Interesting game the other night against Bayern Munich. A 0-0 draw was maybe a fair result to some, although it was Liverpool who created all the chances. Sadio Mane on another night would have at least bagged two. He may even have walked off with the match ball. Anyway, as it is, it is still all to play for.
Still All To Play For
To be fair Bayern were a very good team. Despite having a few missing themselves, they managed to dominate possession for long periods. Particularly so in the first 15 minutes or so. We hardly managed to keep the ball in that period.
However after that we asserted ourselves and really grew into the game. We took the game to them and we made them look a bit uncomfortable at times when we ran at them.
Naby Keita’s Best Game So Far?
Was this Naby Keita’s best game for us so far? Maybe so. He did have a really good game in the opening game of the season against West Ham, but given the occasion and the opponents, maybe this was his best.
He has gradually shown signs of improvement steadily in recent games. Against Bayern Munich he did carry the ball well and was full of running. He also tracked back and closed down well. When he ran at their back four he seemed to carry a threat. It looked as though Bayern weren’t too comfortable with that.
At times though he still seems to maybe carry the ball a bit too far. In saying all this, he has massively improved and is finally starting to look like the player he was at Leipzig. There’s certainly a player in there, that’s for sure.
Makeshift Back Four
With key members of the back four absent, Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, there was some concern as to how our back four would cope. Especially with the dangerous Robert Lewandowski.
But no worries there as it happens. Fabinho and Joel Matip were outstanding. Fabinho gets better and better game by game. One of the first names on the team sheet for me now.
Great to have Trent Alexander Arnold back. He looked good going forward and defended well against a tricky opponent in Kingsley Coman. Coman was good. Particularly in the first quarter of an hour.
And Andy Robbo was well, just as you now expect from Andy Robbo. Full of running, good defensively and always offering an option going forward. What a player. He has set such high standards now that a great performance from him now seems to be the norm.
A quick mention of Alisson Becker. As well as Bayern played at times, our keeper was well protected and didn’t have much to do. Apart from his, now seemingly regular, wobbles with the ball at his feet. I must admit I do get quite concerned when he does dwell on the ball. He was nearly caught out again against Bayern when he again gave the ball away in a very dangerous position. There is a time and place for playing it out and there’s a time and a place for launching it.
Bayern’s keeper, Manuel Neuer, seems to have got the balance right. Don’t get me wrong, I think Becker is a massive upgrade on what we’ve had previously, but at times he does overplay it at the back at sometimes on the wrong occasion.
Gini and Hendo
Great performances from both. I’m in the camp who feel it’s unfair to see some of the stick Hendo gets. I thought he was brilliant on Tuesday. He did seem to fade a bit towards the end, but he made a great contribution.
As did Gini Wijnaldum. Again he is another that arguably could be an automatic choice. He has improved massively so this season. Strong, tidy on the ball, works hard and provides a great shield to the back four.
Sadio was his normal effervescent self and, as mentioned above, could have had the match ball.
Bobby Firmino was back to something like his best. His touch was great and his link up player back to his usual high standards. He didn’t seem to carry much of a goal threat however, but that will no doubt return in time.
Mo Salah was a bit in and out though. I thought at times his desire to come in from the right wing onto his left foot became a bit predictable. Maybe too many touches, maybe good defending. But whatever the reason, Bayern were well aware of the potential danger and kept him quiet easily enough it seemed.
Onto The Second Leg
As it is still all to play for of course means that Bayern will fancy themselves, particularly at home. We can go there and get a result though. Of course it will be hard. Very hard. A side that has reached the last four semi finals are obviously no mugs. So, understandably, from a result and a respective performances viewpoint, it is still very much still all to play for.
Onwards and upwards though whatever the result in the second leg. We still have another big prize to go after.
Our Other Team Members
As touched on in previous posts, I feel that the fans are very much a part of the overall team. So how did the fans perform? I thought we were really good in the first half, but faded a bit at times in the second half. In short, we did OK but we could and we should perform better in games coming up.
What are your thoughts? Still all to play for, or game over? We’ll soon find out. Onto our next game. Now who’s that against I wonder?