A perspective review of the season so far and preview of the Manchester United game by a Liverpool fan – Mushir Ahmed (@mush112).
It has been a season where pragmatic approach has been deployed by Liverpool so far. They have lost only one game, that too against their title rivals – Manchester City. The gung-ho approach has subdued a bit at the expense of a far better defensive mindset and putting the match to bed. The 1-0 victory has become a norm for them this season.
The signing and rise of Alisson Becker and Van Dijk respectively has made sure that they do not concede or lose the lead easily. The Champions League aspiration still remains with a tie against Bayern Munich on the edge.
The biggest challenge for Liverpool in terms of the league is to see off the threat from Manchester United. A team, that was a downhill under Jose Mourinho, and has taken a giant step forward since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
For Liverpool, this week is probably the toughest in their title run-in. They have the game at Old Trafford, before playing Watford in three days time and going away to Everton next weekend.
Any unwanted point loss can make a huge impact on the selection of the league winner. The pragmatic approach will be helpful for Jurgen Klopp’s men, given they can keep the opposition at bay when they have to hold onto a lead.
Coming back to today’s game, United have got grit in their midfield and Marcus Rashford is a threat up front. Hence, Liverpool’s back-line cannot afford to become too high. They need to balance out the threat from the likes of Paul Pogba, Rashford and others.
At the same time, the Liverpool midfielders need to be more proactive in holding the team together and creating chances for a slightly misfiring front three.
As a fan view, I would like to have Xherdan Shaqiri playing instead of Roberto Firmino. The latter has been out of form and hasn’t looked himself, especially since the turn of the year. On the other hand, Shaqiri is an experienced campaigner, who understands the dynamics of the game.
But in hindsight, Firmino should start as he makes the other two – Mane and Salah tick in the front line. We can just hope that the Brazilian plays his best game today.
In the midfield Milner, Fabinho and Wijnaldum can form a perfect partnership. Fabinho can sit deep and protect the back-line, while Milner and Wijnaldum can protect the wide midfield spaces and also join the attacks, when required.
Now a small suggestion to Salah and Mane – they need to calm down. There is no need to score 10 goals and hurry the opposition. Most of the time the latter loses his composure when in front of goal.
Against Bayern, the Senegalese star had at least 2-3 clear chances to put the ball in the net but poor judgment and lack of proper thinking at last moment destroyed the chance.
My tactic would be to play on the counter, which we are good at. United won’t sit back, especially this being the home game, hence, we can sit back a bit and hit them on the counter with pace of Salah and Mane.
I have full faith in our good and solid defensive line-up to do the job, unless someone has every bad day. It will be a tight game but I hope the Reds take the three points. YNWA!!