Not to be Captain Obvious, but this Genk vs Liverpool match-up matters.
It won’t easy though.
The Reds are without current Ballon D’or finalist Trent Alexander-Arnold and future Ballon D’or finalist Joel Matip. However, Mohamed Salah is back, which after what we witnessed on Sunday against Manchester United, is a very good thing.
While Liverpool “raced” out to an early lead behind a rejuvenated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it was rocky after that. Genk had legit opportunities. Liverpool were sloppy defensively again. Genk were unlucky to have a goal disallowed. It went to half-time 1-0. While Liverpool dominated possession 79-21%in the first 45 and outshot Genk 10/4 to 2/1, this isn’t a match the Reds look in control of at this point.
Second half was another story. Liverpool dominated and poured it on. They won 4-1 but this could’ve been 6-2. Liverpool had 17 shots on goal. That’s the Mo-effect.
Liverpool starting XI vs Genk
With TAA and Matip out, this provides and opportunity for Dejan Lovren (who has looked solid recently) to get some valuable minutes. Instead of opting for Joe Gomez at right-back, Jurgen Klopp plugs in James Milner. Klopp loves Milly on European nights. Would’ve liked to have seen Gomez there as he’s looked better at wing-back than center-back since returning, but I’m not in training either. Maybe Gomez is struggling.
Surprise starts also go to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (🙌) and…wait for it…Naby Keita. Come on, Naby. You can do this. You got this.
Liverpool Player Ratings
Jurgen Klopp (7) – The boss is rotating af today. This is going to go one of two ways: 1) we’re offensively going to blow Genk off the field, or 2) we’ll be offensive (sloppy, not-cohesive, etc.).
I like how Klopp managed this one. The midfield ended up looking like the shot in the arm we needed. He pulled a tired looking Robbo off early. He made sure to not wear out Ox (likely because he’s starting this weekend). And he got Origi on the pitch against he club he came up with as a junior.
Alisson (6) – Did well to punch out a dangerous free kick in the 24th. Then great distribution a minute later that lead to some build-up that Mane couldn’t finish.
Nothing he could do on the Genk goal after Lovren hung him out to dry. Did well coming off his line to snuff out another in stoppage time.
James Milner (7) – Gets the nod at wing-back with TAA out. Should be serviceable / solid.
Milner’s distribution is TAA-esque. Really, really good servicing. This Milner kid has a future in this league!
Defending is good too. Actually our best defender of the day. That’s not a good sign though.
Virgil van Dijk (5) – We have to hold VVD accountable here. Liverpool goes up early and again, the defending gets too casual and sloppy. Genk had two chances after Liverpool’s goal and should’ve tied it 1-1 but the goal was inexplicably disallowed.
Dejan Lovren (5) – I’ve come full circle on the Dejan Lovren experience. I’m glad he’s on the pitch and getting some minutes. I hope that sentence doesn’t immediately age poorly.
Been stronger than VVD in the first half, though out of position a couple of times. His error led to the Genk goal though. Still ride with Dejan though.
Andy Robertson (5) – Kind of a meh showing from Robbo. Not a lot of possession (just over 7% total he’s usually around 9-11%). Just one tackle one. Not as effective going forward. Subbed off for Joe Gomez at the 62nd to get some well-deserved rest.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (9.5) – Still waiting on that “breakthrough” Ox performance, but feel like it’s coming. Maybe today?
And it is! Ox scores a vintage Ox goal in under 2 minutes.
Overall probably our most consistent player in the first half. Speed looks back and penetrating with confidence. His second goal (outside boot) was awesome.
WARNING: For lovers of outside-the-boot finishes only ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/PYZ7RYGtiv— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) October 23, 2019
Subbed off in the 74th for Georginio Wijnaldum.
Fabinho (7) – Needs to be careful. He’s bullying his way to two bookings. Otherwise, he’s been really solid. Fab is like the fulcrum of a game of rondo that Liverpool seems to be playing at times vs Genk.
Naby Keita (8) – Just don’t suck. Please. Assuming he gets the nod on right with Milner because of his defensive work rate?
AND WHAT IS THIS??? Keita looks solid physically early on. Good on ball. He’s actually completed more passes than anyone (Fabinho included!). WE CAN BUILD ON THIS. DID I JUST TYPE AN “8” NEXT TO HIS NAME? I DID! Wow.
Roberto Firmino (7) – Pulled out to the left early on. Bouncy / more lively than Sunday. Assisted Ox’s second. Gets the hockey assist to Salah on the Mane goal.
Sadio Mane (7.5) – Poor finishing on great build up and ball from Milner in the 25th. However, does well to finish one that put Liverpool up 3-0.
Assists on the Salah goal as well.
Mohamed Salah (7) – Feel much better about this match and all of the rotation knowing Mo is back. Hopefully he’s fit. Looks lively early. Kind of the same old from him though–great activity and effort with no final product. Did strike a free-kick from around 30 yards out well, just missing. Narrowly missed a header he should’ve buried in the 33rd. Annoying habit of getting dispossessed continues. And can’t connect a meaning pass to save his life right now.
Then he did connect a pass! Perfectly weighted ball (after receiving it from Firmino) to Mane. But yeah, he’s selfish.
Mane got one back to him at the end. Salah showed strength, touch, and spatial awareness along with a deft right footed finish to record his first UCL away goal in awhile. Worth noting he looked much more confident and composed after his goal.
Mo Salah would not be denied 💪 pic.twitter.com/2NrkMzm1V7— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) October 23, 2019
Joe Gomez (5) – On early for Andy Robertson. Same impact as Robbo.
Georginio Wijnaldum (NR) – Came on in the 74th for Ox. Continues his ambition play with a rip after receiving from a penetrating Keita.
Divock Origi (NR) – Good to see him come on — he came up through Genk as a youth. Didn’t get to do much.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Can’t be anyone other than Ox. Even minus the two goals he’d have gotten it.