The Reds maintained their current run of good form with an almost routine victory at Brighton who had not lost at home since the opening day against front runners Manchester City. First half goals from Emre Can and Roberto Firmino set Liverpool on their way before Firmino added a second after the break along with two further goals from Philippe Coutinho. All in all it was another fantastic display by the Reds but what did we learn from this impressive rout?
Coutinho Bounces Back
I think it is fair to say that Coutinho had been in sub par form by his own lofty standards of late. He was left out completely from the midweek win at Stoke after being fairly anonymous against Chelsea over the previous weekend. The little magician roared back with a vengeance this afternoon though in spectacular fashion. He scored two (one may have been an own goal off the always unfortunate Lewis Dunk) and he played a part in every other goal in what was a masterful display of playmaking by our talented Brazilian.
The team is flying at the moment but at the end of the day we will go as far as Coutinho can carry us especially in the big games. There is good reason why Barcelona wanted him in particular, he can be that influential and he is that integral to how we play and today was an important sign that he is again approaching his best form once again.
Klopp Shows Tactical Flexibility
Jurgen Klopp faced somewhat of a crisis this week when it was discovered that Joel Matip would miss a month through injury while Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez were both unavailable to start today’s encounter. This left the resurgent Dejan Lovren as the only recognized centre half in the squad. No need to panic though as Klopp set the team up in a back three with Lovren curiously flanked by midfielders Can and Gini Wijnaldum. It seemed a desperation move to many prior to kick off but ye of little faith…
I wouldn’t want to play this way every week of course but it worked like a charm today with Jordan Henderson and James Milner taking turns patrolling in front of our newly formed trio everything was for the most part solid. It may not have been the obvious solution to the problem but it was perfect for the situation today. Well done Boss.
Salah Is Human
I have enjoyed Mo Salah’s form as much as anyone. However, we still need to be realistic in the grander scheme of things. The Egyptian is most likely still the signing of the summer already but all this talk of Salah being up there with the best players in the league needs to be dialed back just a little. I mean let’s be honest he’s not even the most important player in our team. That is a title jointly held in my opinion by Sadio Mané and Phil Coutinho with Firmino, Salah and Adam Lallana close behind.
Salah actually missed a couple of chances today. Chances that had been going in of late, and that’s fine. Eventually over the course of a season form will balance out. There will undoubtedly be times when Salah won’t be able to hit a barn door for weeks at a time. Will he then become useless? Of course not but we need to see the bigger picture in both a positive and negative sense. For now though let’s enjoy every minute of the Mo Salah all conquering form!
Save Percentage Means Very Little
There have been statistics doing the rounds on Twitter about how Simon Mignolet has one of the worst save percentages in the Premier League. Incredibly people have been using this as a reason why the Belgian shouldn’t be our number one keeper. The absurdity of this assumption cannot easily be put into words but i’ll have a go. There have been very few goals we have conceded this season where you can honestly point the finger at Mignolet and say he should have kept that one out. If the attacking player does enough with their shot, a keeper realistically doesn’t have much of a chance if any to stop it.
For example today Migs had a 50% save percentage off just two shots on target by Brighton. One was a game changing brilliant save, and the other was a well taken penalty by Glen Murray. Three weeks down the line we could look back at that statistic and suggest ludicrously that we conceded a goal off only 2 shots on target when of course statistics don’t tell the whole story.
This is not ice hockey where goalies are almost defined by their save percentage alone. There are just too many factors at play to suggest this can be used as the only attack on Mignolet. I for one am incredibly pleased with his form this season and long may it continue.
Henderson Remains Under appreciated
Once again, our captain has become the scape goat. There’s rarely discussion of the fact that Henderson has sacrificed his own personal gain to play in a position that he isn’t as familiar with to benefit the team. A position where he is far more likely to be exploited or appear exposed. It is fair to say still that holding midfield is a position we badly need more depth in. However, that is no reason to constantly berate Henderson who is by far the best option we have.
It seems that certain individuals are criticizing the skipper for all his sideway passes. Well let me make a small observation here but in a team that contains a multitude of game changing players, surely it is in our interest to work the ball safely to them and let those players dictate the game for us. Hendo has proven in the past that he has a very creative side to his game but he is holding that back in reserve because his current role demands that he keeps possession on a consistent basis. We aren’t asking him to be that playmaker and yet many seem to be attacking for that exact reason. When he does occasionally try a defense splitting pass and it doesn’t come off, the haters come out again. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
I suppose there are always those who want to find something to complain about…
Referees Make Strange Decisions
Well I’ve watched the Henderson “challenge” on Shane Duffy several times now from many different angles and I still can’t quite comprehend how the referee gave it as a penalty. He seemingly wasn’t even consulted by his assistant, he was always almost embarrassingly confident in his decision. So much so that nobody seemed to be quite sure what was going on. Thankfully, it mattered little in the end but for a team that has worked hard to stop conceding goals on such a regular basis it is always disappointing not to get that clean sheet they clearly deserved on the day.
It wasn’t a day for the pessimists in the end. It was another day to enjoy and savour. A second win away from home in a week for the Reds at two grounds that have caused plenty of problems for opposing teams already this season. The fixtures keep coming thick and fast though, none more so than the crucial Champions League decider against Spartak Moscow. The form has been coming on slowly but surely for weeks now (I always said it would!), and the patience has paid off. Let’s keep on pushing on from here and really consolidate our ever growing stronger position in the league table. Another great weekend Reds!