The week in Liverpool: More than satisfactory
The week in five words
Divock Origi’s goals pay dividends
What went well
BVB are still in with a chance of winning the Bundesliga, they’ve been averaging over three goals a game in the Westfalenstadion, and in Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mats Hummels they have three of the most sought-after players in world football.
Spurs crumbled in front of the Yellow Wall in the last round and many people expected Liverpool to find it just as tough, but if anyone knows how to play against BVB it’s Jurgen Klopp – he signed pretty much the entire squad there after all – and on his return to Dortmund he produced a tactical masterclass that earned the Reds a valuable 1-1 draw.
Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren were immense at the back, Emre Can was dominant in midfield, Philippe Coutinho produced some typical flashes of magic and goalscorer Divock Origi led the line brilliantly.
But for Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller, Liverpool might have even won it. Hands would’ve been snatched off if a 1-1 draw had been offered pre-match, though, and now Liverpool have every chance of seeing the Europa League favourites off on what promises to be a throaty Anfield night on Thursday.
When you’ve drawn away to Borussia Dortmund and beaten Stoke 4-1 three days later, with squad players such as Kolo Toure, Kevin Stewart and Sheyi Ojo getting run-outs no less, then perhaps this is nit-picking, but Liverpool’s vulnerability from set-pieces and crosses in general play continues to have Kopites pulling their hair out.
Hummels’ equaliser in the Westfalenstadion was from a cross after he ended up being marked by Adam Lallana, while Stoke also equalised at Anfield with a Bojan header from a free-kick.
No offence to the vertically-challenge Potters’ forward, but when a Spanish Hobbit is scoring headers against you, then you know there are issues to be resolved.
Unless Klopp can sort out his side’s weakness from crosses, both in play and from set-pieces, the risk of Liverpool’s attacking play being regularly undermined at the other end will remain significant and at some stage that is going to cost them in a big game.
Let’s hope it’s not on Thursday night.
Quote of the week
Any luck in the Grand National work sweep? James Milner organised one at Melwood on Friday and Jurgen Klopp didn’t fancy his nag’s chances. “I only saw Milly’s face when I grabbed the paper! I thought ‘Is it good?’ Oh, no. Sorry, Vic’s Canvas! I am excited a little bit and we will see – maybe Milly will come and give me some money or maybe it was not the best choice. I heard about this race before but had no idea it is next to Liverpool, to be honest. It seems to be a big thing and something special.” I’ve no idea how many places James Milner was paying, but 100/1 shot Vic’s Canvas finished third at Aintree so maybe he owes the boss a few quid.
The need-to-know facts
- Liverpool have won five of their last six league meetings against Stoke, with the other game being a 6-1 loss on the final day of last season.
- Liverpool netted four goals in a game at home for the first time under Jurgen Klopp.
- Both sides scored with their first shot on target on the match.
- Alberto Moreno scored his first Premier League goal since December 2014 (vs Swansea), ending a run of 42 games without a goal.
- James Milner has provided more assists than any other Liverpool player in all competitions this season (10).
- Divock Origi, who netted his first Premier League brace, has scored in back to back games for Liverpool for the first time.
Video/GIF of the week
In 2001, ahead of the Liverpool v Alaves UEFA Cup final, ex-Reds striker Erik Meijer turned up in Dortmund’s Alten Markt and went on the ale with the travelling Kop. On Thursday, ‘Mad Erik’ was back again, and this time he sang You’ll Never Walk Alone…
Winner of the week
Thirty-five years ago, a 22-year-old Scouse striker called Howard Gayle was pitched into a European Cup semi-final second leg away to Bayern Munich after Kenny Dalglish limped off injured.
In just his second appearance he ran Bayern ragged and a 1-1 draw took Liverpool through to the final in Paris.
Divock Origi ‘did a Howard Gayle’ in Dortmund on Thursday. BVB couldn’t cope with his pace, he netted a vital away goal and should’ve had a second when running clean through.
The 20-year-old Belgian then proved he can do it against Stoke on a breezy Sunday afternoon. Expect him to start again on Thursday.
Loser of the week
Lateral collateral damage sounds more like something you’d get in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie than on a football pitch in Germany, but it describes the potentially season-ending knee ligament injury that Jordan Henderson picked up against Borussia Dortmund.
A club statement said the Liverpool skipper could be out for six-to-eight weeks, but Jurgen Klopp was more bullish about Henderson’s recovery time, saying “there is hope” he could return for the Reds’ final two games in May and that he has “no doubt” he’ll be fit for Euro 2016. Maybe, but it’ll be a nervy time for ‘Hendo’.