Liverpool were held to an extremely disappointing 1-1 draw by Luton at Kenilworth Road. Here are five talking points from a disappointing outing for the Reds.
Luton Town 1-1 Liverpool
Kenilworth Road, Premier League
Sunday 5 November 2023
Goals: Chong 80′; Diaz 90+5′
Joe Gomez left-back experiment fails
And, while the Englishman put in a strong enough individual performance, it ultimately felt like a move last seen in the Brendan Rodgers era failed to work.
You suspect that defensive concerns – namely the threat of Andros Townsend cutting inside off the wing and the potential for an aerial bombardment – was behind this surprise selection.
But that became an irrelevance in a game that saw Liverpool dominate 74% of possession, with Gomez’s shortcomings going forward on his wrong foot instead highlighted and leaving Liverpool very narrow.
There may be games where Liverpool’s No.2 is suited to this role, but a contest where width is required to unlock a packed defence is certainly not one of them.
Szoboszlai endures first poor game for Liverpool?
It was always going to happen eventually, but proof that Dominik Szoboszlai is human after all wasn’t exactly welcome.
The Hungarian has been an utter revelation since his summer arrival from RB Leipzig, taking to the unique challenges of English football like a duck to water.
But here, for the first time in his Liverpool career, he struggled to impact the play in the final third as a resolute Luton squeezed him out of the game.
That fact was underlined by the fact he managed just one key pass, having put up around four per game in his best showings for the Reds thus far.
It must be hoped that this is simply a minor and inevitable blip after a remarkable start.
The madness of Darwin finally costs Liverpool
In the build-up to this game, Darwin Nunez was the subject of several pieces highlighting the fact that he appeared to be finally delivering on his potential at Liverpool.
And so the Uruguayan could not have picked a worse time to revert to the version of himself seen at Kenilworth Road.
Nine shots, just three on target, and one particularly unforgivable miss from a chance that VAR is likely to have judged to be onside was the sum total of the striker’s contribution to a disappointing draw.
This was the sort of performance it was thought Nunez had put behind him, and he would do well to avoid repeating it if he is to continue his recent upward trajectory.
Not a title-challenging result
At the very start of this season, the feeling was that it was far too early in the development of a much-changed Liverpool team for a title challenge to materialise.
Yet their impressive early points tally and mixed starts for rivals meant the Reds found themselves with an opportunity to make a statement about their aims for this campaign in what is a kind-looking run of fixtures.
Much like last season, results away to newly-promoted sides simply must be better, as too must defending on the counter attack.
The top four has always felt like a more realistic aim, and we perhaps saw evidence of why here.
Magic moment for Luis Diaz
And he could have been forgiven for not wanting to come on in such testing circumstances given ongoing events in his personal life.
But the Colombian did not just pick up some token minutes, he made the telling contribution as the Reds snatched a point at the death before revealing a touching tribute to his father.
It was the clear highlight of a tricky evening, and let’s hope more good news is on the way regarding Diaz sr.