Having watched the game live on my iPhone on a perfectly good quality feed (one which was legal to use, of course) whilst travelling home on a train, I was eager to re-watch the game with Middlesbrough on TV and I wasn’t disapointed.
Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners and the scoreline reflected their dominance. They were execellent in almost every phase and didn’t give the home side much of a chance
Here are my takeaways from the game:
1. Let’s start with a negative. I know, sorry! Playing James Milner as a left back has many benefits but with those, you have to accept his limitations too. Adama Traore is lightening quick and can cause most defenders problems. Milner looked vulnerable to his pace too. On a positive, Milner’s teammates seemed to recognise the issue and often flooded to his side to try and help him out.
2. Liverpool’s first goal was very well worked and highlighted a strength in the system. Sadio Mane was allowed to drift inside to collect the ball from Adam Lallana. By doing so, he was able to vacate space for Nathaniel Clyne to attack and he did just that. His deep cross was excellent and Lallana’s run to meet the ball was equally as impressive as he made up about 30 yards on his defender.
3. Middlesbrough’s attempts to squeeze the play and congest the midfield sort of made sense, but what it did was leave a lot of space in behind. Liverpool were happy to be a bit more direct at times and that really confused the home side. The hight line was exposed by Mane, but he was unlucky to hit the post.
4. If the first goal showed the strength of Liverpool’s system, the second was a masterclass in terms of the style of play that the manager has asked for. Liverpool pressed Boro high up the pitch, forcing them to hoof the ball. It falls to Henderson and from there, Liverpool were lethal. They moved the ball quickly with a lot of one and two touch passing before Divock Origi slotted home. An excellent goal.
5. When teams play a high line, Origi will flourish. He drifted wide at times and was always on the shoulder. I have some doubts about him against deep defences but he’s scored five goals in five games now.
6. It was noticeable that Roberto Firmino’s best moments came when he drifted inside. He has a job to do for the team by starting on the left but he looks much more at home when he is in the middle of the park.