Liverpool can clinch the top spot in Champions League Group E if they beat Napoli at Anfield today. As you may have heard, Napoli is in utter crisis right now and missing a few key starters. So obviously I’m irrationally nervous about this one.
And for good reason! Liverpool are as bad as I’ve seen all year in the first half. Lifeless. Pick it up the final 7-8 minutes of the first half but otherwise putrid.
The second half is better. On one hand, Napoli just park the bus and Liverpool dominate possession and shots. However, there’s no end product.
Dejan Lovren ultimately helped Liverpool pull one back and the Reds ultimately ended with a very disappointing 1-1 draw. They’re not guaranteed advancement out of the group yet. In fact, they have a lot of work to do on matchday 6 at Red Bull Salzburg.
Liverpool Player Ratings
Jurgen Klopp (7) – Rotates the squad a little. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Gini Wijnaldum sit. James Milner and Joe Gomez start. As poor as the team was in the first half, you’d expect an inspired half-time ass-reaming and more lively Liverpool squad in the second 45. Not so much.
Brought on Ox for Gomez and shifted to a 4-2-3-1 (Bobby up top, Henderson to back right, Ox on right wing) and that made all the difference. Lovren scored his header soon thereafter.
Subs in TAA for Milner, slotting him at right-back. He moved Hendo then to a holding mid with Gini. Given Bobby’s poor showing today, he moves Salah up top and drops Firmino to the #10 role.
Will give him a 7 for throwing a bunch of shit against the wall and finding anything to stick.
Alisson (6) – His save against Napoli at Anfield on the final day of group play last year put Liverpool through. The stakes aren’t as high in this one, but a monster performance is needed. That didn’t happen.
Alisson was so focused on defending his near post on the Mertens opener that he left the far post open. He did poorly going low (on a quality strike to be fair) to get a hand on it. Not challenged much after that.
Joe Gomez (5) – Starts for TAA. I’ve liked Gomez more as a wing-back than center-back since he’s been-back from injury. Did nothing to shine or embarrass himself.
Virgil van Dijk (6.5) – Easily the best defender of the bunch in the first half. Vintage VVD. A little less involved after that. An ok showing.
Dejan Lovren (7) – Another deserved start. However, doesn’t reward Klopp’s faith early. Poor and casual defending on the Mertens opener. Made up for it with a fantastic equalizing header in the 65th.
Dejan Lovren: Liverpool goalscorer 😅 pic.twitter.com/BHN82WxUUy
— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) November 27, 2019
Andy Robertson (5.5) – Didn’t drop in to space defending on the Mertens opener. Passing is off. Turning ball over. Klopp should’ve started Gomez for him instead. Poor first half. Better in the second. Had the most possession on the squad and did the least with it.
Jordan Henderson (7) – Lots of possession. Chipped in many ways. Tackles. Aerials. Better showing for the captain.
Fabinho (NR) – Off in the 18th minute with injury before he could make an impact.
Here’s how Fab got his injury… pic.twitter.com/Hr3RC6TlJz
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) November 27, 2019
James Milner (7) – Our Swiss army knife comes in to rest Gini. Workman like and did just about everything from completing dribbles (2) to winning aerials (3). Off in the 78th for TAA.
Roberto Firmino (4) – Total non-factor in first half. Rarely touched the ball. Poor effort in the 63rd minute on a wasted opportunity. Maybe his worst showing of the season.
Sadio Mane (5) – Blazing fast on ball but no end product in first half. Tried to dive for a pk but wasn’t awarded. Tried but wasn’t creating.
Mohamed Salah (5.5) – Feel like I’m just copy+pasting this with Salah over and over now: Effort and energy there, final product not. Had the fewest touches on the squad among starters. Tried to make an impact but again could not.
Gini Wijnaldum (5) – Came on in the 18th for Fabinho. More of a “Bad Gini” game. No impact.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6) – On in the 57th for Gomez. Active and good bursts but lacking end product. Saw a lot of the ball in a limited time.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (NR) – On in the 78th for Milner. Solid positional defending in the 86th to kill an attack.
MAN OF THE MATCH
I guess this goes to Lovren for bailing us out. Not a good showing by the lads though. Napoli has our number.