Another unnecessarily nervy ending to a game we largely dominated. We’re making a bit of a habit of conceding every game despite the opposition creating very little. A win is a win, though, and it sees us move to the top of the group after Napoli drew with Salzburg. You’ve always got to be happy with three points, especially when key players were left out of the starting line up to keep them fresh for the weekend. Having said that, let’s look at how the individual players performed.
I’m going to have to say it again – Alisson had very little to do and stood no chance with the goal. He made a couple of smart saves, pushing the ball away from the danger zone, but there were no heroic stops required. It appears that, although we’re not conceding too many chances, the ones we do allow are very difficult to miss.
Onto the defence and it was a changed back four to those who started against Aston Villa. Gomez came in for Lovren and Milner for Robertson. You could tell that both Englishmen were not entirely comfortable, perhaps for differing reasons. Milner was forced to play at left-back where, although you know he’ll do his very best, it is not ideal for him or the team. Having a slow, right-footed midfielder playing there instead of Robertson is very different, to say the least. As for Gomez, he just hasn’t been up to it this season so far and tonight was the same. He was caught out of position numerous times and looks a completely different player to the one who was so excellent for much of the 2018/19 campaign.
In midfield, we saw Fabinho, Keita and Wijnaldum start the game. Naby didn’t have his best performance last week against Arsenal, but against Genk he was much better. The Guinean just gives the team something that no other player in the squad can. His eye for a pass and ability to beat a man are a joy to watch. He may not have absolutely dazzled tonight, but he had a solid outing. With Fabinho and Keita next to him, Gini Wijnaldum had a bit more license to attack and he showed that by scoring the opening goal in the 14th minute. It is imperative that our midfielders begin to both score and create goals and take some of the pressure off of the front 3. We know that the Dutchman is capable of being a regular goal-scorer as he is always at it with his national team – he needs to be doing it more for his club, so it was great to see him find the back of the net.
In attack, both Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane got given a rest and were left on the bench. In their place came Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Mo Salah starting alongside them. Salah played the majority of the game on the right with Origi on the left, leaving Oxlade-Chamberlain through the middle. Origi missed a very good chance late-on in the first half but other than that played reasonably well. Salah looked sharp for the majority of the game but just couldn’t find the finishing touch and grab himself a goal. However, he did provide an assist for the man I’m going to give Man of the Match – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox found the net once again, his third in two games against Genk and it was another lovely strike. On the edge of the box, on the turn, he drilled a left-footed effort into the bottom-right-hand corner. He looked incredibly sharp and put in arguably his best performance since his return from injury. The pure pace and power that he exerts is too much for any team to handle and here’s hoping he will go on to play a vital role this season.