Expect The Unexpected

Speaking to a few Reds fans after the game and I think it’s fair to say that the final score of 3-3 was no big surprise. It should have been, but what this current Liverpool side has taught us is to expect the unexpected. In recent years we have had a fair few roller-coaster games where the supposed unexpected has happened. The outcomes of which have gone in our favour and against us. Last night followed the same pattern as Crystal Palace in 2014 and Bournemouth last season. So many of the forums and Social Media Groups went into meltdown immediately after the game. Several players were singled out, as was the manager Jurgen Klopp.

Expect The Unexpected

Expect The Unexpected-Sevilla v Liverpool

Expect The Unexpected-Sevilla v Liverpool

So, who were the players singled out? Who were the ones to commence the expect the unexpected process? The usual suspects to a large extent, with the notable exception of one absentee. That absentee was Dejan Lovren. So often Lovren has been the whipping boy for poor performances. And rightly so it must be said in many instances. One very recent example is the game against Tottenham, where Lovren had a stinker. But not so last night. He had a good game.

The main target for the keyboard warriors was Alberto Moreno. Followed by Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum. Moreno to be fair has enjoyed a decent run of form recently. But even in his good spell he has often demonstrated his impetuous, rash tendencies. It is important to recognise that. He will always have those tendencies. It’s in his footballing DNA. No-one has ever doubted his ability going forward. But his defensive duties are always very questionable. He may have got away with rash lunges or poor positional play against Huddersfield, Maribor and Southampton for instance. But against better quality opposition, he and the team get punished.

You also have to credit where credit is due. The opposition were a very good team and arguably, were unlucky to be 3-0 down. Singling out Moreno is pointless in a way as deep down we all know he will have a game like last night every so often. Moreno’s recent performances have masked those brain fart moments. He has been in a way the flip side of the old saying. “Form is temporary, class is permanent”. He has enjoyed a decent run of good form, but he is not a classy, defensive full-back is he?

In Defence Of The Defence

As soon as Seville scored their first, we really knew to expect the unexpected didn’t we. Again, like Moreno, it’s in our DNA. Score 3, then we want to score 4. Score 4 then we want to score 5…and so on. Another old cliche to consider is that we win as a team and we lose as a team. The “team” is not only the 11 on the pitch, but also those off it. Putting Moreno’s brain farts to one side for a moment, the management team’s game management was again called into question.

Too open, cannot see a game out, ineffective and untimely substitutions etc…etc…Again, why are we surprised at last night’s implosion? Like Moreno’s brain farts our management have history of freezing as the pattern of a game turns against us. It happened again last night. In defence of our defence (which includes Moreno), again our midfield did not offer any protection to our defence.

Our Midfield When We Are Under The Cosh

As another expect the unexpected game started to unfold, what was happening in our midfield to stem the tide? Well, nothing really. There are statistics, damn statistics and lies. Last night’s statistics showed that the game’s player that changed events was Ever Banega. A quality, experienced midfielder who went from totally anonymous in the first half to game changer in the second. The statistics for the first 18 minutes of the 2nd half shows that Banega made 36 passes, while in the same period, Jordan Henderson made 2 passes. This of course does not reflect well at all on Henderson. In a period of a game when you want your main midfield player, who also happens to be your captain, to step up to the plate, he failed. And badly so.

Clearly much of this is down to Henderson himself. But not only that, the set-up of the team and those around him contribute to his apparent failings. Klopp and his staff did nothing to address what was happening in front of their very own eyes. On the front foot we look a well oiled, slick, competent unit. The first sign of any pressure and we crumble. No shape, no leadership on or off the pitch.

Not Only Henderson

Moving on from Henderson, his midfield partner epitomises the team’s contrasting fortunes. Gini Wijnaldum is great when we are at home, 3-0 up with 20 minutes to go. Having him on the pitch when we are under the cosh is a waste of time. Especially away from home. All fans can see this. Can the management?

To be fair, Klopp tried to introduce a bit more steel into the fray after 63 minutes with two substitutions. Off came Coutinho and Moreno and on came Milner and Can. But this was when it was 3-2. Should these changes have been made at 3-0 is the question so many fans are asking? Not under this management team it would seem. Closing games out does not appear to be on the agenda. It’s let’s go for goals, goals and more goals. But again we know that. It is how Klopp likes his teams to play. Heavy metal and all that. When our style works it is brilliant. When it doesn’t there are so many in the firing line.

Striking The Right Balance

I don’t think any of us expected an immediate trophy laden run of success when we appointed Klopp. Bit by bit he is building the team into his preferred template. He is steadily putting the required pieces in place. Naby Keita is coming and no doubt he is being signed so that he will be a regular starter. In place of who though? Take your pick for me. If he comes earlier than planned in January then he will be another piece of the jigsaw in place. As will a new centre half if we really push the boat out in January. Another jigsaw piece to address is of course left back. We already have Andy Robertson so this area can be sorted very quickly if Klopp sees the need.

It seems ever more likely that Emre Can will be on his way, so that would seem that we will need another midfielder. Will we sign one or will Grujic and/or Ejaria step up to the plate? If we sign one then Leon Goretzka’s name has been mentioned on quite a few occasions. He ticks a lot of boxes. Big (6ft 2 inches), powerful, versatile and young (22). A player I’ve always wanted us to be linked with is William Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon. Both of these options could solve our regular holding midfielder problem (although Goretzka offers a greater variety of styles as well).

In Conclusion

It isn’t all doom and gloom as many of the forums and Social Media Groups would have you think. The building process is still a work in progress. I don’t think any of us truly expected us to win the Champions League this season did we? If we do get out of the Group then this would represent another big step forward. But if we don’t, was last night the only reason why we didn’t? After all, we should have beat Sevilla at home and we did also draw away in Moscow in another game we dominated. If we beat Moscow, last night will be forgotten. Then, who knows, if we make a couple of shrewd acquisitions in January (and Keita comes as well), we might go further in the competition than we initially expected. Not only that the days of expect the unexpected may be over.

A final word on Sevilla coach, Eduardo Berizzo. He announced to his players at half time that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Let’s hope he makes a speedy and full recovery. Puts football into perspective really doesn’t it!!

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