Here’s how the lads lined up.
We predicted the match would be open and fast-paced, and that’s how it started. If you’re looking for high-energy, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve come searching for non-stop annoying whistling from Italian soccer fans, you’ve also come to the right place. STFU Napoli.
Very even first half, but it felt like if it went on another five minutes, Liverpool would’ve broken through. They started figuring it out by the 30th minute. First-half possession was 51-49% to Napoli. Liverpool had 9 shot (2 on target) to Napoli’s 5/2.
The wheels came off late in the second half. First, Napoli got awarded a penalty because they’re really good divers. Awful call against Andy Robertson. What’s the point of VAR if it doesn’t overrule terrible calls on the pitch?
Then VVD and Robbo got their wires crossed in stoppage time and it’s an unlucky 2-0 loss for the Reds. Key takeaways:
- Napoli are good
- Their fans are the most annoying in Europe
- They’re great at diving
Liverpool Player Ratings
Jurgen Klopp (5) – Went with the line-up I predicted, so I guess that’s worth at least a 6. Had the boys ready to play though. Interesting mix of breaking down the press and playing more direct / over the top. Subbed Gini in at the right time. Waited too late to bring on Shaq and should’ve swapped him for Mane not Henderson. Needed to sub out someone else–rotation for this weekend is key.
Adrian (9) – A fucking wall in the 7th minute, thwarting two lasers on target. Steadier in distribution than we’ve seen earlier in the season which is a good sign. Overall, huge first half. Started the second half strong as well, as his save in the 50th was utterly world-class. Neither goal on him.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (5) – Heads up and speedy defending in the 28th. Otherwise, service not pin point as always. So-so evening.
Virgil van Dijk (5.5) – Used his big noggin to clear a cross in the 5th minute. Well done to hold the line and help draw the off-sides to bail Adrian out in the 7th. Great defending in the 11th as well, closing out Mertens on a dangerous ball. Brainfart on the second goal.
Joel Matip (7) – Not a great start but did well with VVD to hold the line and draw the off-sides in the 7th. Some great defending in the 26th minute on Mertens and a corner aerial win immediately thereafter. Defended the Mertens cross in the 62nd so well. Best defender of the bunch.
Andy Robertson (6) – Darting all over the field with little impact early on. Called for an absolute bullshit penalty in the box that led to the Napoli goal. Disgraceful call. What’s the point of VAR if it’s not used properly?
Jordan Henderson (7) – The captain is back after getting rested this weekend vs Newcastle. Great ball to Mane in the 21st that the Senegalese heavy touched, wasting a big chance. A boss dispossession in the 77th brought on an unfruitful counter. Good showing.
Fabinho (7) – Very much the central nervous system of the squad though seemed to be over-run at times by Napoli’s dashing midfield in the first half. Strong in the second. Winning tackles and hitting 95%+ of his passes.
James Milner (6.5) – While Gini probably isn’t happy about it, no problem with Milner getting the start. He’s rested and will be a nuisance. Ambitious with an errant attempt in the 22nd, god love him. Put through by Firmino in the 43rd minute and opted to pass instead of taking a clear shot. Wasted opportunity. Great diving interception to thwart an attack and spring a counter outlet to Robbo in the 53rd. Pulled for Gini in the 66th. Solid effort.
Roberto Firmino (6) – Didn’t get the rest he probably wanted this weekend, but Origi’s injury forced him into action. Creativity and passing on point as always. Control / finishing a tad off.
Sadio Mane (2) – Heavy touch in the 21st kept him from generating a higher quality shot. Another poor touch in the 52nd off a brilliant Salah-Hendo sequence. And ANOTHER poor touch on a counter soon thereafter. Someone get Mane some TOCA lessons please. Utterly horrible pass to Salah on a 2 vs 1 that ruined an attack in the 54th. And another heavy touch in the 71st when sprung by Fabinho. Is he on Napoli’s payroll today? Hungover? An uncharacteristcally awful showing. Out of nowhere. He’s been sooooo good in 2019. Putrid night.
Mohamed Salah (7.5) – Fast and active early. After taking a questionable dive early, stayed on his feet in the 22nd to generate a chance. Koulibaly is all over him. Bobby is rubbing off on him, as he’s doing creative back-flicks and such. One in the 52nd to Henderson was almost a brilliant hockey assist (Mane flubbed it). Unlucky not to score in the 65th, denied on a great save. Overall great energy and pace.
Georginio Wijnaldum (5) – On for Milner in the 66th. See if Klopp deploys him more offensively. Didn’t do much.
Xherdan Shaqiri (NR) – On late for Henderson.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Adrian. He was awesome.