By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke
Liverpool propelled themselves back to the joint-summit of the Premier League as they ran out 1-0 winners against a spirited Huddersfield side, but the Reds were again far from their best at the Kirklees Stadium.
With the borefest of the international break well and truly over, attentions turned back to the Premier League with the Reds taking on David Wagner’s Huddersfield side in Yorkshire. Jurgen Klopp made many changes to the Liverpool side, with Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum unable to start, and were replaced by Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge.
The game started out frantically, with Huddersfield arguably having the better of the first ten minutes. The Terriers’ pressure mounted as Virgil van Dijk’s backpass to Alisson was dealt with extremely casually, with the Brazilians clearance rebounding off Laurent Depiotre and out for a goal-kick.
Despite being on the backfoot, it was Liverpool who took the lead when Mohamed Salah struck sweetly into the bottom corner from a jinking piece of play from the Swiss Xherdan Shaqiri. Seeing the Egyptian back on the scoresheet will be a very welcome sight for Reds fans. An important goal.
Jonathan Hogg went very close to equalising shortly after with a long range drive which struck the woodwork on Alisson’s goal. Later on in the first half, Huddersfield had a penalty shout that was turned down by Michael Oliver after a header glanced of James Milner’s arm at short range. There wasn’t much the Englishman could do about that, though. No penalty.
The Terriers’ pressure continued as Alex Pritchard poked the ball into the net for what seemingly looked like an equaliser before half-time, however the linesman’s flag was rightly raised and was called offside. Liverpool went into the break with a solid lead, however the performance wasn’t at their usual swashbuckling best.
Gini Wijnaldum came on at half-time for Jordan Henderson, with the Englishman suffering a slight hamstring injury- continuing Liverpool’s horrendous luck over the international break. Daniel Sturridge had two shots within the first five minutes of the half that didn’t threaten the Danish keeper Jonas Lossl.
Five minutes later, Alisson made a well-measured save from Belgian man-mountain Depoitre, whose well directed header was safely gathered by the Brazilian. However, the keeper was rather red-faced after awkwardly slicing a clearance shortly after, nearly letting the Terriers in on goal.
Halfway through the second period, Mo Salah was set through on goal and whist the Egyptian took the ball down expertly, the finish left something to be desired as it trickled harmlessly past the Huddersfield goalpoast. However, Liverpool’s rotten injury luck continued in the second half as Adam Lallana went down injured after a collision with Philip Billing, with the Englishman replaced by Fabinho – who was finally making his Premier League debut for the Reds.
With fifteen minutes to go, Roberto Firmino replaced James Milner- replacing the full English midfield the Reds started with. The exit of Milner also meant that Liverpool had three captains during the game, with Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Virgil van Dijk donning the armband.
Liverpools passing in the final third became increasingly lose as the game wore on, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino guilty of giving the ball away cheaply when attacks were building. Hudderfield’s best chance of the half came through Steve Mounie, after a tentative cross was not cleared by Andy Robertson and was fluffed by both van Dijk and Lovren, but the Benin international skied well over the bar, sparing the blushes of the defence.
After some rare link-up play on the edge of the Huddersfield box involving some neat touches from Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge, the ball fell to Roberto Firmino whose shot was always rising into the stand. Again, the attack looks blunt.
Joe Gomez was caught well out of position in stoppage time as substitute Adama Diakhaby received the ball and ran dangerously deep into the Liverpool area, only being halted by a firm-standing Virgil van Dijk. However, the Reds held on for the win as the final whistle blew, bringing to an end a late surge from Huddersfield.
Whilst three points are exactly what Jurgen Klopp will have wanted, the performance was again far from what we know Liverpool are capable of. With a lack of link-up play in the final third throughout the game, it is important that the Reds address this in the coming weeks.
Fans have been craving for a team to receive absolute pasting for a few months now, but three points is three points and any demolition will have to be put on hold for the time being. Onwards and upwards.
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah