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.
Creating chances is a doddle for this Reds side, but actually putting the ball in the net is another matter entirely. We have to be more clinical in front of goal if we want to maintain the pressure on Manchester City all season long.
Arguably the worst culprit at the Bridge was Mo Salah, who had three decent opportunities to get on the scoresheet. The Egyptian was unable to capitalise, however, and was subbed off after an hour.
Much will be made of his slow start to the campaign, but let’s be realistic: he was never going to be able to match last season’s 44-goal heroics.
It does highlight the need for goalscoring support from other quarters, mind you, which is why it was so pleasing to see Daniel Sturridge notch his second goal off the week to earn us a point at the Bridge.
Following midweek’s impudent scissors kick, this time the former England man curled home a stunning long range effort that left Chelsea keeper Kepa with no chance. His injury woes are clear for all to see, but Sturridge’s importance to this Liverpool squad may well reveal itself in the coming weeks and months.
All in all, a draw at Chelsea isn’t a bad result; even if you’ve done enough to win the game.
“We had chances and we played fantastic football. I love to win, but getting a point at Chelsea is good anyway,” Klopp said afterwards. “I know we deserved that point at least so I’m happy with that.”
Our Champions League adventure continues this week with a potentially tricky trip to Italy to take on Napoli. They may have lost their manager and a selection of key players in the summit, but the Naples-based outfit will still provide a stern test of our credentials.
Liverpool Team News
The eleven that started Saturday’s game against Chelsea is near to being Klopp’s perfect side for tough, away trips.
The double-pivot of James Milner and Jordan Henderson adds steel and protection in front of the back four, and allows the full backs to join in on counter-attacking raids.
The manager must decide whether to stick with Joe Gomez at centre back, bring in the player who seems to be his preferred option, Joel Matip, or opt for the big match experience of Dejan Lovren ahead of Wednesday’s game. It seems likely that Matip will get the nod.
To support Milner and Henderson in midfield, it might just be Naby Keita who gets the starting berth. His pace and direct running style can help turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye.
The usual front three will start up top, with Sturridge ready and waiting on the bench.
Napoli suffered their second Serie A defeat in five games at the weekend: going down 1-3 to a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Juventus.
They have shipped 10 goals in 13 league starts, and clearly there is an opportunity to exploit here for the Reds.
The Italians opened their Champions League Group C account with a 0-0 draw at Red Star Belgrade.
Napoli vs Liverpool Betting Tips
There’s a feeling that Napoli aren’t quite the side who pushed Juventus so hard in 2017/08.
Maurizio Sarri has left, taking Jorginho with him to Chelsea, while first-choice keeper Pepe Reina has also departed for AC Milan.
The Naples outfit do have quality – messrs Mertens, Insigne, Milik and Hamsik is an elite attacking quartet, but so far this term their performances have lacked cohesion.
They failed to even make it out of their Champions League group last season, losing four of six matches played, and you get the sense they might be flat track bullies: capable of demolishing low-class sides in Serie A, but struggle when put up against the best in the business.
As such, punters can have confidence about the 23/20 available on a Liverpool victory.
The Italians are clearly better going forward than they are at the back, and the Reds continue to carve out chances wherever they go. So, Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals, at 5/6, seems a fair wager to us.