Given what was at stake, Liverpool’s 0-2 capitulation at Red Star Belgrade on Thursday was wholly unacceptable. We could have made life so much easier for ourselves in a Champions League group which also contains PSG and Napoli. Qualification, with a game or two to spare, would have been a fantastic achievement, and a real bonus ahead of the tough festive schedule.
Respect is a word that, while uttered a lot, means very little in modern football. But respect was as clear as day on Saturday when Liverpool and Arsenal played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Emirates.
It may have only been for a brief while, but Liverpool went top of the Premier League table on Saturday night after demolishing Cardiff City 4-1. Goals from Mo Salah, Sadio Mane (x2) and Xherdan Shaqiri were enough to get the job done against the Bluebirds, and we rose to the summit of the league before Manchester City leapfrogged us once more – by goal difference only, mind you – after beating Spurs on Monday evening.
Even the most pessimistic of Liverpool FC supporters would not have expected us to come unstuck against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Wednesday. As such, the convincing 4-0 victory barely raised an eyebrow.
“It is the first period in my life that we can win average matches,” Jurgen Klopp said immediately after Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Huddersfield on Saturday. Boy, he’s not wrong either.
The dangers of the international break to club sides have been laid bare this week as the queue for the Liverpool treatment room gets even longer. Mo Salah injured himself while scoring direct form a corner for Egypt – sometimes, the luck really isn’t with you, and the thigh strain suffered has kept him out of training until Thursday, when he is rumoured to be returning to the fray.
You would have to go back months – years even – to find the last time that Liverpool failed to register a single shot on target in a football match. But that’s exactly what happened in Naples on Tuesday, when the Reds toiled to a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Napoli in the Champions League.
Two games in the space of three days against Chelsea have served up frustration and food for thought in equal measure for Jurgen Klopp. While defeat in the Carabao Cup perhaps isn’t the end of the world – we have bigger fish to fry this season, the absorbing 1-1 draw against the Blues on Saturday in the league highlighted that we may still have another step up in class to make if we want to genuinely challenge for the title.
Once the dust has settled, there is no great harm to being knocked out of the Carabao Cup at such an early juncture. Less games means more focus can be applied to a league and European assault, and ultimately that can only be a good thing for Liverpool Football Club.
If Saturday’s match against Southampton had been a boxing match, Mark Hughes would have thrown the towel in at half time to prevent his fighters taking any more punishment. We romped into a 3-0 lead at the break courtesy of goals from Joel Matip, Mo Salah and an own goal from Wes Hoedt, and it could have perhaps been more.