FC Midtjylland 1-1 Liverpool: Winners and losers as Klopp rotates but VAR negatively intervenes again

In the final European game of 2020, Klopp gave out debuts and opportunities for fringe players to stake their first team claims. Only one took their chance, whilst VAR was used poorly again. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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It was a strange kind of fixture for the Reds as this game was seen as a chance to relax with nothing relying on the outcome. However, with so many changes there was plenty to play for, especially for the six who started but currently find themselves on the fringes of the first team squad.  

On a night where Mohammed Salah became Liverpool’s all-time leading Champions League goal scorer and Trent Alexander-Arnold captained the Reds for the first time, it was a below par display with only a couple of standout performances. 

The game wasn’t short of controversy with VAR getting involved once again to the detriment of Klopp’s side. Firstly, giving a penalty to the Danish side even though Anders Dryer looked like he had strayed offside in the build-up, and then the video assistant denied Minamino the winner in injury time having adjudged that Mané to handle the ball, with replays showing that a Midtjylland defender had handled it instead. 

As frustrating as this all was for the Reds, looking at the bigger picture they generally walked away from the game unscathed. Kostas Tsimikas picked up a slight knock that required him to seek medical attention and be replaced, but with the first XI who did make an appearance, doing so without producing any new injury worries, the Liverpool management will be generally happy with what transpired. 

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With no European football now on the cards until February, Klopp can fully focus on the defence of his Premier League title with the next game against Fulham on Sunday evening. Though their lowly league position, this will be a tough test for the Reds who will be looking to bounce back from this European fixture. 

Here are my winner and loser from the game:



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Another dominant display from the Brazilian who looked extremely comfortable all evening. When the BT Sport commentators are saying “he looks like a Rolls-Royce”, he must be playing well. 

He was excellent in his partnership with Rhys Williams, being that vocal voice that everyone could hear over the microphones in the ground. His distribution was once again impeccable, whilst his aerial ability continues to impress me every game. 

His reading of the game is his major strength that has somewhat made his transition to centre half a lot easier than many expected. How he thinks two or three steps ahead to make the necessary adjustments to affect the game in a positive manner, that would be beneficial to him and the Reds is mind-blowing. 

This was on full display against FC Midtjylland with his goal line clearance just before half time. This isn’t the first time he has done this during the season, with clearances against Ajax and West Ham also coming to mind. This anticipation also helped when he was covering for Tsimikas. With the Greek international struggling somewhat during the first 30 minutes of the first half, Fabinho was there every time to shut down any attack that got past him. 

It feels like he is in the winner’s column most weeks because he is currently at the peak of his powers. His good form has arrived at the ideal time for Liverpool with the long-term injuries to van Dijk and Gomez. With the transfer window now under a month until opening, the 27-year-old has done a stunning job thus far and can return to midfield once a replacement is found.

Leighton Clarkson

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On his Champions League debut and to perform the way he did was exceptional. He didn’t look anxious at all as he stepped into the number six role with complete confidence and owned it throughout the game. It was a mature display that consolidated why Klopp has so much faith in the teenager. 

His ball retention and decision making made him extremely hard to tackle and looked comfortable in the first half picking the right pass in front of him. What stood out was his long-range passing which was spot on all evening. He put Diogo Jota clean through twice, only for the Portuguese to get his first touch completely wrong. 

His anticipation was also a major plus, with interceptions a common theme of his play during the night. He even filled in brilliantly at left back when Tsimikas was off the pitch injured and made a couple of decisive tackles whilst Robertson was preparing to come on. 

As a young man being his first game, he struggled in the physicality side of the game getting brushed off a couple of times. However, he is in the early stages of his footballing career and this should be fully expected at this point. This part of his game will develop in time. 

Overall an outstanding performance. Following in the footsteps of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams, he is the next player off the academy conveyer belt. Hopefully he will be given plenty of opportunities over the next couple of seasons to impress in the first team. A few appearances within the FA Cup campaign once the new year comes round would do him the world of good and help him continue his development.


Divock Origi

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It is really hard seeing him performing the way he is at the moment. The only thing that went to plan during this game was his pressing of the Danish side’s backline. He was tackled heavily early on by Sviatchenko and after getting treatment, looked like he didn’t fancy playing anymore. 

He is really struggling for any form or confidence. Over the last few years at points like this he has put in a performance or run of form that made everyone stand back and go, that is the striker we signed. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen as he falls further and further down the striking pecking order. 

I would love to see the forward have a resurgence and put in the string of performances I mentioned previously, but I just don’t see him being given the opportunity to do it. Klopp now has his four strikers with Shaqiri a valuable back winger when he is available again. This limits Origi’s chances to the FA Cup which heavily depends on how seriously Klopp takes the competition. Based off previous campaigns, he won’t be focusing on this to much.

It is highly likely that this will be Divock Origi’s last season at Anfield. He has achieved so much since signing from Lille. He is an English, European and World champion who could add further titles before the season is out. However, he needs regular playing time and that will only come if he moves on from the Reds in the summer. 

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