It was unnerving watching Liverpool against Derby but not in the way Liverpool fans have come to expect when facing lower league opposition. It was a professional job by the Reds. There weren’t many, if any, scares defensively, there was no complacency from anybody in the team and, in the end, it was an assured 3-0 victory. This isn’t what we, as Liverpool fans, are used to.
In the past, these have been the matches we make hard work of and aren’t shy when it comes to the prospect of extra-time. Yet there were no signs of that. It was, dare I say it, comfortable.
There were plenty of positives to be taken from the game and the only negative was the fact it was only a 3-0 scoreline.
A composed backline – I couldn’t believe my eyes. Liverpool were passing the ball around in their defensive third and not once was my heart in my mouth. Karius and Co all seemed assured with the ball at their feet. Nothing felt rushed or unnatural and I know Derby aren’t the most intense of teams but they did press us. I was calm watching and the players were calm on the pitch. It was an enjoyable experience.
Confident ‘Keeper – Loris Karius made his competitive debut for Liverpool tonight and although he wasn’t really tested, he had an impact on the team. He has an air of confidence about him and the defence seemed to feed off of that. Used the ball well with his feet, was a passing option for the defence when necessary, had a high starting position which allowed the defence to squeeze Derby up the field and was able to sweep in behind to quell any danger. Exactly what he did when Darren Bent raced through towards the end of the first half, the fact he was able to clear that was down to his high starting position.
Fluid attack – Liverpool were without Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane yet looked as potent as ever with a fluid, interchangeable attack which was dragging the Derby defence all over the pitch. The home side tried to adopt a Burnley like tactic but the gulf in class was evident, aided by the early first goal Liverpool were able to create countless chances with the clever movement of the front three and the Coutinho goal just epitomised it. While Origi wasn’t directly involved with the goal it was his movement that created the opening for Coutinho to run into to receive the Firmino pass. Just really positive to see.
Emre Can is back – The German looked rusty but it’s expected after not playing since the Burton match coupled with the fact he didn’t have a proper pre-season. He made a few good passes but looked way off what we’ve come to expect from him. Having him back is huge for midfield though, the sooner he’s back to his best the better.