Christian Benteke must start against Chelsea: Five things we learned from Liverpool 1 Southampton 1
By Coral Barry
Christian Benteke is the only viable spearhead available, it will take time for Jurgen Klopp to remedy defensive faults and other things we learned from Liverpool 1 Southampton 1
Benteke is the only viable striker option
The difference between the two Belgian strikers used by Liverpool today was stark. Divock Origi ran gamely but was raw, ineffective and powderpuff. Half-time substitute Benteke was the real deal. He instantly livened up the team with his physical presence and scored a header from 12 yards out that was out of the very top drawer. Benteke’s strength and quality, combined with a track record that has yielded 15 goals in his last 20 Premier League appearances, makes him the only viable spearhead for Klopp’s team in the absence of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings.
Liverpool’s soft centre remains
A Klopp himself said this week, he cannot perform miracles within days of taking the Anfield helm. Despite the players buying into the new manager’s greater pressing demands, there are obvious deficiencies in the team’s rearguard. Virgil van Dijk was allowed a free header from a free-kick in the first half and then Mane snuck in unchecked at the back post to get Southampton’s equaliser. Any push for fourth will be seriously hampered unless Klopp can remove the team’s self-destruct button. With seven draws in eight games, and just one clean sheet since August, the revolution looks like it will be a slow one.
Mane is a snip at £20million
Last year Liverpool paid £20million for Lazar Markovic from Benfica and this week reports are suggesting that Manchester United have been told they can have Sadio Mane for the same price. The winger looks good value at that price. While Mane has three goals and four assists in his last seven league appearances, Markovic is out in the loan wilderness at Fenerbache. Tormenting Liverpool’s defenders today with his pace and incisive runs, Mane is developing into a Premier League star.
Moreno no longer a rabbit caught in headlights
Alberto Moreno is starting to turn his Anfield career around. A wonderful last-ditch tackle to deny Mane in the box on the hour mark was the high point of a boundlessly energetic display, even if his final ball remains a source of great frustration. The 23-year-old stuttered through his first season and was then overlooked in favour of teenager Joe Gomez, a centre-back by trade, at the start of the new campaign. Yet Moreno has embraced the regime change and has excelled at both ends of the pitch since Klopp took over.
Milner will be badly missed at Chelsea
James Milner picked up his fifth yellow card of the season today and must now sit out the Chelsea match next Saturday. The midfielder had created 20 chances before today and, in his new right-flank role, provided the pinpoint cross for Benteke’s spectacular headed goal. The former Manchester City midfielder has also run more kilometres than any other Liverpool player this season and has lead from the front as stand-in captain. Klopp must now go to Stamford Bridge without once of his most creative and influential players.