another Clean Sheet
One huge positive for the Reds is that this clean sheet means it’s just three conceded in nine, with three shutouts in the last four.
More importantly, it also means this is the first Liverpool side to concede as few as three goals in the first nine league games of a campaign.
They rode their luck at times, with the woodwork and the offside flag both coming to the rescue.
Fabinho‘s presence late on helped solidify the centre of the park, with his debut a welcome sight for Reds fans.
While the front line isn’t on top form, the defence must stand firm—and this time they did so enough to help earn the points.
Good Start to an All-Important Run
Much was made of the Reds’ tough run of games prior to the international break, but they largely came out of it well, unbeaten in league play.
Now is a much more straightforward looking succession of games, but that’s only worth the acknowledgement if the Reds actually go out and win each time.
Without being a classic performance which will live long in the memory, this was the type of match Liverpool had no option but to win, and win they did.
Not at their best, away from home, battling to see out a match and still coming away with the points: that’s a big statement, just as much as winning at Spurs was in its own way.
Now to continue it, and build on the big start to the season.