Liverpool have been handed their first loss of the season by a very well drilled Napoli squad. Here are our five talking points from tonight’s loss.
Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente scored the goals for Napoli that saw the Italians beat the defending European Champions 2-0.
Despite erratic league form, Napoli are very, very good
So far this season, Napoli have played three league games. Two of them ending 4-3. One in favour and one against.
This up and down start to the Serie A season is not a testament to how good the side is. This victory over Liverpool is.
The Italians were extremely well drilled and very sturdy on the defensive side. Kalidou Koulibaly was the star of the show. The Senegalese centre-half showing the world that Virgil van Dijk has company in the upper echelon of central defenders.
Napoli overran the midfield in the opening stages. Allan having a fantastic game at the base of their operations. Despite allowing Liverpool to create 11 chances over the course of the game, Napoli never really looked like conceding any.
The Italian side managed three clear-cut chances of their own. Three more than the Reds. This Napoli side deserved to be in the knockout stages of the Champions League last season. An unfortunate draw and unlucky results left them in Europa League limbo.
That wrong will certainly be righted this season.
Despite what people think, is Trent that bad defensively?
Straight up the answer is no.
Trent was by far our better full-back this Tuesday. Every time Lorenzo Insigne asked questions of the English right-back, Trent answered emphatically.
At no point during the 66 minutes that Insigne was on the pitch, did it seem like he had the beating of Trent.
Trent cleaned up after the other defenders, too. One instance of Joel Matip’s lack of concentration nearly lead to Hirving Lozano being in on goal. Trent came galloping over to stop any sniff of an opportunity for the Mexican.
Trent being out better full-back leads into our next point…
Would Joe Gomez have been better than Andy Robertson in these circumstances?
Before the game, Liverpool were concerned about Andy Robertson’s fitness levels. This leads to the assumption that the Scottish left-back wasn’t 100% going into the game in Naples.
Many thought that Joe Gomez could be in line for a start over Trent Alexander-Arnold because they think that the former Charlton defender is better defensively than TAA.
However, he could well have started at left-back. He played there when he first joined Liverpool. He had a successful few weeks playing at left-back under Brendan Rodgers before his injury that kept him out for over a year.
Gomez could have been the answer tonight. He may have prevented the penalty from happening and may have been able to intervene during the kerfuffle that was the conceding of the second goal.
That being said, this is all hypothetical and nothing can be done about the result now. All we can do now is praise the positives.
Fabinho is well and truly one of the best defensive midfielders in the world
Allan had a fantastic game in the heart of the Napoli midfield. He was only bettered by Fabinho. His compatriot.
Fabinho was everywhere all night. It’s getting boring how often we have to turn around and say “Fabinho was the best player on the pitch.”
Fabinho made six successful tackles against Napoli. More than any other player on the pitch. He also won nine duels and recovered the ball 10 times. A monstrous performance.
It’s about time we just accept the fact that Fabinho is one of the best midfielders in the world. He is right up there with Luka Modric in terms of quality and Andrea Pirlo in times gone by in terms of consistency.
Seriously, what is the point in VAR?
The penalty decision was awful considering VAR’s existence. In real-time, it looked like a 50/50 kind of challenge. No complaints either way.
However, as soon as you see a replay, you clearly see that Jose Callejon manufactures the contact with Robertson and forces his way down to the floor.
The issue here is that different referees will have different interpretations of what constitutes “clear and obvious.” I refer to my previous point following Saturday’s game against Newcastle. There should be a separate board of referees for VAR.
In all of the football I have watched so far this season, I am yet to see one decision reversed thanks to VAR. Surely with the rate that referees have clangers these days, this should have happened sooner?
Liverpool are back in action this Sunday as they take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.