Let’s do this chronologically. When the team sheets were announced at 7pm on Wednesday evening, we were all a bit surprised.
The approach was similar to that in the win over West Ham: a 4-2-4 or 4-4-2 depending on whether or not Liverpool were in possession. Would Chamberlain play on the left-hand side to protect Moreno or would the Mane-Moreno partnership be given further chance to flourish?
The first main talking point was the number of big names who were rested for the match. I think we all expected to see Salah given a well-deserved night off but to see Coutinho and Henderson on the bench was quite surprising. The second was Dominic Solanke getting his first ever Premier League start, a big call in a must-win match.
Liverpool dominated the match with 60% possession and had the better and more numerous opportunities. The midfield weren’t overrun despite only having two in the centre and Solanke played a key role in a ruthless performance. I think in football, especially tactically, the ends justify the means which is unfair given that matches can change at any moment. Say for example, Mignolet gets sent off and Shaqiri makes it 1-1, I’m probably sitting here slaughtering him but fine margins like that don’t make the manager a genius or an idiot.
Jurgen Klopp was heavily criticised for his team selection for the Chelsea match but he’ll argue that we would all have taken seven points from Chelsea, Stoke and Brighton and we go into the final match of that run full of confidence, our top scorer still in red hot form and none of Mane, Firmino, Salah, Coutinho, Henderson and Sturridge having started both of the last two games. Three points on Saturday and we are saying he has managed this run of games very well.
The changes weren’t exactly difficult – put on your top scorer and bury a rubbish team which is exactly what happened. I suppose that’s what you deserve when you manage your squad well and adopt a strong approach to get yourself ahead in the first place.
I’m not sure whether taking off Oxlade-Chamberlain was pre-planned or a reaction to him almost losing his head at one point. Either way, it was good management – Chamberlain seems to be enjoying life despite not being a first team regular and that is all credit to the manager.
At the back, Liverpool were lucky on more than one occasion not to concede but we have to accept that when we play the expansive football that we do, other teams will have opportunities – especially away from home. So we can hardly complain when we get our clean sheet. High balls into the box seem to be the Achilles heel for Liverpool but it was the second balls that seemed to cause Liverpool the most issues on Wednesday night.
Out of 10? I’ll give Klopp an 8 for this one. His management of the squad this week will be judged on whether or not he can beat Brighton on Saturday but taking tonight in isolation, he has had a good night.
He has the best of both worlds with Salah – still in goalscoring form but also well rested. The gamble to start Solanke paid off with him being heavily involved in all of the chances we had, especially first half.