Talking Points: Liverpool 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

Liverpool rediscovered their scoring touch as they put four goals past Red Star Belgrade in a comfortable win at Anfield. A brace from Mo Salah as well as strikes from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane saw the Reds take all three points.

Fabinho – the search is over…

While it was only against Red Star, Fabinho’s performance on Wednesday night drew huge amounts of praise for the Brazilian, and from the early signs, it seems that the Reds’ search for a Javier Mascherano replacement has finally come to an end. After a couple of nervy moments early on, Fabinho made 9 tackles and won 18 duels in the match, and these phenomenal numbers represent just how good he was defensively. The few times he gave the ball away, it was probably only so he could win it back again. Jürgen Klopp, as he did with Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, has taken his time to embed Fabinho into the side, and it seems as if the German has got it spot on once again as Fabinho is clearly benefitting from not being thrown in at the deep end. It was also not just defensively that Fabinho impressed, but his range of passing is also excellent, and most importantly progressive and direct. A good chunk of his passes were to the Reds’ front three, which is also a good sign. There will be tougher tests to come for the Brazilian, of course, but for now, Klopp needs to keep him in the side.

Shaqiri the creative and undroppable linchpin…

Speaking of being kept in the side, Xherdan Shaqiri is also undoubtedly in the undroppable category, as he was once again sublime against Red Star. The Alpine Messi is providing the creative spark that Liverpool have missed since Coutinho’s departure and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury, as well as the vital link between the attack and the midfield. Shaqiri played a brilliant pass into Robertson to set-up the Reds’ opener, and then assisted Mo Salah to make it 2-0. The Swiss international is the kind of player who will put his foot on the ball, get his head up and look to create – exactly what this side needs. Deployed on the right-wing in the game, he is also comfortable drifting into more central areas where he is equally as dangerous and effective. For around £13m, Shaqiri is already looking like one of the best bargains of the summer, and his performances of late have seen him single-handedly trying to drag this Liverpool attack back into form. A midfield three of Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Shaqiri could well be the way forwards for Klopp’s team.

Much-needed confidence boost for attacking trio…

The last time Salah, Mane and Firmino were all on the scoresheet was when the Reds defeated Roma 5-2 at Anfield at the end of last season. That was pretty much the perfect attacking display, and while the one against Red Star wasn’t as good, we finally saw signs of Liverpool’s formidable trident getting back to their best. Firmino took his goal extremely well, as did Salah for his first before stepping up to calmly dispatch the Reds’ first penalty. Mane was denied from the spot by a brilliant save, but did get his goal moments later – the relief on his face clear for all to see. There were still times when the trio over-complicated things and attacks broke down as a result, but when the neat flicks and one-touch passing was being pulled out, you could sense the confidence returning. A match against Cardiff on Saturday represents another great opportunity for the trio to score more goals, and continue their road back to their best.

Group C cards falling in Reds’ favour… 

After the late defeat to Napoli in matchday two, it was pivotal Liverpool returned to winning ways against Red Star. With the knowledge that at least one of PSG or Napoli would be dropping points, the Reds could put themselves in a good position, which they did. Angel Di Maria’s late equaliser saw the game in Paris end 2-2, and the Reds return to the top of Group C. Despite the intense atmosphere that Red Star will be able to drum up at home, Klopp’s side must go there and win, and in doing so could extend their lead at the top of the group. When the draw was made, many supporters would have been happy just qualifying from the group, but with the potential opponents that could lie in wait in the Last 16 if the Reds only come second, topping the group needs to be a priority. With a match against Napoli at Anfield still to come, Liverpool very much hold their destiny in their own hands.

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