Talking Points: Liverpool 3 PSG 2

Roberto Firmino scored a late winner to give Liverpool a deserved 3-2 victory over PSG. Daniel Sturridge and James Milner had given the Reds a 2-0 lead before goals from Meunier and Mbappe levelled proceedings, only for Firmino to net at the death.

Reds prove they belong amongst the elite…

Despite reaching the final last year, it did feel slightly like Liverpool didn’t get to face many of Europe’s top sides. Things have already changed this campaign though, as Jürgen Klopp and his players welcomed PSG to Anfield in their first group game. With the likes of Neymar, Cavani, Mbappe and many other household names, the French side are regarded as one of the best in Europe. However, everyone knows of PSG’s struggles against other top sides in the CL, this mainly due to hardly ever playing against good teams in Ligue 1, and the lack of big game match practice causing other issues such as tactical naivety. Liverpool weren’t at their best on Tuesday night, but they didn’t have to be to make their opponents look incredibly average. PSG’s attack hardly had a sniff all match, and by not tracking back made things all too easy for the Reds. Huddersfield or Cardiff would have put up more of a fight in the second half than PSG did. Of course the scoreline didn’t reflect the dominance, but the performance and the win was more than enough to show that Liverpool belong at Europe’s top table and are amongst the elite – not just in the CL but in all competitions this season.

Salah frustrations continue…

Mo Salah hasn’t been terrible this season, not to the point where he is negatively contributing to the team, but against PSG he very nearly did. It was the Egyptian’s sloppy pass that allowed Thomas Tuchel’s team to break and score the equalising goal, and if the score would have finished 2-2 then Salah would be getting all the blame. The most important thing is that Salah is still getting into dangerous positions – if he wasn’t doing that then we would have cause for concern. But in these areas, his touch just isn’t quite right and his decision making is incorrect at times. This is of course how Salah started last season and we all know what happened afterwards, and if feels like it could only take a magical Salah goal to spring him back to his best. However, performances like Salah’s against PSG need small consequences, and so he should be dropped for the Southampton game on Saturday, with Xherdan Shaqiri taking his place.

Wijnaldum and Milner operating at new levels…

Due to injuries and suspensions, PSG’s midfield consisted of Rabiot, a centre-back in Marquinhos and an attacker in Di Maria. A midfield that unbalanced deserves to be on the losing side, and Liverpool’s midfield trio made sure they came out on top in the match’s key battle and the final result. Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner were key parts of this, and the pair are surely playing the best football they have ever done in their careers. Wijnaldum thrives in the big matches at Anfield, and his technical ability and calmness really comes to the fore in such encounters. He combined with Milner for Liverpool’s second goal – the Dutchman winning the penalty which the Englishman then scored. As for Milner, his tackle on Neymar in the opening exchanges epitomised the home side’s dominance and effectiveness of pressing. It truly is astounding how well Milner is playing, and any doubts over his ability to play twice in four days was put to bed with ease. Both Milner and Wijnaldum are nailed on starters at the moment, and they have been integral to the Reds winning six games out of six thus far.

Henderson and Sturridge prove pre-match doubters wrong…

I will be the first to admit that I was not filled with confidence by seeing Jordan Henderson’s and Sturridge’s names in the starting XI, with many Liverpool supporters particularly disappointed that it was Sturridge and not Shaqiri who was given Firmino’s place in the team. Both Henderson and Sturridge answered any critics though, and once again proved that Klopp’s decisions should be trusted. Henderson was excellent in midfield as he joined Milner and Wijnaldum in closing down every PSG shirt in sight and made important tackles and interceptions to prevent PSG from gathering momentum. Meanwhile, Sturridge headed Liverpool into the lead in the first half and will be annoyed he didn’t come away with a hat-trick after missing two great chances in the second half. In a game where one misplaced pass can lead to you conceding goal, the striker was sensible with possession and offered the required technical ability in key moments and positions. Sturridge looked fitter than he has been for a long time and showcased the strength in depth that Klopp now has at his disposal.

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