Liverpool still have a job to do in their Champions League group after a below-par performance saw them struggle to a 1-1 draw with Napoli
Liverpool 1-1 Napoli
Champions League, Anfield
November 23, 2019
Goals: Lovren 65′; Mertens 21′
Alisson (out of 10) – 6
Still without a clean sheet this season when he’s played 90 minutes.
Though Dries Mertens scored past him from a narrow angle, it was a good strike from the Belgian right into the far corner, so it would be harsh to attach any blame to the Brazilian stopper.
Didn’t have much else to do after this.
Joe Gomez – 5
Didn’t look at all comfortable in the position.
Offered little in attack, which contributed to Liverpool struggling generally down the right-hand side.
One or two good moments recovering in defence, but it was difficult to find positives.
Subbed before the hour mark.
Dejan Lovren – 7 (Man of the Match)
Made an important block on a Mertens shot early on and was strong against Hirving Lozano.
On the BT Sport coverage, Rio Ferdinand placed some of the blame for the Napoli goal on him, which was harsh.
Headed the equaliser emphatically from James Milner‘s corner.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
Floored (possibly fouled) in the buildup to Napoli’s goal, leaving space for Mertens to exploit the space and score.
Probably shouldn’t have been downed so easily by a much smaller opponent, and seemed fine afterwards.
Other than that main incident, he played a nice ball over the top for Sadio Mane in the first half and was much more dominant in the second.
Andy Robertson – 6
One brilliant first-time pass out to Henderson aside, the Scot didn’t enjoy the best of times in the first half.
A couple of poor corner kicks towards the end of that period summed up Liverpool’s performance to that point.
Was the more recognisable Robertson in the second half, making driving runs forward and setting up Mohamed Salah for a good chance.
Jordan Henderson – 6
A couple of really good crosses weren’t far off finding Liverpool heads.
Needed to be a touch quicker on a couple of occasions carrying the ball forward on the counter.
Moved to right-back later in the game but couldn’t get much going.
Fabinho – N/A
Picked up an ankle injury during a coming together in midfield. Tried to play on but was eventually replaced.
James Milner – 7
Let off a couple of shots, seeing one effort blocked following some neat play after a corner, and another shot forced a save from Alex Meret towards the end of the first half.
It was his corner which led to the equaliser, landing perfectly on Lovren’s head.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Good little move to set himself up for a chance in the first half but his shot was blocked.
A shot in the second half after being set up by Robertson can only be described as a pass to Meret.
Doesn’t look his old self at the moment, though he still wins some good balls in attacking areas.
Moved to centre-forward later in the game but nothing fell his way.
Roberto Firmino – 7
Made a nice backheel to set up one of Milner’s chances, and held the ball up well to allow wide players to get forward.
Quick interplay in midfield. Sent Mane through for a good chance and was one of few players in red passing the ball with urgency in the middle of the park.
Jurgen Klopp recognised this and moved him into an attacking midfield position in a 4-2-3-1 once Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on.
Sadio Mane – 6
Relentless pressing, but couldn’t have as much impact on the game in attack as he would have liked.
Probably the least involved he’s likely to be in a game.
Gini Wijnaldum (on for Fabinho, 19′) – 6
Replaced Fabinho as the holding midfielder. Had a couple of chances to make things happen but couldn’t do much with them.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Gomez, 57′) – 7
Crossed for Firmino shortly after coming on to create one of Liverpool’s best chances.
Looked to pick up a knock and struggled after that.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (on for Milner ‘) – 6
Not as accurate with his crosses in open play as was required, giving Meret a couple of easy catches.
Definitely added more attacking verve, but probably needed longer on the pitch.
Jurgen Klopp – 6
Spoke of his respect for his opposite number Carlo Ancelotti prior to the game, and maybe showed his side too much respect on the pitch.
It was a good tactical battle, with the German changing his formation three times to try to break down Ancelotti’s 4-4-2.
The first sub was forced, but the introduction of Oxlade-Chamberlain-Alexander-Arnold in the second half added something which was lacking, but perhaps shouldn’t have been lacking in the first place.
The full-backs are regularly spoken of as Liverpool’s best creators, but tonight they needed it from elsewhere and it rarely came.