Liverpool joined Manchester City in the knockout stages of the Champions League after a 1-0 win over Ajax at Anfield, while Pep Guardiola’s side drew in Porto. Find out who enhanced their reputation for the Premier League club after losing hits and misses from the Champions League …
Youngsters impress Klopp
Jજેrgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are currently testing their limits, but the manager will be pleased with the performance of the three youngsters who won 1-0 against Ajax on Tuesday evening.
Neco Williams assisted Curtis Jones to earn the error of Ajax goalkeeper Victor Onana and finish nicely on a distant post for the only goal of the game. At the other end of the pitch, young goalkeeper Komhin Kalehar was innocent for the injured Allison.
This seemed like an important performance by Williams who was in half-time position against Brighton on Saturday considering the fact. Subsequently James Milner suffered a hamstring injury, who chose to return to the right instead of letting Klopp continue the young Welshman, meaning that the Ontus would now leave him to be filled by Trent Alexander-Arnold to fill the void. He replied in style.
Thanks to Callahan’s efforts, Williams was also able to celebrate his role in the clean sheet. It would have been easy for Klopp to turn to the highly experienced Adrian, but his faith in the 22-year-old Irishman was strongly justified. Kelleher made a full stretch stop in the first half, but saved a class-John Huntler header out of the point-blank range that ensured Liverpool had qualified as Group D winners.
It will ease the pressure in Denmark next week and allow Klopp to focus on the team’s Premier League campaign. Liverpool can now do so in the belief that for all injury problems, this is a team that is a little deeper than many people thought.
But those injuries keep coming.
However, while Klopp will rejoice in the victory, and feel more confident about the deputies’ abilities, this was yet another evening in which we discovered that Liverpool could be without Alison to visit the Wolves over the weekend.
The Brazilian goalkeeper has been a big figure in Liverpool’s success since he arrived and if Klopp is without his first-choice goalkeeper on Sunday, he will need his team to improve his record in the competition without him so far this season – 7-2 against Aston Villa and Draw 2-2 with Everton.
At least the war continued by Andrew Robertson. The left side went down with a hefty knock during the first half against Ajax and it looked as if Liverpool would take part in the rest of the game without their first-choice back as well as their goalkeeper.
Robertson not only continues but shining in the second half is proof of his hunger to fight. Liverpool need it – and that spirit – if they will move forward during this difficult period.
Saturday, December 5: Wolf (h)
Mercury December 9: Midgetland (A)
December 13: Fulham (A) – Live on Sky Sports
Wed Dec 16: Tottenham (a)
Saturday 19: Crystal Palace (A)
December 27: West Brom (H) – Live on Sky Sports
The defenses of the table-topping Man City shine
Since Vincent Kompany left Man City 18 months ago, you can hardly claim that Pep Guardiola’s side were solid or at least consistent defensively. However, the change in Man City’s backline is ultimately paying dividends, especially in Europe.
Man City have kept four clean sheets in a row for the first time in the Champions League, with many managing the group stage in conjunction with their last two campaigns – indeed an incredible turnaround.
City limited Porto to just two shots, capturing 311.9 per cent and the hosts had no corners, although it is clear that the hosts formed to defend next to Man City who often see part of the ball. Even after the summer arrival with Eric Garcia and Oleksandr Zinchenko, Reuben Dias will continue to impress behind his back, even as he was given the opportunity to sue.
But take a brief look at the bench, and you have Imeric Laporte, Kyle Waker, Benjamin Mandy and Nathan Ake waiting in all wings. He was joined by John Stones, whose form should be commended for his recent change.
Going forward will be a matter of concern. They have been aimless for the first time in the Champions League group stage, but have 18 shots. Credit should also go to Man of the Match ust Gustin Marchesin, but Guardiola’s side have never been goal-shy.
Ultimately, Man City needs a group to make sure they end up as group leaders, and that’s exactly what it is. That work has been done for now, they must now bring more defensive toughness into the Premier League, especially against local rivals Manchester United live on Sky Sports on Saturday 12 December.
Man City Fixer
Saturday, December 5: Fulham (a)
Wed Dec 9: Marseilles (H)
Saturday 12: Man Utd (a) – Live on Sky Sports
December 15: West Brom (a)
Saturday 19: Southampton (A)
Tue Dec 22: Arsenal (A) – Live on Sky Sports
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