Here’s five things we learnt from Liverpool’s ugly win against Huddersfield:
The Shaqiri experiment continues in midfield
When we first read about Mané’s injury, the assumption was that Shaqiri would come in to fill that void out on the left-wing. As a wide man by trade, the like-for-like swap would seemingly make sense. However, Shaqiri’s starting position was on the right side of the midfield three, occupying the role that was so profitable for Oxlaid-Chamberlain last season.
This would suggest that going forward, this is the position Klopp expects Shaqiri to operate in predominantly. It gives the Swiss international the opportunity to wonder into the number 10 position, often making runs in-behind the Huddersfield back three to create an overload.
Having a more offensive player in these areas also allowed Salah a little more freedom to wonder in from the right-wing. This combination resulted in the opening goal with Shaqiri sliding the ball into the path of Salah who finished clinically with his right foot, driving the ball low into the far corner.
The Lallana role
In Adam Lallana’s first start since new-years day, he lined up on the left-side of the front three in what many believe to be, his worst position.
He’s never possessed the raw pace required to play out-wide. But, that was not something his role really required today. Lallana played a much more withdrawn role, often helping to flesh out the midfield, dragging defenders inside and allowing Andy Robertson the freedom of the left-flank. To those calling him ‘finished’, he might not be as dazzling brilliant as he was a couple of seasons ago. But, in games like these he will come in and positively contribute toward the three points whenever called-upon.
There is a reason Klopp holds so much admiration for the midfielder. Lallana’s tireless work allowed Sturridge and Salah to interchange in the final third, almost as a front two.
Salah’s found his shooting boots. Well, the right one at least
Salah’s goal will do his confidence wonders, it was really clinical finish on his weaker side. But, it still seemed the self-belief hadn’t completely restored. The Egyptian was still comfortably our best attacker and claimed the Man of the Match award without too much stiff competition.
He did however miss a guilt-edged chance to add a second, pulling his left-footed shot just wide of the far post. He was also a tad sloppy in possession as part of a front three that really failed to click. As has been the case on more than one game so far this season, our final ball was really lacking. This is something that will have to change and a point Klopp referenced to in his post match interview. He is happy with the results but not always the performance.
A premier league debut
Fabinho got his first taste of Premier League football following on from Klopp’s comments this week that he was ‘close’ to starting in the premier league.
Having played in both of Brazil’s games during the international break and only arriving back to Melwood on Thursday, it would have been a shock to see the Brazilian start. He entered the fray in the 69th minute and looked fairly tidy throughout even putting in an important challenge on Alex Pritchard as the Huddersfield player tried to dart into the box in the 86th minute.
His quality is clear to see and we as fans must exercise the same patience the midfielder does himself in waiting to stake his claim. But, all the noises are good, so we shan’t be waiting too much longer.
Three changes, same result
It was far away from our free flowing best. But, considering the XI that started the game have never played together previously and we were missing two of our devastating front three, it’s hard to draw too many negatives from the game.
We know what we miss when Sturridge starts upfront, he does not have the legs of Firmino and we were missing Mané who is so often the out ball for us. The second-string players came in and we came away with three points. Praise of course has to go to our defence for keeping the clean sheet but this is now normality, we can rely on our back line irregardless of how we are playing further up the pitch and that has not happened for 10 or so years.
Huddersfield looked good in spells but never posed too much of a threat. Hopefully David Wagner’s side can add a bit more of a cutting edge to positive performances and nick a few points away from our rivals in the chase for the league title.