Lessons Learned: Title Contenders Battle it Out For a Point

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Reds’ Resilience Tested

Another big team visits Anfield and comes away with a point in the same week. This was a better point than against United, but truth be told, you still had that ‘what if’ feeling after Trent’s miss in the second half. Jurgen Klopp got the atmosphere that he wanted, and there were real positives for some to take from this encounter. However, there are a few recurring issues for this current Liverpool side and with AFCON, the Pacific Cup, and a growing injury list, it’s understandable there might be a few Reds slightly nervous going into the next few weeks and 2024. We look at the lessons learned from the 1-1 all draw which means Liverpool will be one point off top at Christmas.

Liverpool, England, 23rd December 2023. Mohamed Salah of Liverpool r celebrates scoring the equalising goal 1-1 during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture credit should read: Darren Staples / Sportimage EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. SPI-2829-0035

Big Moments from Key Players

If there’s two players that you’d have down as potentially making the difference for Liverpool, then most would name Mo Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold in there. That was the combination for Liverpool’s opening goal as an exquisite ball down the right-hand channel from Trent saw Mo cut inside Zinchenko and bury one past Raya in his typical style. The same pairing had the opportunity to win it for the Reds later on, but with the roles reversed, it was the Scouser in the team who fluffed his lines and rattled the bar with the goal at his mercy. The ball did take a slight bobble, but you’d still expect him to finish. Probably the one that will haunt us from the highlights.

Photo: IMAGO

Defensive Resilience and Skill

As well as giving notable mentions to Arsenal’s centre-back pairing of Saliba and Gabriel, it was those in defensive roles for the Reds who really shone. The captain was imperious again, and his full backs either side, including Joe Gomez as a replacement left-back, all could be proud of their efforts. However, it seems almost criminal that Ibou Konate didn’t take home the man of the match award. It’s hard to remember a better performance from the French defender in red, to be honest, as he stopped Martinelli and Jesus at key moments and produced blocks and tackles of real quality. Maybe responding to all the Saliba talk as a reminder to Didier Deschamps.

Concerns in Attack

Anyone but Mo Salah. Who’d have thought that’s the phrase we’d use that would fit concerns about players in the forward positions right now. Many were surprised that Darwin didn’t get a start on the left-hand side, and to be fair, in his cameo, he offered more than those who started. Luis Diaz came off with an injury to his knee, but his form for some time now is of real concern for most Reds and even a rest or run in the team appears to make little difference. Cody Gakpo didn’t do much in midweek against West Ham but scored a good goal. Here, it was just the first part. The Dutch forward plays as though he’s half his actual size and in these big games, not good enough again.

Substitutions: Mixed Impact

Gomez for Tsimikas was necessitated by a serious injury, and we wish Kostas well. Diaz had an injury to his knee, but in truth, both he and Gakpo were lucky to play that long as both were again largely ineffective for the majority of the game. Crucially though, Liverpool lost all control when Curtis Jones left the proceedings, and Gravenberch came on, Szoboszlai seemed an obvious choice as he was exhausted by the 70th minute and in keeping with recent performances, the Dutchman’s performance looked pretty abject and struggled with every aspect. Those slower on the uptake have realised the importance of Jones’ role for this side. Klopp may privately regret giving him the full 90 midweek, in honesty.

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