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Football News: Liverpool Quick Match Reviews, Aston Villa And Genk

Liverpool Quick Match Reviews, Aston Villa And Genk
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Aston Villa v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective


Possibly, probably even, the most difficult game of the season as Villa ran their socks off and gave Liverpool absolutely no time and space. I was very impressed with them in fact, other than the big man up front, Wesley, who spent the entire game falling far too easily to the floot, when he had the physical size and strength to have bullied Lovren. His quality is doubtful as well, as he did not look to have a killer instinct at all, he looked very weak mentally and prone to throwing his arms up and complaining if a pass his way was not on the exact postage stamp size space he wanted it. Certainly ran around a fair bit, particularly when he knew he was about to be brought off, when he suddenly stopped being a headless chicken and actually made an attempt to close people down.

The rest of their team were excellent, non-stop running and gave their everything, though it was clear they faded in the second half and it is no surprise they concede goals late in games, as they just run out of legs. There is a distinct lack of creative ability in their team, but they work hard enough to make up for it and should have no difficulty surviving this season, so long as the players do not let their heads drop if they go on a bad run.

The way Villa played had a big impact on Liverpool's struggles to create enough quality chances. However there was nothing Villa could do about Liverpool's sheer persistence and refusal to give up. That never-say-die attitude even continued after the equaliser was scored, despite how late in the game it was scored, they kept on going until the game was won. In the circumstances the result was all that mattered, but the performance was not the best, there were a lot of players struggling to impose themselves on the game.

Liverpool were turning the screw as the game went on, as Villa started to tire Liverpool seemed to just carry on at the same level, with no sign of tiredness. The full-backs continued to charge down the flanks and it was fitting that Robertson, who is beloved of the crowd because of his never-say-die never-stop-running style of play, scored the equaliser. Surprising, but fitting. Even more surprising because Origi was on the pitch and he is usually the man who performs the rescue act when the clock is ticking down.

This time it was down to Robertson and Mane to win the game. Mane's an excellent header, but an avoidable goal from Villa's point of view by the simple expedient of having men on the posts. Mane had been having a difficult afternoon, booked for simulation after having his foot clearly trod on and going down. He did exaggerate the contact to ensure the referee saw it (as do all players) so fully deserved the yellow card, but it was also a foul, which is the first offence, and so could (should?) have had a penalty as well. Maybe the answer is to give both the yellow and the penalty when these incidents happen? Because the way a player goes down does not stop it being a foul in the first place and they are meant to give the first offence, but the simulation should not be ignored in my opinion.

All in all one of those games that showed the quality of team spirit, something that will be vital if Liverpool are to keep their title challenge on track. It was similar to the early 80s performances, grinding the opposition down and keeping them penned in until eventually the breakthrough comes. The reason the wins often come late is not luck, it is not just the desire to keep going, it is also due to the team moving the opposition around and wearing them out, leaving gaps to exploit and tired legs to face.


Liverpool v Genk


A thoroughly dominant performance, belied by the result which should have been a much bigger win in reality. The worrying thing is how easy it was for them to score their goal from a corner. Fabinho switched off completely and let the man go free to score. There were a number of times when the defence were caught short, players allowing themselves to be caught out of position, Virgil not covering when Gomez was pulled out wide and Fabinho not dropping in to fill the gap either. The lack of communication between the centre backs was worrying, but hopefully just a symptom of their lack of recent playing time together.

One thing that did stand out defensively is how much better Alexander-Arnold's reading of the game is now. There were a couple of times he read the danger and was across on the cover to sweep up, to clear the ball ahead of a couple of opposing players. He is really starting to grow into the role and there are clear signs even his defensive weaknesses are no longer so weak.

It was also impressive how quickly the team won the ball back to stop the Belgians creating almost anything at all. They could not get at Liverpool at all because they barely saw the ball and when they did have it they were pressured into losing it. LFC completely dominated the ball but they were far from clinical, which meant Genk were never out of it totally, despite being outclassed for 90 minutes.

Genk have a good record as a breeding ground for future stars, but none of those players in the team stood out as being the next star to come from the club, though many clubs are watching Berge. Tactically they did nothing to stop Liverpool's domination or creation of some decent chances. Losing their manager, Philippe Clement, in the summer has clearly cost them badly, the new manager has not got the same grasp on the team or tactical nous and they are unlikely to be anywhere near the Champions League again under him.

Unfortunately, the weakness of the Genk team and the weak management made it difficult to draw anything from it in a Liverpool perspective, other than criticisms for not winning by a bigger margin. Considering how dominant they were, it seems churlish to criticise the players for that! Especially when it was a mixed up team on the pitch.

However I will say I am not sure Milner should play left-back any more, he makes far too many errors and we should have better options in the youth squads. I have grown to really love Milner as a player, but in deep areas a lack of a left foot sees him often cut back on to his right to play balls across the pitch. By switching back on to his right to play them, he gives opponents time to read it and intercept, increasing the danger. That is when he does not just play it straight at an opponent. It is becoming a theme with him, as he looks to keep possession when put under pressure, rather than just playing a forward ball to clear lines on his wrong foot.

At right-back Milner is fine, in midfield he is excellent, it is just left-back is no longer a position he is suitable for with the way we play. The emphasis on increased possession makes it difficult for a mainly right-footer to play there. Plus his quality in midfield is wasted at full-back.

That is me searching for issues to pick at, rather than a major problem though. Overall Milner does not do a bad job there, it is just he plays those dangerous balls a couple of times a game and it will cost a goal eventually if it continues. A better team than Genk will see that as a point to put pressure on and cause turnovers. On the other hand, he is unlikely to play at left-back against better teams, so it really is not a big deal, I would just like to see a youngster start to get blooded to see if they have the ability to cover for Robertson in the case of injury.

Written by Tris Burke November 06 2019 11:13:15


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