When Liverpool score first, they win. Thus, it was a good decision by the Reds to take the lead in this one, for only the third time in ten games this season. They scored last too, and frankly, should have scored a couple in between. They won deservedly, is the point, and with Ajax getting thumped in Naples, another group win should see second place well withing reach for Jürgen Klopp’s men.
Below, we dig into some of the narratives of the night, and look at which players stood out in an overall solid display.
The Ascent of Trent: We are very tired of the Trent Discourse here at TLO towers, and after another round of national team drama was followed by an uneven performance against Brighton, the fullback stood up and took matters into his own hands tonight.
Taking up a more traditional — and slightly more conservative — overlapping fullback role, the scouser was largely imperious on the night, racking up four tackles — no player on the pitch had more — to go with his more telling contribution, a picture perfect curler into the top corner to open the scoring.
No doubt you’ve seen the replays, and the club’s YouTube channel will plaster this across the site from every conceivable angle in the coming weeks, but it really, truly deserves it. After Darwin Núñez was fouled outside the box, Trent Alexander-Arnold stepped up and provided a textbook example of a curling free kick, bending it home from 25 yards, well out of the reach of a diving Allan McGregor.
The Greek Scouser: Andy Robertson is broadly considered to be one of the best, if not the number one, left fullbacks on the planet over the past half decade, but many forget that when he first arrived at Anfield, he was behind Alberto Moreno in the pecking order, as the Spaniard was putting in a string of terrific performances, by far his best run in a red shirt since signing from Sevilla back in 2014.
A long-term injury to Moreno gave Robertson his chance, and once he had his hands on a place in the team, he never relinquished it.
Robertson is currently injured, and Kostas Tsimikas is playing lights out at left-back. It may take more from the Greek to push Robertson out of the starting XI than was the case with Moreno back then, but the performances at this point should absolutely have the manager thinking about things.
While not quite as dynamic as the maniac Scot, Kostas is a better man defender, arguably makes fewer positional errors, and has added some zip to his deliveries from the flank — both in open play and from set pieces — that Reds attackers are salivating over. He’d start for about 18 other teams in the league, and if he keeps this up, might make himself first choice on Merseyside as well.
The Darwin xG Slingshot: That thing is good and loaded at this point. The Uruguayan’s hot start to his Liverpool career was seriously hampered by an idiotic red card suffered at Crystal Palace in only his third official match for the club, and getting back into the swing of things has taken longer than fans — and the player — would have wanted, not least because no goals have been scored since the trip to Fulham on August 6th.
That does not mean the 23-year old has been playing badly, however, and, more than anything, he just gets so many shots. Núñez racked up another six tonight, putting four on target, and in 311 minutes of first team action this season he has taken 29 shots. That comes out to an absolutely preposterous 8.4 shots per 90 minutes, and the fact that the man has only scored two goals in that run is entirely improbable.
He works the channels tirelessly, is found by team-mates consistently, and makes good contact with the ball more often than not. A lack of technical finesse in tight spaces and a tendency to tense up at the critical moment might be hampering his topline output yet, but that continued ability to simply generate shots should see the former Benfica man blossom sooner rather than later.
Old Man Allan: The Reds didn’t make things tremendously difficult for 40-year old Allan McGregor, putting a number of shots directly at the veteran goalkeeper, but he did make eight saves on the night, including an instinctive palm to touch a fizzing Diogo Jota effort inches over the bar in the second half, and despite the result, the backup keeper should be happy with his effort.
Rangers, I guess? It was a pretty good night at Anfield, to be honest. The scoreline didn’t quite reflect the Reds’ dominance and it would have been nice to get into positive goal difference, but like, this was just solid across the board.
Rangers are finishing the group in last place though. Sucks for them.
What Happens Next
No biggie, just high-flying league leaders Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday, then a trip to Ibrox next Wednesday to hopefully solidify the grip on second place in the Champions League group, before a visit from Manchester City and their unstoppable hat-trick machine the following Sunday. That’s in the next 12 days.