The Reds put together a terrific response to their weekend set back against rivals Manchester United by claiming all three points against Genk in the Champions League. The Belgian side are a tough, if small, side given how well they managed to hold Napoli to a goalless draw the match day following Napoli beating Liverpool.
They were certainly not a team to take lightly. And given how Liverpool decided to line up - with both The Admiral Naby Keita and Alexander Oxlade-Chamberlain starting in midfield - it was clear that Jurgen Klopp felt he needed to add a dimension of creativity to unlock a finicky Genk defense.
Thankfully, it all worked rather splendidly with Keita knitting in well throughout a match that saw Liverpool look a lot better going forward, if a bit susceptible in the back. The standout performance, though, belong to Ox, who ended the night w/ a brace of goals outside of the box. In fact, his second - a sumptuous, outside the boot curler into the top of the net - is an early contender for goal of the year and, if I’m being real, goal of the decade. Just an absolutely sublime show of skill.
Given how long Ox was out, all of this felt like a deserved moment for a well-liked player. A proper return of sorts. And based on Jurgen Klopp’s comments during his press conference ahead of the Reds’ Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur, it’s clear that the gaffer feels similarly to the fans.
“It’s no secret how much I like Ox as a person and as a player, but in the end it is about being ready for the specific moments. The goals were incredible, absolutely incredible. The second one, I didn’t see one like this for a long, long, long time, if ever, because it really was a very special moment.”
Jurgen is clearly glad to have the gifted midfielder back in the fold. When asked by people about a potential selection headache with a slight glut of options available in midfielder, the coach just laughed off the suggestion.
“None! If good games of players would give me headaches then my life would be really sad! It is just nice. But it was good – no headache, just a bigger selection, more players to choose from. That’s what I do.”
I’m sure most Liverpool fans feel similar in that while the players may be chomping at the bit to get game time, it must be nice for the manager to be able to have a full-ish complement of players from which to select given considerations to rest as well as opponent.
Tactically, Liverpool had largely struggled this early part of the season to put forth the type of attacking display that helped make scoring look rather easy at times during the last two seasons. Not having the type of midfielders that play the game the way Ox and Keita do has clearly hindered the way Liverpool can set up if the opposition figure out ways to pin the wings back and lock up the channels for the front 3 to run into.
Having both midfielders back and healthy, as both appeared close to full-match fitness, is a boost in that they give a dimension that’s been wholly missing in Liverpool’s game this season. Which is bad news for future opponents of LFC but is certainly welcome news to fans of high-flying football from the Reds.