Despite being far from their best, Liverpool managed to return to winning ways in the Premier League with an ultimately comfortable 1-0 win against Brighton this afternoon.
Even though it was a much improved second half, with a moment of Salah magic proving the difference between the two sides, the first half was a particularly frustrating affair and many fans pointed to Klopp’s decision to play Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum as a midfield two as the main factor behind this.
Against Chris Hughton’s organised, deep-block defence, Liverpool looked insipid and unimaginative in the first-half at the Amex, with the midfield pairing being partially responsible; in spite of the large amount of possession, there was a lack of creativity going forward and the majority of passes appeared to go backwards.
Fans suggested that Wijnaldum and Henderson shouldn’t even play together, while there were plenty of calls for Fabinho and Naby Keita:
Henderson and Wijnaldum are so fucking frustrating as a partnership. Either of them receive it on the edge of the area, neither of them wants to risk the forward pass, so they both just exchange it with each other while the opposition defence gladly forms up. Useless
— The Nick Chambers (@RakeFrenchman) January 12, 2019
What’s even the point of playing both Henderson and Wijnaldum in a game like this? Neither are capable of playing that killer pass that is sorely needed to break down teams sitting low.
— Robin (@Robish13) January 12, 2019
Don’t think Henderson and Wijnaldum should ever play in the same team
— Demetri (@DemetriSmith_) January 12, 2019
When you play Wijnaldum & Henderson in a double pivot vs a organised deep block defence. Decent off the ball, not progressive enough with it. We may wear them down in time, but I'd rather bring in Keita to add midfield creativity. https://t.co/FqxF3I3BGW
— Taintless Red (@TaintlessRed) January 12, 2019
Klopp can LITERALLY mop the floor with Henderson & Wijnaldum to pass that fucking ball forward and they'd still be shite.
— Bob (@TheScapegoat_) January 12, 2019
Henderson, Wijnaldum against a deep block hasn’t worked. Henderson, Wijnaldum in MF together fails every time. I know what either will do before the ball comes to them. Lacking any technical ability
— Only LFC (@Only__LFC) January 12, 2019
Liverpool improved significantly after the break and both Henderson and Wijnaldum contributed more, at points it cried out for someone to drive the ball forward and to try and link up the attack, as opposed to aimless balls forward or backwards passes.
A centre-back crisis forced Fabinho to trade the centre of the park for the centre of defence, where he generally did well, while Naby Keita got a few minutes at the end in place of Sadio Mane.
Keita has been mainly underwhelming since his arrival from RB Leipzig in the summer but he’s shown glimpses of just how talented he is and what he can offer this side; you have to hope he shows his capabilities sooner rather than later.