By Aaron Olsen – @AO_GoLong13
A tough run of six fixtures in September yielded four wins out of six, the first defeat of the season, and plenty of talking points.
Liverpool 2 – 1 Leicester City (King Power Stadium)
Liverpool 2 – 1 Tottenham (Wembley)
Liverpool 3 – 2 PSG (Anfield)
Liverpool 3 – 0 Southampton (Anfield)
Liverpool 1 – 2 Chelsea (Anfield)
Liverpool 1 – 1 Chelsea (Stamford Bridge)
Liverpool fought through plenty of tough teams throughout September and showed even while not at their best, their ‘okay’ performances can still produce results.
Key talking Points
While many pundits are making the most of Mo Salah’s ‘drought’, the fact is he’s still popping up in the right spots in front of goal and in possession. The drought should be pointed to his decision making in this aspect of his game, as he hasn’t quite clicked yet in making the right decision at the critical junctures of the matches.
As seen last year, it was at this point where he really took off and began to be more clinical. He still doesn’t look quite right mentally, and who can blame him getting hurt during Liverpool’s title game vs Real Madrid, as well as the Egypt FA spat looming in the back of his mind. I still feel we’ll see a better Salah in October as Jurgen Klopp should help him mentally to turn it around.
Alisson Becker really proved his transfer fee during September’s fixtures as his distribution and instincts to prevent goals (especially at Stamford Bridge) have most Reds fans feeling quite comfortable when he’s in goal. Of course we could dwell on the mistake made vs Leicester City, but that seems a good while ago as he wasn’t close to making that same mistake the rest of the month. His presence will only continue to help the defence stay solid as the team to concede the least amount of goals in the Premier League.
The midfield will always be looked at as the focal point in all fixtures, as it seems to be where the majority of Klopp’s games are won and lost. While the trio of Henderson, Milner and Wijnaldum might lack the creative gusto to break down so-called bus-parking teams, they are crucial in pressing and the defensive work they provide in the big matchups. It has surprised me to see Naby Keita not hit top form yet, as it seemed in pre-season he’d hit the ground running with no problems. It seems he’s still having to take time to learn exactly what Klopp wants from him, but we should give him time to gel to his new surroundings and teammates.
My immediate thought after the match against PSG was that that was Daniel Sturridge’s most complete performance in a Liverpool shirt since that season in 13-14. My guess is most Liverpool fans were quite nervous to see him lead the line in a big match in the Champions League, but he did provide a level of pressing and defensive work we’ve possibly never seen from him since he suffered his infamous injury setbacks.
He was a big highlight this month providing three goals and saving a crucial point against Chelsea away. All fans would be delighted if his impact is this big during his time on the pitch going forward. We can only hope and pray that his body for the first time in months can handle 60-90 minutes a week playing for Liverpool.
Anfield is magical during Champions League games. Under the right manager and team, something different just seems to happen under the floodlights after the Champions League theme song plays before kick-off. The hounding work our entire time provided against PSG I think has pinpointed what I’m guessing Klopp drilled into the players in pre-season. If our entire teams players commits to their defensive work, silverware shoud be won over the course of the season.
Nothing made me smile more than seeing Mohamed Salah track back over half the pitch to not let Neymar have an easy time on the ball. Jordan Henderson, while albeit not having the speed to keep up with Neymar, was key as he wouldn’t let Neymar ever rest after he got the ball. Firmino’s one-eyed goal was delightful to bring three points straight away in the Champions League.
Four points from away matches in London would have been welcomed by anyone at the beginning of the campaign, while both games were very different, the results are exactly what we needed to stay in the title hunt. I’m still shocked to see how quickly Chelsea have taken to Sarri’s system, but I think they couldn’t have played any better versus Klopp’s Reds, and to come away with a point from a venue we normally struggle at is a welcomed sight.
Goal of the month
Sturridge away at Chelsea (as if you even needed to think about any of the other goals). It was an absolute stunner and couldn’t have come at a better time as it prevented us from dropping three points for the first time this season. Perfectly placed, perfectly timed, perfect.
Player of the month
Virgil van Dijk- He seems to only get better the more he dons the famous Liverpool kit, but he demands everyone to be better at all times. His aerial presence, along with his booming voice provided the results we achieved this month. His growing partnership with Joe Gomez should continue to improve as they learn each other’s tendencies in critical moments of the season.
Looking ahead to OctoberOctober 3 vs Napoli (away)- Champions League
October 7 vs Manchester City (home)- Premier League
October 20 vs Huddersfield (away)- Premier League
October 24 vs Red Star Belgrade (home) – Champions League
October 27 vs Cardiff City (home) – Premier League
Obviously the home game against Manchester City means so much, but it should be noted if the result isn’t what we get, the season isn’t over. With both teams so evenly matched, it should prove to be an extremely well-contested game. What’s crucial is six points in the league and at least four more in the CL.
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