I’ve decided to change things up a little bit this season in terms of how I report about my beloved Reds. Last season I tried to write about every game. This season I intend to do this on more of a weekly basis taking in the events of the previous seven days at the club.
So one week in and 3 games gone. Its certainly been a busy start to the season for the Reds. The crushing disappointment of that last-minute equaliser by Watford have since been replaced with encouraging wins at Hofffenheim and, of course, Saturday’s win at home to Palace.
I must admit I was starting to doubt the Reds after the debacle at Watford. It was as if there had been no off-season. The boys at the back were making the same stupid mistakes as they were last season. It was just so painful to watch.
All three Watford goals could and should have been avoided. We didn’t play particularly well and still scored three. The Hornets were terrified of the pace of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah. Mane, in particular, was brilliant. He could be the Premier League’s best player by the end of this season. He is that good!
As debuts go it was a good one from Salah. Time and again he was getting in behind the Watford defence. He got his goal but I came away frustrated with him. For me he should have had a hat trick. I can think of two other occasions in the game where he had just the keeper to beat but finished tamely. Both were on his weaker right side but he should have scored. At least he was in those positions though and you just know he will get better.
There was a lot of doom and gloom going into the Hoffenheim game. Seeing the boys bounce back with the win in such a testing arena was so good to see. I was wary but the one thing I do know is no matter who we play against, we can score goals.
Hoffenheim posed a real threat in the first half. We rode our luck and who knows what would have happened had the Germans not missed that early penalty but they did. The only disappointment in the end was that we didn’t keep the clean sheet. At 2-0 we had some great chances to put the tie out of sight but that momentary lapse of concentration at the back let the home side for that crucial goal to give them hope for the second leg.
Of course the big story of the night was the performance of Trent Alexander-Arnold right-back. It is hard to believe that he is still just 18. Such maturity, such poise and so much confidence in one so young. It was a sensational performance capped by his brilliant free-kick which gave Liverpool the lead. He came of age that night and we will be hearing a lot more about this boy over the coming years.
If anything, the most pleasing result of the week came against Palace. Last season, this was the type of game that was our ultimate achilles heel. We just couldn’t break teams down. Add to the mix that the Eagles have been our bogey team in recent years. They had won the last three times they’d played at Anfield. I was not looking forward to this one.
I thought we showed real patience and an excellent attitude. We kept playing our football. We kept knocking on the door and eventually Palace cracked. Sadio Mane once again the match winner. If we are are going to challenge this season, then we are going to have to grind out a fair few more results like this. It’s nice to get one on the board early.
It also showed me that this team can defend. Yes Benteke missed that sitter but, on the whole, I think we defended pretty well. Joel Matip was superb and dominated Benteke in the air which takes some doing. Ragnar Klavan looked assured alongside him. Joe Gomez did a job at right-back but if I’m honest I don’t want to see him there. He’s a centre-back playing out of position. Looking forward to seeing Alexander-Arnold back there on Wednesday.
The real star of the show against Palace was new boy, Andrew Robertson. What a difference a week makes! On the bench against Watford and then left out of the squad completely against Hoffenheim. Questions were being asked about our £10m left-back but he got the call-up on Saturday and answered it superbly. He was the best player on the park and comfortably so.
In the first half alone, he put in at least four wonderful crosses that were just crying out to be converted. He was always available and was a constant threat down that left hand side. Of course, he will face sterner tests in the months to come in which we will see how he fares defensively, but for now let’s just revel in what he showed us at the weekend. He just looked so comfortable and a perfect fit for Jurgen Klopp’s system. I think we could have a real gem here but time will tell.
Away from the pitch, the big talk, of course, has been the Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona saga. It’s obvious that he wants to go. I can’t say I blame him. It’s every Latin players dream to play for either Barca or Madrid. I don’t want him to go especially this late in the window. Yes, he pissed me off putting in his transfer request and I also think his alleged back injury is a smokescreen while all this plays out. At the end of the day though, he is our best player alongside Mane. We miss the little genius. I want to see him back in that famous red shirt sooner rather than later.
I do admire FSG’s stance on the issue. 3 bids in and all flatly rejected. I just hope they see it through to the to end. People saying if Barca bid in the region of £150m then FSG will accept. To be honest when that much money is being offered, it makes no difference whether it’s £115m or £150m. It’s still a ridiculous amount of money.
I believe the owners will stand firm and Coutinho will stay in my opinion. If he does it will be interesting to see exactly when he plays again. Those back injuries can take a long time to heal, he says with tongue firmly in cheek!
I personally think we will bring in at least 2 new faces regardless of whether Coutinho leaves or not. We desperately need another quality addition at centre-back. I still think there’s legs in the Virgil van Dijk situation.
It’s obvious that Southampton don’t want to sell to us. They can say all they want about keeping him or the possibility of letting him rot in the reserves. Neither scenario will happen. There’s no way they will let a minimum £60m slip through their fingers. The Saints will try and ride it out until the last possible moment in the hope that if he does go it’s to somebody else. I think VVD will be a Red on deadline day.
We also need another creative midfielder. It’s an area we are sorely lacking with both Coutinho and Adam Lallana out at present. It really wouldn’t surprise me if Naby Keita’s name cropped up again. I know Leipzig have said any deal for him this year is dead but stranger things have happened. As per usual, every day we are linked with somebody different. I can see Klopp pulling a rabbit out of the hat with a surprise name that no one will have mentioned. Let’s see what happens!
On the whole I think this first week of action has been a decent one. The mood of all us Reds has definitely lifted since the Watford game and there are definite grounds for optimism. That’s what winning does for you.
Two huge home games coming up this week. There’s the all-important second leg against Hoffenheim on Wednesday followed by the visit of Arsenal on Sunday. I fully expect us to win both games.
Seven days is a long time in football. Let’s hope that this time next week, my mood is still on the up. Up The Reds!