Dull, drab, boring…
Three words to describe today’s derby day goalless draw. Whilst the game itself was rather boring and a distinct lack of stand-out chances for the Reds, there were several talking points from the match ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester City.
Gini Wijnaldum the number ‘6’
Despite Jordan Henderson being in the side, Gini Wijnaldum took up the ‘so called’ ‘6’ position this afternoon and won Man of the Match, and it was an away game! There is no doubt Klopp trialled this with Tuesday in mind as both Henderson and Can are absent leaving LFC without a natural defensive midfielder. Gini did excellently in the ‘6’ and it may be something Klopp tries more often. The Dutchman completed the most passes on the pitch (76) and had a final pass accuracy of 94% whilst seeming very composed in the number 6 role throughout. Prior to today’s performance, I was worried about the number 6 role going into the second leg against City but Gini’s performance today filled me with confidence that Wijnaldum is capable of doing a more than competent job in that role.
James Milner impresses again
James Milner is quite possibly one of the best free transfers in the history of football. The 32- year old is one of the most underrated players in the league and is in fine form of late. On Wednesday night, Milner equalled the record number of assists in a Champions League campaign with 8 in an outstanding performance against Manchester City and today, Milner excelled once more. His passing and creativity is sublime and his diversity adds more to him as a player. The Englishman played the whole of last season as a left back constantly keeping Moreno out of the side but has a lot more influence in this preferred central midfield position that he has occupied again this season. He was brilliant today, provided the creativity on the attack and forced a very good save from Jordan Pickford in the first half. With Gareth Southgate watching on from the stands once more, the England manager will be gutted that he isn’t able to select James Milner in the world cup squad this year.
Clyne back from his injury
Nathaniel Clyne appeared for the first time this season after being absent for a long period with a back injury and managed 90 minutes. It was a good performance from Clyne who played as if he’s been around all season and didn’t appear to lose energy despite it being the first time he’s featured all season. The 27-year old who celebrated his birthday on Thursday, faces competition for the right-back spot from 19 year old Trent Alexander-Arnold who was terrific against Manchester City in midweek earning Man of the match for his performance. Some say he only let Sane out his pocket this morning.
Karius shines again
Loris Karius has been brilliant since Klopp named him as his first choice and was rewarded with yet another clean sheet today. The German was forced to make a brilliant save in the first half from a Yannick Bolasie, a save that had it been De Gea who made it, all the back pages would be dedicated to him tomorrow. Karius’ clean sheet today means that he has now kept 13 clean sheets in his last 22 games. Only Hugo Lloris has more clean sheets than the 24 year old in 2018. There has been rumours in the last few months that Liverpool will splash the cash on Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker in the summer, but Karius’ recent performances may have changed this. Having Van Dijk in front of him seems to have helped the German with the Dutchman being vocal at the back, his guidance may have helped.
Will Salah and Robertson be fit for Tuesday?
Both Salah and Robertson weren’t in the squad today amid injury concerns. An injury crisis has hit the Reds at a bad time with a very important game in midweek. Klopp claimed before the game that both Salah and Robertson should be ready for City in midweek but whether they will be fit enough to start remains unanswered. It would be a huge blow if either of them can’t start as both players played a pivotal role in the Reds’ 3-0 victory against Man City last week. Liverpool have been hit with a bit of an injury crisis this week as Gomez was injured on international duty before Joel Matip was ruled out for the season along with a back injury for Emre Can which has left it unclear as to whether he will play in a Liverpool shirt again. Salah and Robertson have been key players for Liverpool all season so they’d be missed if they don’t manage to get back to full fitness for Tuesday.
Article by Jack Gill
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