Football Features

“Klopp will want to raise the standards” – Winners & losers as Liverpool edge past brave Genk

By Chris Smith

Published: 22:07, 5 November 2019

Liverpool had to dig deep to earn a 2-1 win over Genk on Tuesday in their 400th match in international competitions.

Having been thumped 4-1 on home soil by Jurgen Klopp’s men last month, the Belgian champions came to Anfield and put on a brave, expansive performance and – on another night – could have shocked Liverpool.

In the end, goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain either side of a Mbwana Samatta equaliser got the Reds over the line. Attention now turns to their title showdown with Manchester City on Sunday.

But before then, here are the winners and losers from Tuesday night.

Winner: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Oxlade-Chamberlain just loves playing Genk!

The England international scored two beautiful goals against the Belgian champions during the reverse of this fixture last month and on Tuesday, after a relatively frustrating opening 45 minutes, was on target once again just after the half-time break.

Despite not being as thunderously spectacular as his double in Belgium, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s strike was no less impressive, with the former Arsenal man doing brilliantly to find the bottom corner on the turn with his weaker foot after being picked out by Mohamed Salah.

That’s four goals in his last three starts now for Oxlade-Chamberlain across Champions League and Carabao Cup games, which will be doing wonders for his confidence and fitness as he continues his recovery from injury.

Loser: Liverpool’s defence

Liverpool have been absolutely relentless this season, dispatching with almost everything before them (apart from Napoli). That’s actually made all the more remarkable by the fact that they’ve now kept just three clean sheets in 19 games across all competitions so far this season, with none of those coming at Anfield.

Genk’s equaliser really was a shocker, with Fabinho allowing Samatta to run off him far too easily from the corner, while James Milner just couldn’t get off the front post quick enough to cover the space after the ball had gone over the head of Oxlade-Chamberlain. In fact, the Belgian side posed a threat throughout the night and could have easily found themselves ahead if only they had just been a little more clinical.

Liverpool aren’t exactly ‘leaking goals’ but, still, with Manchester City sure to chase them hard for the Premier League title all season, and some truly phenomenal attacking talents awaiting them in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, Klopp will be working hard to raise the standards even higher and tighten things up at the back.

Jurgen Klopp jokes about Aston Villa game

Winner: Pep Guardiola

He would probably tell you otherwise, but Pep Guardiola will have been watching this game and is likely licking his lips at the prospect of unleashing the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero at that Liverpool defence.

Maybe it was just lack of concentration thanks to a slightly sub-par opponent, but as mentioned, Liverpool were far from convincing at the back on Tuesday and allowed Genk to get six shots on goal, forcing Alisson into a few smart saves.

Anfield will be rocking on Sunday and Liverpool likely much more at the races, but Guardiola will have found obvious weaknesses in Klopp’s side here and will be drawing up his battle plans in earnest.

Loser: Genk

Tuesday’s defeat means Genk have now played 16 games in the Champions League group stages, but are yet to pick up their first victory – no team in competition history has waited longer than the Belgian champions.

In fairness, they can take great heart from a very positive performance at Anfield and will look to use the confidence from it to turn around their rather patchy domestic form.

However, they will leave Merseyside with an underlying feeling of regret for not taking a point at the very least, having pushed Liverpool all the way. In fact, they tested the Reds so much that on another night, with more clinical strikers, they could have pinched a win at the home of the European champions.

For now, though, the wait goes on.

Winner: Naby Keita

It’s been a frustrating spell on Merseyside so far for Naby Keita but he really looked like he enjoyed himself against Genk on Tuesday and will take a huge amount of confidence from his 74-minute performance.

The Guinea international was assured on the ball, completing three dribbles to drive Liverpool forward in possession and displaying a lovely range of passing at a success rate of 94% – the highest of any starting outfield player on the night.

 

In what was an extremely accomplished all-round performance, Keita also did a brilliant job shutting down Genk counter-attacks with four tackles – more than any other Liverpool player during the time he was on the pitch.

Sure, a strong performance against a Champions League minnow isn’t going to put him into the reckoning for Liverpool’s clash with Man City at the weekend – or any other Premier League game for that matter – but this will be a massive mental boost for Keita and you can be sure that it didn’t go unnoticed with Klopp either, who will surely be taking another look at that midfield pecking order.

 

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