Simon Mignolet is an accident waiting to happen, Christian Benteke needs to add greater movement to his game and other things we learned from Liverpool 2 Bordeaux 1.
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Mignolet is Liverpool’s weakest link
The Belgian goalkeeper got his just desserts when the rules were correctly applied in the first-half and a free-kick was awarded to Bordeaux when he held on to the ball for 20 seconds – more than three times longer than the legally permitted six. It was nonsensical and unnecessary from Mignolet, who is a serial offender in such situations. He then compounded the howler by getting his positioning awry and being a virtual spectator as the 16-yard free-kick from Henri Saivet arrowed into the top corner. Migonlet has gone under the radar during the early weeks of Jurgen Klopp’s reign but regular Anfield observers get nervous every time he is in possession of the ball. It is hard to deny that he is Liverpool’s weakest link.
Klopp will be busy on Thursday evenings in the new year
Victory in this clash has guaranteed Liverpool’s progress to the last 32 of the interminably lengthy Europa League. The Anfield faithful, wary of the debilitating effects of Thursday night football, might not be cracking open the Dom Perignon. But it is a decent achievement for Jurgen Klopp, who took over the reigns when the Merseysiders were struggling to conjure a chance from open play, never mind hit the back of the net. The cup competitions represent the best chance of Klopp having a trophy to show for his first season in charge. And Liverpool are still in the mix in the early months of 2016. There is something to be said for that.
Benteke needs to do more to convince Klopp
Yes, he dispatched his fifth goal of the season with power and accuracy, not to mention superb technique. And the Belgian spearhead had the ball in the back of the net on two other occasions only for them to be disallowed. But Benteke must do more to ensure he is a nailed-on starter for each game. Ignored for a starting role last weekend as Philippe Coutinho and company ran amok at Manchester City, even Daniel Sturridge’s never-ending ailments do not allow him a free run at the centre-forward position. The sense is Klopp wants his front man to be dynamic for the entire match and not just in fits and spurts. Benteke’s movement was often sluggish tonight and, for a player with significant physical attributes, he did not quite put his body on the line as much as he could when crosses were fed into the box. The £32.5million signing has settled in reasonably well since his summer switch from Aston Villa but needs to do more to convince his manager.
This was a significant win
It wasn’t pretty. But it was effective. Liverpool clinched a rare home win as they overcame Bordeaux to secure a place in the Europa League knockout stages. Given the lack of goals, wins and general fun at Anfield this season, such an achievement should not be sniffed at. This did not have the excitement or sophistication of the Manchester City mauling last Saturday but is a significant win, nonetheless.
Sturridge cannot be relied upon
As inevitable as night following day, the bulletin from Klopp arrived pre-match that Daniel Sturridge had added a foot injury to his lengthy list of physical ailments. Already on first-name terms with the world’s eminent physicians, the England international will once again nervously await the result of scans to find out the extent of the damage. While there must be a degree of sympathy for a player who spends so much time in the treatment room, it is clear that Klopp cannot rely upon the striker’s fitness. If he is available, great. Otherwise, plan for him to be absent. Darren Anderton eat your heart out.