In the space of five days all the previous work of the past three months for Liverpool was undone. The impressive 4-3 win over Manchester City in our last league outing at home was followed by a disappointing 1-0 defeat in South Wales against Swansea and a sobering 3-2 defeat at the hands of West Brom at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp needs to turn thing around before they reach the levels of unravelling that they did this time last year. Going to Huddersfield, for any other team, would be the perfect opportunity to stop the rot before it sets in – this is Liverpool though and it’s never that easy.
Jurgen Klopp decided to ring the changes ahead of this game, starting in goal where Simon Mignolet reassumed his place on the bench in place of Loris Karius. Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren and Andy Robertson came back into the defence, while James Milner and Jordan Henderson started in midfield. The usual front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah took their places up front. David Wagner decided this would be a goodtime to change his formation, moving from his tried and trusted 4-4-2 to a more unfamiliar 5-3-2. New Signing Terence Kongolo started alongside Mathias Jorgensen and Christopher Lowe in the centre of defence. Danger man Aaron Mooy would take his usual position in midfield, while Laurent Depoitre and Steve Mounie both started up front.
The game started with Liverpool seeing most of the ball, as Huddersfield tried to put every man in front of it. Wagner had clearly done his homework on Liverpool and his formation and gameplan was clearly set up to frustrate us. The Terriers had no interest in actually winning possession in the opening stages, instead choosing to close down the space and give Klopp’s boys little room to play in. Liverpool struggled to create clear chances, putting in low crosses which weren’t finding their mark. Huddersfield did eventually show some bad intentions towards Liverpool though and started to make chances, the best coming when Depoitre found himself in space on the penalty spot only to side foot a shot straight at Karius. The game would have a goal though – and it would be a Liverpool one.
With twenty six minutes gone in the game Andy Robertson took control of the ball down the left flank in an advanced position. He whipped the ball into the area and Jorgensen was able to easily head it away from danger. However, his head was weak and it fell to Emre Can about twenty yards from goal. He let it bounce twice before hitting it on the half-volley. It deflected off the heel of Philip Biling, who had rushed out to close down the shot, on its way past Jonas Lossl and into the Huddersfield net. Liverpool had an equaliser that most Reds would have doubted they were able to get in this situation, yet, nevertheless, it was one they deserved.
After the goal, Liverpool continued to dominate the play. Huddersfield seemed comfortable though and it looked as though that goal could be the only one we would get. Anybody who thought that way would be proven wrong on just before half time.
Some lovely inter-play from Liverpool thirty yards from goal saw Roberto Firmino touch the ball into acres of space in the Huddersfield box. He took a touch to steady himself, looked up and missed his opportunity to pick out the unmarked shirts of Mane and Salah. Just when it looked like he had squandered this glorious chances, he took another touch and beat Lossl at his near post to make it 2-0. It was typical Brazilian brilliance and put clear daylight between the two teams just as the referee was about to blow his whistle for the break. Jurgen Klopp will have been delighted with his team’s ability to break down this stubborn opposition. David Wagner will have been wondering how his foolproof plan had gone so awry.
The second half picked up where the first finished – with Liverpool controlling the play. Huddersfield continued to show little intent on attacking, whereas The Reds were happy to see most of the ball. We started to hit more diagonal balls into the area for Sadio Mane in particular to attack. He had to golden opportunities to score with his head, the first being easily saved by Lossl and the second drifting just wide of the on-loan Dane’s goal. Huddersfield brought on Colin Quaner to add more energy up front and it initially paid off. His constant closing down of Lovren and Matip was causing the centre back pairing trouble, though seemed relatively untroubled by Quaner’s team-mates. In the end though it wouldn’t matter. Not after the seventy eighth minute.
Emre Can came forward down the Liverpool left and played in Mo Salah on the edge. He was dispossessed and the ball ricocheted back into the path of Can, who had ghosted into the Huddersfield area. As he went to take his first touch, Philip Biling barged into the back of him and bundled him into the ground. Without hesitation, the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the penalty spot. Mo Salah stepped up to take the responsibility away from James Milner and duly delivered by putting Liverpool 3-0 up. The relief in the red end was palpable as these situations usually do not end well – just ask Christian Benteke.
The goal knocked any fight Huddersfield had out of them. The clock ticked down and the home side put up little fight in a game they had clearly lost. Liverpool too lost interest in adding to the scoreline with the job seemingly done. When the result was finally confirmed by the referee, the celebrations were those of a relieved travelling support.
Let’s get one thing straight here – Liverpool deserved their win. Not only did we have 75% possession overall, we took the chances we were given. Huddersfield struggled in part, which might be down to the new formation that Wagner employed for this game, but you can only beat what is put in front of you as the old saying goes. We have been criticised in the past couple of games for not creating enough clear cut chances despite controlling the possession. Last night we took the half chances that came out way with aplomb.
We are now five points clear of Spurs, who come to Anfield on Sunday after facing Manchester United tonight. A win on Sunday could potentially see us move eight points clear of our fifth placed opponents. Is right.