Premier League football is back and in turn, the Reds. After an impactful 4-0 win on opening day, here’s The Anfield Talk’s Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) with the winners and losers.
WINNER: Naby Keita
Quite possibly the biggest winner from the weekend has to be Naby Keita, who has most certainly arrived in the Premier League. There’s a repeated sentiment that Keita will bring to Liverpool exactly what Manchester United expected from Paul Pogba, and that, at the risk of sounding like everyone else you’ve talked to, is entirely correct.
Everything he does on the ball looks so easy. He is smooth, and quaint on the ball, his touch is sublime and every single time he gets the ball his instinctive reaction is to look up and find some way to damage the opposition.
Whether it be picking a killer pass, or bringing the ball forward from deep in midfield to be able to set the wheels in motion for a Liverpool goal, Naby Keita really does revolutionise his midfield position. We know from his time in Leipzig that he can crop up with goals too. Something that we’ve not had the pleasure of witnessing yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
With the wait for Keita to become a Liverpool player, fans had the opportunity to get very, VERY excited before his arrival at Anfield. What makes him the biggest winner from the game this past weekend is the fact that he’s met the hype and if anything, surpassed it.
LOSER: Dejan Lovren
No matter what has actually happened in regard to Dejan Lovren, whether he has faked an injury to get some extra time off or if he’s purposefully not told Liverpool about his injury to prevent a replacement signing, the fact of the matter is Dejan Lovren won’t be playing in Red for at least the next couple of weeks.
That will be doubled down by the fact that in Lovren’s absence, Joe Gomez enjoyed a fantastic game at centre-half partnering Virgil van Dijk. Helping in gaining Liverpool a clean sheet in their first game of the season, a stark contrast to the 3-3 draw with Watford that opened the season a year ago.
Quiet game but clean sheet, cool as a cucumber and having a goalkeeper like that is all I’ve dreamt about for the last four years.
WINNER: Sadio Mane
New number? Same old Sadio.
Sadio Mane picked up from exactly where he left off last season firing in two goals against West Ham, even if one was definitely offside. Both of his goals were taken extremely well and it goes to show that Liverpool are a multi-faceted attack. We’re not and honestly, were never a one-man team.
Mane just oozes attack prowess. Every time he gets the ball there’s a fear that consumes defences and it’s quite honestly, beautiful.
LOSER: The entirety of the West Ham defence
Looking more tactically at the game, it’s plain and obvious how Liverpool were afforded so much space entering the final third. The West Ham defence was completely off kilter.
The biggest issue was a sort of incoherency between the players in the Hammers’ back four. They constantly seemed in two minds about everything they were doing and on the rare occasions that they were able to get on the same page, the midfield was doing something completely different leaving all of the space ahead of them exposed.
This is a great example, as Milner goes to play the pass to Mane, Fabian Balbuena, who’s just joined West Ham from Corinthians, takes a step out towards Firmino, who’s moving into the space. Leaving Angelo Ogbonna to deal with the run of Mane.
Does Ogbonna deal with Mane’s run? Absolutely not. He’s too far away to even think about it and he doesn’t even move. All the play needed was bit more of a touch from Sadio Mane and it’s 1-0 there.
WINNER: Andy Robertson
If there was one Liverpool player that has picked up straight from his end of season form, it’s Andy Robertson. The insanely talented Scottish left-back got himself an assist for the first goal, but had a hand in most of Liverpool’s flowing attacking movements.
Him and Naby Keita seem to have developed a bit of an on field connection in the very first game of the season. Combining a few times during the 90 minutes to create danger for the West Ham defence.
In fact, it’s that combination that allowed Mo Salah to put Liverpool ahead in the game, and it all resulted in the Egyptian King scoring… again.
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