Liverpool and AC Milan enjoy another classic encounter
For two clubs with such history in the competition, that these two were meeting at Anfield for the first time in the Champions League. As with both the encounters previous, the game proved to be a classic, as Liverpool dominated the game but found themselves down 2-1 at Half-time after a rapid-fire brace from the visitors.
Liverpool rallied though, with Mo Salah netting an equaliser just minutes into the second half. It got better still for the Reds, as Jordan Henderson conjured images of Steven Gerrard with a strike from the edge of the box into the bottom corner.
WHAT. A. HIT! 🚀
Jordan Henderson launches a half volley into the corner of the net! No one is stopping a strike like that! 💥
Liverpool have their lead back 💪 pic.twitter.com/YsxcxHe72o
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 15, 2021
This victory means that Liverpool take an early advantage in a group that includes Milan, Porto and Atletico Madrid, with the latter two playing out a 0-0 stalemate.
1. Liverpool’s striking issues are still a problem
One of the biggest surprises upon the release of the team news was the inclusion of Divock Origi, yet to play a minute this season, in the starting line up ahead of Sadio Mane. While Origi did little of note, there was a clear drop-off in quality between Mo Salah, Diogo Jota and the Belgian.
63′ – Our first change as Mane is on for Origi.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2021
Worse still, Divock Origi limped off the pitch midway through the second half with what appeared to be a muscular injury, adding to Jurgen Klopp’s woes and joining Roberto Firmino and Harvey Elliot on the treatment table.
With Sadio Mane and Mo Salah both absent for part of the season due to Africa Cup of Nations commitments, Liverpool’s front line will be weaker still, making the need for a replacement in January even greater.
2. Anfield remains a fortress on European nights
The first 15 minutes reminded those in any doubt just how difficult Anfield is to come to on Champions League nights. After the usual spine-tingling rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, it is not uncommon for the Liverpool ground to fall silent in the Premier League.
In the Champions League, however, it’s a different animal. The crowd roared on their side as they made a blistering start, registering 13 attempts in the first 15 minutes of the encounter.
I know rival fans absolutely hate the cliché but there just is something overwhelmingly intimidating about the way Liverpool start these big European matches at Anfield.
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) September 15, 2021
Liverpool could easily have found themselves more than 1-0 up midway through the first half, with Mo Salah seeing his penalty saved and two Joel Matip headers were straight at the goalkeeper.
It was the Anfield crowd, too, that roared their side on early in the second half at 2-1 down, and that helped their team edge home and get a much needed three points.
Given the perceived difficulty of the tie going into the evening, it was a necessity that Liverpool came out of the blocks quickly. And they did just that.
3. Liverpool still rely on Van Dijk
As already mentioned, Liverpool were by far the better side in the first half, and could have been several goals up by half time. However, they found themselves 2-1 down thanks to a 2 minute brace from the visitors just before the interval.
Star man Virgil Van Dijk was somewhat bizarrely rested for this encounter, leaving Joe Gomez to partner Joel Matip at the heart of the Reds’ defence. Although it was his first game back in over a year, the lack of presence in the form of Van Dijk was evident as Milan scythed through Klopp’s defence in a frenzied period before the break.
The gamble, ultimately, paid off for Jurgen Klopp, but only just.
4. Chelsea may regret selling Fikayo Tomori
For all of their defensive talent at present, Chelsea’s defence sits on a knife edge, All of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta are out of contract in 12 months time, and as of yet none have agreed terms to remain.
There is currently little sign of Chelsea reaching a breakthrough with Rudiger before January (when other clubs can talk), as their offer, worth around £140,000 a week, falls short of his expectations. [Matt Law- Telegraph] #CFC
— CFCDaily (@CFCDaily) September 15, 2021
Perhaps most worryingly, rumours have emerged that Rudiger has no intention of signing a new deal and that, as per Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, talks have stalled as a result.
Tomori, meanwhile, put in another fantastic defensive performance for AC Milan against Jurgen Klopp’s side, making a pair of vital blocks and beginning several good moves for his side.
Tomori for under €30 million at 23 years old is just incredible business, securing that option to buy in January, was one of Maldini’s best moves at Milan
— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) September 15, 2021
Still just 23 years old, it could be a mistake that Chelsea live to rue.
5. It is a huge season for Liverpool’s outcasts
Liverpool, for all of their quality in the first XI, lack quality squad depth. An ageing James Milner, young Curtis Jones and out of favour Alex Oxlade Chamberlain were the substitutions made by Jurgen Klopp against the Italian outfit.
84′ – Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain replace Salah and Henderson.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2021
Milner, while a brilliant servant, is not getting any younger and will likely find himself being used increasingly sparingly. Curtis Jones, on the other hand, will have to redefine his position due to the strength in central midfield with the return of Henderson and Fabinho to their natural position after last season’s crisis.
Both he and Oxlade Chamberlain could find themselves being utilised as auxiliary forwards amid the crisis Klopp seems likely to face, but it feels like a make or break season for the pair.