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Ajax 0 Liverpool 1 (Oct 22 2020)

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Report by
Dave Usher

 

Far from perfect but on the whole that was just what we needed. We rarely tend to look great in Champions League away games even at the best of times, especially in the group stages, so I’m not bothered that we made slightly hard work of it. In fact, being able to grind out a scrappy one like this is probably more beneficial to us in the long term than a spanking four or five goal win would have been.

 

Put simply it was a test and we passed. This was an important game for us after a torrid few days and the players came through it well. Specifically, the lads at the back charged with filling the giant void left by Virgil really stood up strong. Fabinho and Gomez were both really good and delivered just the kind of performance we needed.

 

Between those two and ol’ Big Bird we can get by until January as long as they can stay fit (seems unlikely in Matip’s case but you never know). Of course we’ll miss Virgil but everyone now needs to do their bit to make up for his loss. The forwards need to be on their pressing game all the time (not just in the high profile games), the midfielders need to be filling gaps and denying space in front of the back four and the defenders need to concentrate more than ever before.

 

In recent months there hasn’t been enough of any of that. Not consistently anyway. We’ve looked great in some games and then sloppy as shit in others. I mostly put it down to the lack of fans but that’s not going to change any time soon so we need to get over that quickly. 

 

And we’ve now got to cope without our most influential player so who knows, maybe that will help them focus better. If they all work together they can get by, but if any area of the team isn’t bang at it then the back four aren’t going to be able to deal with any sustained pressure. We were conceding far too many goals even with Virgil, so maybe now he isn’t there the rest of the team will realise they can’t afford to be at anything less than their best.

 

I thought the concentration levels were mostly good in this game. There were a couple of wobbles (Adrian grrrrrrrr) and some bad moments that came from us losing the ball cheaply. *glares angrily at Firmino*

 

So Ajax had a few chances and we were by no means water tight but I don’t think it’s going over the top to say we defended well. Or is it? Maybe I’m reading too much into it and Ajax were a bit shit, but I was fairly pleased with how we defended. Certainly as a back four anyway.

 

I dunno, we’ll see how things shake out but this was a good start and the more clean sheets we get the less people will talk about what we don’t have and maybe start appreciating what we do still have. We've still got the best team in the land even without Virgil, although obviously the gap has now closed between us and City.

 

 

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The Firmino thing isn't a question of playing him through bad form, it's a question of profile. Jota isn't seen as a like for like Firmino replacement, so if Klopp threw him in there and Salah or Mané played up top instead, the dynamic of the team would change because Firmino plays behind the two wingers and that's not really what you want Mané or Salah to be doing. Unless Klopp is fine with the shape changing, he won't be doing that. It's interesting though, because Jota is really knocking on the door.

 

Minamino looked sharp, and if there's a player who could grab Firmino's spot and keep the shape of the team as it usually is, it would be him. Maybe we'll see that at some point.

 

Adrian was terrible again. Besides saving a 1v1, which he's actually good at, it was painful. Gomez was befuddled when he came out for that ball early on. It just can't last with him. Alisson needs to be fit for the rest of the season when he comes back, it's the most critical thing.

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Good point about Allison, Dave. Ive not known a top keeper pick up so many injuries. You just wonder what sort of training we do when our own players can injure our number 1?

 

I missed that first couple of minutes incident with Joe and Adrian but caught it on the replay. That's all on Joe in my opinion. He's got to take the decision there and trying to shield the ball back to the keeper right on the edge of the box was just asking for trouble. Anything could happen, the striker could have stuck a leg out, the keeper could have fallen out of the box holding the ball. Just get rid.

 

There would have been nothing Adrian could have done on that goal if Fab had of missed it. I agree he does take a bit too long clearing the ball. There was one were he pushed it a bit too far infront of him and an Ajax player got a bit too close.

 

van Dijk is a massive loss but Hendo is the most influential player in our team for me. We wouldnt have lost 7 goals to Villa if he'd been in the team.

 

Bet Rhys Williams thinks it's Christmas every day right now, Kidderminster to Liverpool's Champions league team!

 

It wasnt a game easy on the eye. It was clearly a ground out result as they. I dont think Ajax really troubled us and I agree, with better finishing we'd have won that by 3 or 4 goals.

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I have found myself wondering whether the loss of Van Dijk will - while not quite be a blessing in disguise - be compensated in other ways by the rest of the team showing a bit more focus and aggression now that they know the best CB on the planet isn't behind them to cover for it.

 

It reminds me a bit of some cricket matches when teams pack their order with all-rounders to shore up the batting, and an element of "fuck it, we bat deep, somebody else will cover if I get out cheaply" that subconsciously creeps in, and the team doesn't score many more runs than they otherwise would have. If the team picks just six batsmen then those players know that it's on them, there's no back up if they fuck up, so the subconscious focus is right there.

 

Klopp seemed happy with the mentality. Structurally we've defended better, but there was a bit of scrap and digging in which makes me hopeful we'll be alright after a bit of fine tuning.

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7 minutes ago, dockers_strike said:

Good point about Allison, Dave. Ive not known a top keeper pick up so many injuries. You just wonder what sort of training we do when our own players can injure our number 1?

 

I missed that first couple of minutes incident with Joe and Adrian but caught it on the replay. That's all on Joe in my opinion. He's got to take the decision there and trying to shield the ball back to the keeper right on the edge of the box was just asking for trouble. Anything could happen, the striker could have stuck a leg out, the keeper could have fallen out of the box holding the ball. Just get rid.

 

There would have been nothing Adrian could have done on that goal if Fab had of missed it. I agree he does take a bit too long clearing the ball. There was one were he pushed it a bit too far infront of him and an Ajax player got a bit too close.

 

van Dijk is a massive loss but Hendo is the most influential player in our team for me. We wouldnt have lost 7 goals to Villa if he'd been in the team.

 

Bet Rhys Williams thinks it's Christmas every day right now, Kidderminster to Liverpool's Champions league team!

 

It wasnt a game easy on the eye. It was clearly a ground out result as they. I dont think Ajax really troubled us and I agree, with better finishing we'd have won that by 3 or 4 goals.

No chance - Gomez was dealing with the situation and was about to turn to play a pass to the keeper - who should have been ready to receive the ball in his penalty area and switch the play out to the other wing. 

Adrian had absolutely no business charging out and tacking in his own player there - the only thing wrong with what happened is Gomez didnt go berserk at him. 

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Adrian is a ticking time bomb, he had ages to clear that ball and ended up with the rebound fortunately going wide. He has clearly been told to hoof it up as he has since Villa but he still takes risks. Don't trust him at all.

 

Gomez deserves credit for stepping up, Fab, rightly, got all the plaudits, but Joe took responsibility. Obviously it needs to continue for months.

 

Trent is the other whose form has dipped significantly this year, I like the fact he is using his weaker foot much more (take note Mo) but he's not been near his best. 

 

However, this was a night to take the result as you said. Time on the pitch for the squad is good too but let's get the points and then have an easier finish to the group, something which we seemingly never do. 

Big night it felt like to me.

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I though we defended well - very well in the circumstances - as Ajax are no mugs and we always seem to start off half-arsed in the group stages. I didn't think our midfield press was very good until Hendo came on and Milner got better second half so the defence had quite a bit to deal with. Gini was good throughout though. 

 

I reckon Jota looks quality but while he looks really quick over the first 10-20 yards he looked slower over a longer distance. Either way he deserves to be starting games although I think he'll have to wait until the next group game for a start. 

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Spot on Dave, as usual ! Robbo is so good, he’s a bit underrated because of Trent who’s more under the flash light.

 

I agree that was the right win, battling for it.

 

Jota has a great potential, he’s so good so fast, he just needs to work on his decision making !

 

We also benefit from the non exit of Wijnaldum. We need him, sign him up bon sang !

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4 hours ago, bigal said:

Adrian is a ticking time bomb, he had ages to clear that ball and ended up with the rebound fortunately going wide. He has clearly been told to hoof it up as he has since Villa but he still takes risks. Don't trust him at all.

 

Gomez deserves credit for stepping up, Fab, rightly, got all the plaudits, but Joe took responsibility. Obviously it needs to continue for months.

 

Trent is the other whose form has dipped significantly this year, I like the fact he is using his weaker foot much more (take note Mo) but he's not been near his best. 

 

However, this was a night to take the result as you said. Time on the pitch for the squad is good too but let's get the points and then have an easier finish to the group, something which we seemingly never do. 

Big night it felt like to me.

Yup, I am ot sure why he isn't talked about more. He has been almost in Firmino territory, bad bad dip in form. He is only young, so he'll get back to his best, but he is a worry, I agree.

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Always think Trent is a slow starter, like Gomez. Takes a while to find his feet. Thought he was back in the Arse game but he’s tailed off. Just gotta play him back into form as Neko isn’t the answer at the moment. Saying that, imagine Neko to get a run out on Tuesday, certainly not tomorrow. 

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