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Football News: Liverpool v Napoli - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Napoli - A Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v Napoli A Liverpool Perspective

 

What a game! Liverpool never seem to do things the easy way. If Mane and Salah had their shooting boots on then that match is a stroll in the park with Napoli completely outdone. Surprisingly so as Ancelotti's strength is getting teams up and his tactics right for one off games like this. Over the course of a league season, his teams often underperform, as he does tend to be managing exceptional teams, but he normally gets it right for key games and gets results.

The Napoli performance was almost tame, they had no answer at all for Liverpool, while the Liverpool players all raised their game and, apart from Salah who did that at the weekend instead, every single one put in their best performance of the season. Even Salah's game was only marginally below his hat-trick, purely because his finishing was just not quite there, other than the wonderful goal he scored to win it.

It seemed like Ancelotti's plan was to hold on for dear life and try to snatch something on the break. When it was not working, he did not seem to know how to change it. Really the game was surprisingly one-sided, but remained on a knife edge purely because Liverpool failed to make the most of their chances, rather than because of anything Napoli did.

Have to mention the referee though, he was utterly abysmal. Yes, he did get the decision right to give van Dijk a yellow, but purely because his assistant/s helped him out. Like just about everyone else in the stadium, he had completely missed the follow through. He also missed just about everything else that happened as well. If there was a decision to be made, he got it wrong almost every single time. One of the worst refereeing performances I have ever seen. He is not even inexperienced, having officiated at Liverpool games four times previously in Europe.

 

Ancelotti - completely outdone, surprisingly so as he had the better of Klopp in the previous game. This was just as one-sided and he had just as little an idea of how to change it. His subs were poor and just played into Liverpool's hands. Rating: 1.5.

 

Ospina - the difference between him and Alisson is night and day. When Napoli attacked the defending felt calm and they had confidence in the keeper. When Liverpool went forward the defence was having panic attacks and clearly did not feel safe with him behind them. It is not that he played badly, but the understanding was not really there. He personally did not play so badly, but it just did not seem like he fits there with the defence yet. Rating: 5.5.

 

Maksimovic - struggled badly, though, to be fair to the lad, he was out of position. If the referee had not been so kind to him, giving him a number of undeserved free kicks, he would have had one of the worst nights of his career. Rating: 3.

 

Albiol - had a really poor night, surprisingly as he has been good since joining Napoli, but last night he was all over the place. Unlike his partner in central defence, he was all over the wrong places. Rating: 2.

 

Koulibaly - without him this could have been a cricket score, he was everywhere and was virtually playing as the entire defence on his own at times. He must have been exhausted by the end of the night carrying the 3 cretins alongside him! Rating: 9.

 

Mario Rui - awful, awful performance. Salah was able to run past him at will. He may as well have not been there at all for all the effect he had. Rating: 1.

 

Callejon - anonymous is probably the kindest description for his game. When he did get on the ball he mainly made a mess of things. Rating: 3.5.

 

Allan - worked extremely hard, fought his corner but was overrun in midfield and swamped time and time again. Actually did really well but he was given no chance by the Liverpool midfield and Firmino tracking back all in his area of the pitch. To make matters worse, there were times when Mane and Salah wandered into there as well. Yet he showed real strength and won a lot of battles only to then lose out to another Liverpool player. Rating: 6.5.

 

Hamsik - looked completely lost and unable to cope with the pace of the game. On the ball he is a very good player, but he barely even saw it, let alone got to use it. Rating: 5.

 

Ruiz - terrible game, turned over the ball a few times and made a number of mistakes. Little wonder he got the shepherd's crook early doors. Rating: 2.

 

Insigne - very disappointing from such a talented player. To be fair he got very little service, but he did not do enough to help out in midfield to win the possession back. Shame for Napoli, as it meant that they were completely outnumbered in the midfield area. Rating: 4.5.

 

Mertens - was never in the game, like Insigne he got very little service and did not do enough to help out in midfield. Rating: 5.

 

Subs:

Zielinski - replaced Ruiz in the 62nd minute. Never really got into the game much, made a couple of attempts to put the ball in but did not get them right. Rating: 4.

Milik - took the place of Mertens in the 67th minute. I have no idea why Ancelotti thought bringing on Milik would help. He is the kind of player van Dijk loves to play against and just made it easier for him. Rating: 4.

Ghoulam - brought on in 83rd minute to replace Mario Rui. Looked exactly like what he is - a player coming back off a long injury lay off and very rusty. Rating: 5.

 


Klopp - reverted back to his tried and trusted formation and team for this one and it worked perfectly. Napoli were completely overwhelmed and struggled to get hold of the ball. They were pushed back deep and just holding on for long periods. Rating: 8.

 

Alisson - when needed he comes up big, it is not very often but he does it every time. While he does always misplace a pass or two during a game, he makes so many that is bound to happen. He inspires confidence throughout the team with the way he is so calm. Liverpool's defence has improved markedly thanks to his presence. Rating: 8.5.

 

Alexander-Arnold - had a really good game going forward, causing no end of problems down the right and almost always available. Delivered some excellent crosses at times. There were a couple of times he was exposed defensively and he still is not entirely comfortable when players attack him. Often he will get caught upfield chasing the ball. Rating: 7.5.

 

Matip - looks a totally different player this season, in the few games he has played. He still looks a bit sluggish and struggles to accelerate but his defending has much improved. There are still tendencies to lose positioning, he still can concede possession with a poor pass in the wrong area, but he has become much more aggressive and does not give forwards an easy ride like he could be guilty of in previous seasons. Rating: 7.

 

van Dijk - absolutely immense. This was the kind of performance you expect from a world record signing. He was not as conspiciously excellent as Koulibaly, but he was having a better game, in part because he was not trying to carry three defensive team-mates and partly because his passing is so much better. Rating: 9.5.

 

Robertson - his passing was awful at times, yet he still managed to play really well. It is a testament to his attitude that even when one aspect of his game is not at its best he does not let it affect him. He can get caught in odd positions defensively, he is usually the one who is deepest when the defence tries to play offside, but it never cost the team. Rating: 8.5.

 

Wijnaldum - had an excellent performance. It was the Wijnaldum that Liverpool fans had been waiting to see. Not just did he play well, but he also showed aggression and drove forward at every opportunity. There was none of the usual playing safe, he just gave it everything, though you could see he was struggling by the end. Rating: 8.5.

 

Henderson - controlled the midfield excellently. Broke up play, hounded opponents and played some excellent incisive passes. A true captain's role. Rating: 9.

 

Milner - when even James Milner is going down with cramp, then you know that he has put in some hard yardage. He was everywhere, covering both full-backs at times, getting into wide areas, breaking into the box and chasing back to tackle. Rating: 9.

 

Mane - if only he had his shooting boots on this game would have been out of sight. Despite carrying a foot injury, he created chances and got on the end of some, but just was unable to finish any of them. Could so easily have had a hat-trick. Rating: 8.

 

Salah - scored a brilliant goal, could so easily have had a few more as well. Absolutely destroyed Rui and then Ghoulam and forced Koulibaly to cover repeatedly. Could it be a similar story to last season? Is he hitting form just when the team needs him to? Rating: 8.5.

 

Firmino - I actually feel Firmino did not get the credit he deserved in that game. His passing was off, yes, but there were times he did some lovely things. There was also the moment he chased back 50 yards+ to keep pressure on a Napoli player who was breaking forward and forced the Neapolitan into scuffing a pass which went to Robertson. The Kop immediately began to chant Robertson's name after that, as if it was all down to him, when Firmino did 90% of the work to get the ball back! His control and hold up play was exceptional, it is a shame his passing was not at it. Rating: 7.5.

 

Subs:

Keita - replaced Firmino in the 79th minute. He did ok, but it was a difficult game to come into at that stage, with a number of Liverpool players starting to flag and the team as a whole caught between wanting to get more goals and not wanting to get caught on the break. Rating: 5.5.

Fabinho - came on in place of Milner in the 85th minute. He did miss his first attempt at a headed clearance, but he made a number of headed clearances after that as Napoli just flung the ball into the box, more in hope than expectation. Rating: 6.

Lovren - came on in the 90th minute as Alexander-Arnold was taken off. Had to play the final moment at right-back and never looked fully comfortable but also never let anyone down. Rating: 5.

 

Just to explain my ratings. I have gone for what I believe is more simple than the usual of totting up points. I have decided to go with 5 as having no effect on the game other than being a body on the pitch. Anything below 5 is a player who had a negative effect on his team and anything above 5 as a positive effect. So a goal scored would be a positive effect and add to the rating, whereas giving away a penalty with a needless challenge would take away from it.

Written by Tris Burke December 13 2018 07:46:53

 

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