Jurgen Klopp badly needs a player of Alex Teixeira’s quality, Mark Hughes has the better goakeeper and other things we learned from Liverpool 0 Stoke 1
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Teixeira will bring much-needed star quality
It is not difficult to see why Liverpool are trying so hard to prise the prolific Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk in the final days of the January window. Although not a striker in the authentic sense, the Brazilian is both goalscorer and goal creator, something Liverpool are severely lacking from their available forwards. While some allowance must be made for the fact that Teixeira’s staggering goal return this season is mostly in the Ukranian league – 22 strikes from 15 league matches and 26 in 26 in all competitions – he clearly has the pedigree and versatility that Jurgen Klopp craves. If Liverpool can pull off a deal in the next six days, they will bring some much-needed star quality to their attack.
Benteke is merely Plan B
For the fifth time in seven matches, Christian Benteke started on the substitute’s bench and came on in the second half. Despite being the only fit senior striker, the second most expensive player in Liverpool’s history is having to get accustomed to being a Plan B option. In his hour on the pitch, the Belgian did little to suggest he should be Plan A. He offered seemed to need one touch too many and looked out of sync with the more nimble and technical Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana. To his credit, he was cool as a cucumber when he tucked away his penalty in the shoot-out.
Butland is a better keeper than Mignolet
The best goalkeepers exude authority. Jack Butland may only be 22 but already has the presence of a veteran. By contrast, Simon Mignolet, five years his senior, has the permanent air of a man who has left the gas on at home. Despite Liverpool’s crammed fixture list and over-worked defence, Mignolet has barely made a save of note in weeks. Going into the penalty shoot-out the smart money was on Butland to be the hero. But the Belgian gave his reputation a much-needed boost by making two fine saves to steer his team into the final.
Moreno is not learning from his mistakes
That the Spanish left-back lacks defensive nous is hardly a revelation. He is forced into making so many recovery tackles because he gets caught out of position so often. The difficulty for Liverpool is that Alberto Moreno is not learning. Mark Hughes selected the canny Jonathan Walters on the right flank to prey on Moreno’s haphazard positioning and the Irishman got plenty of joy as the Spaniard provided further alarming evidence of his lack of defensive understanding.
Flanagan provides capable cover for Clyne
What a heartening sight it was to see Academy graduate Jon Flanagan make his first Liverpool start in nearly two years. With Nathaniel Clyne injured, Flanagan was handed the tough assignment of shackling the all-round threat of Marko Arnautovic. To the credit of ‘the Scouse Cafu’ he did a reasonable job. Unsurprisingly, Flanagan was blowing as the game wore on and was replaced by Jordan Ibe in the second period of extra time. But he showed that he can be relied upon to deputise for Premier League ever-present Clyne.