Was anyone else getting deja vu at all watching the Hoffenheim game?
Dynamite in attack, disastrous in defence; just like the Watford clash last weekend!
Despite this, Liverpool almost escaped with a priceless 2-0 win thanks to a wonder free-kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold (good luck getting back in the team Nathaniel Clyne) and an own goal via a deflected cross by James Milner.
Yet again the defensive demons reared their head as Hoffenheim pulled back a crucial goal thanks to a mix-up between Alexander-Arnold and regular offender Dejan Lovren and it could have been worse if not for an excellent display and penalty save from keeper Simon Mignolet.
Should we have expected anything else, though, given Jurgen started with the exact same eleven – the same midfield I’m on record as saying stunts the entire team, as well as AlbertoMoreno and Lovren (plenty more on those two later)?
Looking at the subs bench, Jurgen didn’t have a whole lot of choice, although having now witnessed 180 minutes of the ‘new’ Alberto Moreno and the damp squib of a midfield that is Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum, some Reds fans are suddenly yearning for the good old days of James Milner at left-back and to see Marko Grujic given a chance in midfield.
Moreno sadly offered absolutely nothing different to what he has shown his entire Anfield career, chasing around like one of the bull terriers he owns let loose in the middle of Crufts and with the same amount of restraint and positional sense.
It’s a shame he is so woeful in defence and tactically because he’s a great athlete and looks dangerous going forward; but in our own half he simply has not developed at all and if Jurgen seriously thinks he can change this he’s deluded. Two decent games in pre-season certainly haven’t pulled the wool over my eyes so I’d be amazed if the gaffer has been fooled by them.
Maybe it’s just a cunning plan to get someone to fork out our asking price from earlier this summer of £15m for Moreno; hopefully so, because after the Palace game next weekend, Arsene Wenger will be praying he can target him on our left flank all game with the pace of the likes of Hector Bellerin, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott.
As for Lovren; he clumsily conceded a penalty (aided by Moreno being out of position as usual), did his usual trick of rushing out and leaving gaping holes several times, his marking was suspect, and he played Uth onside for the Hoffenheim goal when Alexander-Arnold had stepped up.
Ste gave Lovren 3/10 in his player ratings, which says it all really!
Unfortunately, Lovren’s partner Joel Matip again didn’t look too much better. Physically he was beaten a couple of times as he was at the weekend, and again from set pieces Hoffenheim attackers found themselves unmarked in central areas where he should be dominating. However, I am giving Matip a pass until Klopp delivers him a vaguely competent partner.
As against Watford, but for the pace and danger offered by Sadio Mane and Mo Salah and the tireless work of Roberto Firmino, our front six would have been toothless.
Can and Henderson just can’t play together, as shown by the fact that even slotting Milner in for the poor Henderson instantly made us look more cohesive. Wijnaldum was anonymous, and overall all three of the starting midfield proved again that they are only cogs in the wheel rather than difference-makers like the absent Coutinho and Lallana or mooted signing Naby Keita. I hope that Jurgen can see this too and is just making do for the time being.
I’d actually give Grujic a start against Palace, it’s about time we saw what we’ve really got there with him as he’s always impressed in pre-season and with the amount of games we’ve got this season he could be a big asset.
Ultimately, we got a great result, one that we probably didn’t quite deserve, and Trent Alexander-Arnold continues to look our most exciting prospect since Stevie. It’s just a shame he is being let down by some of his more ‘experienced’ team-mates when he should be learning from them. As it stands, all he is learning is what not to do, and it’s up to Jurgen to fix that.
JURGEN’S RATING: 7/10 – Ee got a result and his options are limited. However, tonight showed yet again how desperate we are for a centre-back and that Moreno isn’t the answer, two facts he needs to address ASAP.