It was an unbelievable clash that took place at Anfield on early Sunday evening between Liverpool and Manchester City, ending with a 4-3 Liverpool win – at last ending Manchester City’s 22 game unbeaten Premier League streak this season. Here are 3 things that could be learned and taken from the game.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being utilized in the right manner at last.
After years of being pushed around between the wings and fullback position’s by Arsène Wenger at Emirates, Jürgen Klopp finally has found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s true role and how to utilize him in the most efficient way.
Since arriving at Liverpool on summer deadline day, ‘Ox’ has been played at CM, which according to himself and numerous media outlets is his preferred position. Something that has undeniably not gone unnoticed.
Klopp did not throw Ox into action right away, instead he got slowly introduced to the German’s system and game plan. A decision that in retrospect was wise and has paid off. Ox has adapted and accustomed himself very well to the famous Gegenpressing system. On Sunday, Ox broke his personal goal scoring record in the Premier League as he scored his third goal of the season. An indication and testament to the progress he has made under Klopp’s regime – and it is still only January.
So, how does Klopp manage him and Wenger did not? It is simple, he is using Ox strengths to his benefit. Ox is now being used in a more direct manner than what he was at Arsenal. So far, he has less successful and made dribbles, less contacts with the ball and less made passes than at this point in time last season – yet he has increased his point production. Klopp is capitalizing on his main and strongest attributes – his strength, drive, pace, and touch to have him be a more direct and straight-going player. Based on observations from yesterday’s game, Ox is now the nearest replacement you can come to and have overtaken the role as the team’s engine in Philippe Coutinho’s absence.
- At Anfield nothing is impossible.
Anfield has been praised as one of the best stadium atmospheres since the dawn of time. A very true statement indeed. The famous atmosphere has long fueled the team to take on anyone or anything. However, during the Hodgson and Rodgers eras, there was a dip in the team being able to capitalize on the atmosphere. We lost the terrifying aspect which made teams fear coming to Anfield. Nevertheless, that is one of many problems Klopp has been the solution to since arriving. We have taken our castle back and no team gets away easy at our home anymore.
Yesterday Anfield was BOILING in a manner that made the City players’ boots shake. A team that has been unbeaten in 22 games back-to-back, a team that has established fear towards every opponent they have come across, and arguably been the best team in Europe this season, was overthrown by the Anfield atmosphere. They did not at all look like themselves during the vast majority of the game. Instead they were dominated not only by Klopp and his Red warriors taking the field, but also the Red warriors in the stands of Anfield.
Anfield is our castle, and genuinely NOTHING is impossible there.
- The left back position is finally filled with a quality piece of player material.
John Arne Riise was the last solid left back Liverpool Football Club had starting. It has been a long time since the glory days when we all were blessed to witness the magnificent Norwegian take the field in a Reds jersey. However, after years of struggles on the left side of the defense, Klopp has lastly found quality material allround by resurrecting Alberto Moreno’s Liverpool career and acquiring Scotsman, and bargain, Andrew Robertson during the summer transfer window.
Robertson’s performance against City was a living testament to the upgrade that has been made at the left back position. A recently form-strong Raheem Sterling was kept entirely in check and next to invisible on the Scotsman’s wing as he provided stellar coverage both on the defensive and offensive aspect of the game for his team. He was right in his positional discipline, his one-on-one duels were impeccable, and he provided good crosses for the attackers to work with as he gave his absolute all, at all times. He took a run from his left back position chasing the ball and pressing the entirety of the opposition’s team all the way up to the goalkeeper, Ederson – a clip that has gone viral on the Internet and rapidly become a fan favorite amongst Liverpool fans.
The ‘re-birth’ of Alberto Moreno has created both back-up and competition for Robertson, as the Spaniard has returned to his former self – the player Liverpool invested in to acquire. Moreno has had a solid season overall, bar the 3-3 draw against his ex-side, Sevilla, at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. The lack of positional awareness and the flawed decision making have both greatly improved. A significant, and well needed, improvement of the Liverpool squad – which has been long awaited by the fans of the club.
Lastly, something which is well worth noting, is the colossal importance of Emre Can. His future has been widely discussed in the past few months, as strong interest from Italian giants and reigning Champions of Italy, Juventus, has been stated. The Italian transfer guru, Gianluca Di Marzio, has even gone as far as reporting that an agreement has been struck between the entourage of Emre Can and Juventus.
On Sunday, Emre showed that on his day he is next to unplayable. Can completely bossed the midfield winning next to every battle he threw himself into, regaining possession making it look like he has done nothing but that at Melwood the past year. His potential has been vastly discussed throughout the past year as he has seemed to have found himself in a dip of form, but he ‘proved his doubters into believers’ in a Klopp-esque manner on Sunday – as he showed that the potential of becoming a world class player in his position is still both an objective and fully possible.
Trust and believe Reds’, everything is possible.