Despite a promising first-half performance and a late strike from Lucas Torreira, our winning start to the season came to an end on Saturday as we were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool.
But what did we learn from our clash at Anfield? Read on to find out...
A WORK IN PROGRESS
Saturday's game at Liverpool showed us how far we have come under Unai Emery - and how far we still have to go. Our last visit to Anfield was a miserable experience, culminating in a 5-1 defeat that might have been even worse. This time we saw a sizeable improvement, especially in a first-half display that almost saw our gameplan work to perfection. Soaking up pressure with a compact midfield four in front of our back four, the priority was to release the pace of Pepe and Aubameyang behind an advanced Liverpool defence. Auba should have scored when he lofted a mistimed clearance from Adrian back towards goal, and Pepe almost found the top corner before squandering a one-on-one after racing through. Lapses either side of the break condemned us to defeat, but on this evidence we are moving in the right direction.
Not many forwards will give Liverpool as much trouble as Pepe did on Saturday. Our record signing's pace was our major counter-attacking weapon at Anfield and we used it effectively, especially in the first half. Pepe became the first player since March 2018 to dribble past Virgil van Dijk - the most niche stat of the day - and it set the tone for a lively performance from the Ivorian. One outrageous turn took Robertson out of the game on the halfway line and one stunning shot almost found the top corner. Pepe's big regret will be the one-on-one chance he missed - he seemed to rush his finish having done all the hard work of getting away from the Liverpool defence. But overall this was a bright, positive display.
THE FINISHED ARTICLE
Jurgen Klopp has had longer than Unai to mould his team, and they are now a formidable force. Salah will get the headlines for scoring two more goals but Firmino deserves an honourable mention for the way he dropped into pockets of space to link play, turn past opponents and find teammates with clever flicks. But when Liverpool can't go through the centre - and we closed off that path impressively in the first half - they simply go wide. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson delivered 24 crosses from open play in the first half alone, and it's hugely frustrating that we dealt with each of them only to succumb to an Alexander-Arnold corner.
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