In light of Liverpool’s first truly meaningful loss of the season, perspective is important. The Reds are joint-top of the Premier League and are still well-placed to progress to the Champions League knockouts with back-to-back games against relative minnows Red Star to come.
Still, the quite shambolic nature of the performance must be recognised. Some will dismiss it as an ‘off night’, while others may see genuine cause for concern.
Below is an attempted summation of the reasons for a thoroughly deserved defeat.A poor start sets the tone
Jurgen Klopp was keen to stress in the lead-up to this one that Liverpool were fully-focused and that they did not have one eye on the potentially season-defining clash with Manchester City which looms, but the Reds looked like they were playing for a draw.
From the first whistle, Liverpool’s performance failed to tick any of the boxes. It lacked confidence, control, energy, incision and all the other essentials. Fans were left waiting for their almost unrecognisable side to wake up.
The half-time whistle, then, came as a relief. Surely Klopp would give his players a proverbial kick up the backside and, as a result, they would play with significantly more desire in the second half?
As it turned out, they did not raise their game at all. Aside from the odd thirty-second spell of pressure, they failed to cause any problems for Napoli or, in a more general sense, give the travelling supporters anything to shout about.
Liverpool seemingly decided to settle for a point, and that is precisely why they didn’t deserve one.Midfield absent
With the dynamic Naby Keita drafted in for a European debut, the team sheet certainly made for exciting viewing. Keita figured prominently in the early stages without really impressing, but with hindsight his 19th-minute withdrawal was a real blow.
Liverpool were in desperate need of a player who would grab the game by the scruff of the neck and function as the intermediary between midfield and attack whilst also harassing the opposition.
The trademark intensity was missing in Keita’s absence as Napoli were allowed to stroke the ball around and look for an opening. Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum, who usually approach big European fixtures with brilliant aggression, were a tame second best in the midfield battle and failed to provide the front three with any real service.
With Keita injured, the onus was on Wijnaldum to link play, but whether through lack of ambition or licence, he couldn’t.
Simply put, the midfield didn’t do its job.Needed spark watches on
This flat performance patently needed an injection of life, but renowned firecracker Xherdan Shaqiri was left watching from the substitutes’ bench.
Shaqiri’s cameo at Stamford Bridge was uninspiring, but in earlier appearances he had dazzled, showcasing the kind of creativity and ingenuity which Liverpool were sorely lacking. The substitution seemed a no-brainer.
Klopp waited until the 76th minute to make his first change, and even then he opted to introduce Fabinho, signalling his intention to hang on rather than actively go for victory.
Daniel Sturridge, scorer of one the best goals in the club’s recent history last time out, would not get his chance for another ten minutes, and predictably there was too little time for him to make any impact.
This was without a doubt one of the poorer managerial performances of Klopp’s tenure.
Even the team selection, however exciting, could be questioned. Perhaps he should have made changes for the middle leg of a gruelling triple-header, particularly given that Liverpool had spent so long frantically pursuing an equaliser against Chelsea. Fatigue may well have played a part in this lifeless display.Attack a shadow of former self
As mentioned above, the service into Liverpool’s front three was poor, but when they did have the ball they did not possess their usual air of threat.
Mohamed Salah cut a frustrated figure throughout, Roberto Firmino failed to add quality to his endeavour and Sadio Mane’s decision-making deserted him as he repeatedly held onto the ball for too long before losing it.
Unlike in recent games, the main issue was not their failure to take their chances, but their failure to carve any out.
Fans are eagerly awaiting the promised moment when the trio come alive, but ten games in it has yet to materialise, and the fluidity has yet to return. It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly why, but they will need to hit their former heights soon if Liverpool are to sustain their challenges on the domestic and continental fronts.Flanked
To its credit, Liverpool’s defensive core was reasonably impressive. Joe Gomez shone, Virgil van Dijk led and Alisson made some important saves.
However, the full-backs were less solid. Andrew Robertson was level-headed in his own third for much of the game, but it was down his side that Jose Callejon broke free before putting the ball on a plate for Lorenzo Insigne’s winner when the Reds were caught napping.
On the other side, Trent Alexander-Arnold was lucky not to be punished for his numerous errors. On a number of occasions, the 19-year-old was too narrow and a crusading Mario Rui was able to get in behind, very nearly teeing up an opener for Dries Mertens.
All in all, then, only three of the eleven players performed at the level required.
Every team, no matter how good, has bad nights. This was a particularly terrible one for Liverpool, lacklustre in almost every sense. Overall, it remains a strong start to the season despite the failure to come close to full capacity.
To ensure we end on a positive, we can say this: if this is the jolt which awakens the beast, then it will prove nothing more than a soon-to-be-forgotten-blip.
Liverpool FC has released the following ticket details for the Champions League fixture against Red Star Belgrade at Anfield.
The game is set for an 8pm kick-off on Wednesday October 24.
The entire stadium will be ticketed and prices are varied depending on seat location.
Adults - £9*-59
Over 65s - £9*-44
Young adults - £9*-29.50
Juniors - £9 (within the advertised family sections)
*Local general sale price
For a full breakdown of the pricing structure for this game, please click here.
Official LFC hospitality
Please call 0151 264 2222 for details, or buy online.
Official ticket and hotel breaks
For availability and prices, click here or call 01733 224834. Thomas Cook Sport terms and conditions apply.
Match breaks are sold on a match-by-match basis; therefore, tickets purchased via the match breaks will not qualify for ticket priority in future rounds of the competition.
Supporters enrolled into the Auto Cup Scheme
Season ticket holders and Members registered in the Auto Cup Scheme must not purchase a ticket for this fixture as we are in the process of taking payments. Click here for specific details, including stadium access, prices and what to do if your payment fails.
Click here for details.
All other supporters
The below sales will take place online only.
Priority rights holders: from 9.15am on Monday October 8 – for eligibility details, please click here.
Sales will then take place in the following order.
Season ticket holders who attended Paris Saint-Germain (September 18, 2018): from 1pm on Monday October 8.
Members who attended Paris Saint-Germain (September 18, 2018): from 8.15am on Tuesday October 9.
Tickets will be subject to availability on a first come, first served basis, and a queuing system will be in place.
Only if tickets remain
Fan card holders who attended Paris Saint-Germain (September 18, 2018): from 8.15am on Wednesday October 10.
Sales will then take place only if tickets remain based on attendance at AS Roma (April 24, 2018), Manchester City (April 4, 2018), FC Porto (March 6, 2018), Spartak Moscow (December 6, 2017), Maribor (November 1, 2017) and Sevilla (September 13, 2017) in the following priority order.
Season ticket holders who attended four games: from 1pm on Wednesday October 10.
Members who attended four games: from 8.15am on Thursday October 11.
Should any tickets remain, further sale updates will be provided here.
The local general sale will take place from 8.15am on Thursday October 18.
The club reserves the right to change any sale to a controlled sale if given advice from the police or other relevant authorities.
For stadium access information, click here.
For general information, click here.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson have been named in the latest England squad.
Gareth Southgate called up the Liverpool trio on Thursday for a UEFA Nations League double-header against Croatia and Spain later this month.
The Three Lions face Croatia in Rijeka on Friday October 12 and then take on Spain in Seville three days later.
In the slipstream of a defeat and performance like the one we inflicted upon ourselves at the San Paolo, against Napoli, there are two polar opposites where high populations of Liverpool fans reside.
First, we have those who are ‘violently happy.’
A place where everything is awesome, and negativity is pushed out of the body via rhythmic breathing, the clanging of finger-cymbals and the omission of a low level “hommmm” sound, all done while within a crouching yoga position.
No calamity is allowed to derail the feel-good factor and positivity remains high at all times. This community of Liverpool supporters will find beauty where there is mostly ugliness.
Then you have those who are ‘comfortably numb.’
This is a place where negativity is worn as a suit of armour, to protect the individual from the probability of collective failure.
These reds adhere to the notion that it’s not the defeat that hurts, it’s instead the hope which they put you through beforehand that kills you. This community of Liverpool supporters will find things to complain about, even on days when we win 5-0.
Both of these communities will often get ‘uppity’ if they feel like they’re being told how to support their team, or are offered some plain old, boring, common-sense alternative opinions.
No one is telling you how to support your team. People are allowed differing points of view, however.
Along the sliding-scale between these two polar opposites sits an array of minority Liverpool supporters.
Those who feel that they can read between the lines of the game; those who feel they don’t just ‘watch’ football, but ‘see’ football. Sort of like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix movies.
These ‘sorts’ are often classed as the ‘uber-fan’. They are derided as being holier-than-thou.
As far as people-watching goes, it makes for a hypnotic experience. Which is just as well, when the on-pitch entertainment isn’t up to scratch.
You argue amongst yourselves, while I reach for the popcorn.Finger-Cymbals at the Ready
It would have seemed outlandish to bill them as Gomez and Van Dijk, rather than Van Dijk and Gomez, a few short weeks ago.
Here we are though, throwing the two names together in a manner where the first of the two names mentioned is there because they were the most dominant of the duo in any given game.
While they are Gomez and Van Dijk today, they will be Van Dijk and Gomez again another day. The telling thing is, that neither Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip have ever been in danger of usurping Van Dijk in this respect.
Not once have I ever referred to a Van Dijk and Lovren or Van Dijk and Matip partnership as Lovren and Van Dijk, or Matip and Van Dijk.
Napoli would have won by a larger margin had it not been for Gomez and Van Dijk. Gomez is growing in stature with each passing game. He has taken the pressure off Van Dijk to be faultless.
Beyond a couple of saves from Alisson Becker, Gomez and Van Dijk were the primary sources of happiness in Naples.Numbing
There can be a vague sense of joy to be found in procuring a positive result when it’s completely undeserved.
Conceding the only goal of the game in the 90th minute was numbing, just as we were upon the cusp of claiming a point which we had no real right to make off with.
For those of a ‘violently happy’ nature this snatched away the line of thought that obtaining a result on an off-day is ‘the sign of a good team’ and played into the hands of those of a ‘comfortably numb’ disposition, for a resounding session of curmudgeoning.
A misfunctioning midfield, inclusive of the worrying early exit of Naby Keita, added to by ineffective performances from our usually excellent full-backs, left the forward three isolated and under-employed.
Miscalculations by Jurgen Klopp played its role in this defeat and he will kick himself for it.
Throwing on Daniel Sturridge so late was a bold statement to make and might well have been the psychological push Napoli required to go on and grab the winning goal.
An entirely forgettable evening which is in need of remembering, when heading into our next fixture.Manchester City, then
Sunday now looms large.
If Keita is unavailable, or simply not risked, then the team which struggled on the pitch at the San Paolo after his exit might just be the one which walks out at Anfield against Manchester City.
With no game for 13 days beyond Sunday, any ‘team management’ of Klopp’s line-up will revolve around who is fatigued and who is out of sorts.
Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri will be the most interested observers from the outside, looking in, feeling they might get a game.
This one is huge. This one is the scene-setter for the autumn ahead.
Two cup defeats have sandwiched a Premier League draw away at Chelsea. In cold black and white terms, we are three games without a win, but how good are we at ‘compartmentalising’ the tournaments we are playing in?
An interesting question or two will be answered on Sunday.
Football Expert & Columnist @PaulMerseLiverpool v Man City live on Sky Sports on Renault Super Sunday
Last Updated: 04/10/18 1:33pmPaul Merson is back with his Premier League predictions
Paul Merson is back with his latest round of Premier League predictions, including Brighton v West Ham, Southampton v Chelsea and Liverpool v Manchester City...
Brighton and West Ham kick off a big Premier League weekend at the Amex Stadium on Friday evening.
The focus then switches to the top of the table in Renault Super Sunday when Chelsea travel to Southampton before the big one, challenger v champions as Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield.
Read on to see who the Magic Man is backing this week…Soccer Saturday Super 6
Pick the full-time results in our six Saturday selections - get them right and net yourself a cool £250,000!Liverpool v Manchester City (Super Sunday live from 3.30pm on Sky Sports Premier League)
I'm slightly favouring Manchester City. For me, it looks like hard work for Liverpool at the moment.
Last week they had a great game against Chelsea but I think it took its toll on Jurgen Klopp's team. Their pressing from the front looks like hard work whereas last year it looked natural. I think they are going to fall asleep a couple of times during the game for City to punish them.2:53 Highlights from Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League. Highlights from Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League.
The pressure will be on City though. If Liverpool can pick up a win they'll be serious contenders for the title. However, a win for City and I think they'll run away with it again. The big difference is that certain Liverpool players have to play all the time and that will take its toll.
If Raheem Sterling, who has been great for City, doesn't play in a certain game he wouldn't really be missed but Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk, the full-backs and James Milner they have to play all the time otherwise the team gets severely weakened. Someone like Daniel Sturridge has come in and done well but can he do that for 10 games on the trot?So'ton vs Chelsea
October 7, 2018, 1:00pm
That's the reason why I think City will have the edge. It's at Anfield and the Liverpool fans are as good as anybody else's fans, but I just think the last couple of games will have taken something out of Liverpool.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (9/1 with Sky Bet)Sky Sports Fantasy Six-a-Side
Pick your dream six-a-side team from Brighton v West Ham for a chance to win £1,000.Southampton v Chelsea (Super Sunday live from 12.30pm on Sky Sports Premier League)
Southampton had a great result in midweek in the Carabao Cup against Everton. They are not going to win the league or come seventh even so why not give your fans a day out at Wembley like they did a few years ago. Their midweek performance will have taken a lot out of them. Chelsea are in the Europa League but they will rest a lot of their stars. I just don't see how Southampton contain Eden Hazard, I think it's impossible.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 (12/1 with Sky Bet)Liverpool vs Man City
October 7, 2018, 4:15pm
Live onBrighton v West Ham (Friday Night Football live from 7pm on Sky Sports Premier League)
This is a good game. West Ham have turned a corner, while Brighton always give you a good game at the Amex Stadium. I think there will be goals in this. West Ham will be full of confidence after beating Manchester United and Brighton, who have to win their home games, will always have a go in front of their own fans. That makes for an exciting, open game with a few goals.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2 (14/1 with Sky Bet)Brighton vs West Ham
October 5, 2018, 7:00pm
Live onBurnley v Huddersfield (Saturday, 3pm)
It was a big result for Burnley last Sunday against Cardiff. They didn't really deserve it but it's a result that will give them confidence. I think they will win this game against Huddersfield and if they do it will give David Wagner's side massive problems. You try to make a case for them in games but it's a real struggle. This is a game they would have highlighted a few weeks ago to get a result, especially with Burnley's form. But Sean Dyche's side have now gone back-to-back and all of a sudden this is a really hard game for Huddersfield.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (8/1 with Sky Bet)2:59 Highlights from Burnley's win at Cardiff in the Premier League. Highlights from Burnley's win at Cardiff in the Premier League. Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Saturday, 3pm)
Crystal Palace are getting sucked towards the bottom again after a couple of poor results. This is another big game for both sides. I really like Wolves as a side, they've been outstanding so far this season. They get the ball down and play and are giving the top-flight a real good go. I did think they were a little bit fortunate against Southampton, who were getting on top before the first goal. But once again they got the result. They looked good again, play good football and I'm backing them to get another result this week at Selhurst Park.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (10/1 with Sky Bet)Leicester City v Everton (Saturday, 3pm)
This is a really big game for Everton after what happened in midweek in the Carabao Cup. There will be a lot of pressure on Everton to get a result at the King Power Stadium but I am siding with Leicester. I watched Leicester the other week against Newcastle and it was like a walk in the park for them. They were very comfortable. They've also gone back-to-back at home so I think this will be a very difficult afternoon for Marco Silva and his side.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (17/2 with Sky Bet)3:52 Highlights of the third round Carabao Cup clash between Everton and Southampton. Highlights of the third round Carabao Cup clash between Everton and Southampton. Tottenham Hotspur v Cardiff City (Saturday, 3pm)
The result against Barcelona would've shaken Tottenham. I've played in games before where you think you're alright and then you get a pasting. I remember years ago we played in the Super Cup at AC Milan. The Arsenal side I played in, we were a good team. We were decent and we got absolutely ripped to shreds. It really knocks your confidence. Don't get me wrong, I know Cardiff aren't Barcelona but a result like that can come along and put you back in your place. This is now a hard game for Spurs because the Barca defeat will have affected them. Even if they win this game by a big margin people will still say they can't do it against the big boys. I do think they'll win this game but Cardiff will make it hard for them.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)2:46 Highlights from Tottenham's 2-0 win at Huddersfield in the Premier League. Highlights from Tottenham's 2-0 win at Huddersfield in the Premier League. Watford v Bournemouth (Saturday, 3pm)
You cannot predict what you are going to get with Bournemouth. At times they can embarrass you but then I thought they'd get a result at Burnley the other week and they got beat by four. Then they bounce back and beat Palace. I just can't get my head around them as a side at the moment. I like Watford as a side. I think they are very, very underrated at the highest level. I think they are the most underrated team in the Premier League. They caused Arsenal major problems last weekend and how they didn't get anything out of the game, I'll never know.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (8/1 with Sky Bet)Manchester United v Newcastle United (Saturday, 5.30pm)
I watched Newcastle the other day against Leicester and I couldn't believe what I was watching. I've played at St James' park plenty of times and it was a hard place to play football. The players were up for it, the crowd were up for it and it was a hard game. They had just one shot on target from 65 yards from Jonjo Shelvey. If Manchester United could hand pick any team to play this weekend it would be Newcastle. Forget Cardiff or Huddersfield it would be Newcastle because they can't score a goal. they don't even look like scoring a goal. On the flip side, if United don't win this game there'll be major trouble at Old Trafford. Newcastle will go there for a 0-0 but United will eventually break them down.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (11/2 with Sky Bet)2:59 Highlights from West Ham's 3-1 win over Manchester United in the Premier League Highlights from West Ham's 3-1 win over Manchester United in the Premier League Fulham v Arsenal (Sunday, 12pm)
Fulham are a decent side at home so this will be another big test for Arsenal. Fulham have to win their home games because it will be a struggle for them on the road. They'll rely on winning at Craven Cottage to stay in the Premier League. Fulham will have a go against Arsenal, who are also an open, attacking side. I think Arsenal have been a touch fortunate with their results. they've won all these games on the trot but if you break it down they've not really been that impressive. It could've easily gone the other way so Fulham will feel like they've got a chance, but in the end, Unai Emery's side will edge it.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-3 (18/1 with Sky Bet)Play Super 6
Predict 6 correct scores for your chance to win £250K.
Liverpool FC has today announced its participation in the Premier League's very first ePremier League (ePL) tournament, which will give UK-based fans the chance to represent the Reds for the first time ever in competitive gaming.
Each of the 20 Premier League clubs will be represented and gaming Liverpool fans will soon be invited to register their interest to play FIFA 19 for the team they love.
The ePL final will be played in London on March 28 and 29, 2019 and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports and Premier League social media channels.
The ePL competitive gaming tournament kicks off in January 2019 and players will compete for three months across three rounds: online qualification, live club play-offs and the eventual live ePL final.
All 20 Premier League clubs will have a live play-off round allowing two competitors – one per platform (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) – a final shot to advance to the final. Registrations for the tournament will open in December.
ePremier League tournament key dates
Further tournament details, including registration information, will be released in the coming months by the Premier League.
The ePL will be operated by esports tournament organisers Gfinity PLC. For more information, visit e.premierleague.com.
Liverpool suffered a first Champions League group stage defeat as they went down to Napoli and it left plenty of questions to be answered.
The Reds were disappointing throughout in Italy and ended on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline, with Lorenzo Insigne netting late on.
There were poor performances throughout the match from a Liverpool perspective, and it leaves the group looking extremely tight: Napoli top, one point ahead of both the Reds and PSG.
It all means the next two match weeks, the double-headers, will dictate much in terms of how the group eventually pan out.
MATT: A recurring theme, but Joe Gomez‘s performance again was the main positive. I’m delighted he’s been able to take this opportunity at centre-back.
Alisson was also good and made some smart saves. We’re beginning to worry less there aren’t we!
Aside from that, not a lot!
JACK: If it weren’t for a lack of creativity and patience in the final third, we could have been reflecting on another one of those deserved, hard-fought victories.
The key positives were, clearly, in the performances of Alisson, Van Dijk and, particularly, Gomez, who has truly developed into a top-level prospect at centre-back.
Gomez’s reading of the game has improved rapidly, and even when he’s caught out he invariably has the pace to recover, while his on-ball work gives Liverpool another dimension.
Alisson made some brilliant saves, and Van Dijk was a comfortable foil for Gomez as ever.
KARL: There weren’t too many, and those positives which were on show were in the defensive third as Matt and Jack have mentioned.
Gomez passed another big test: big European night, high-quality forwards of varying types, those around him under-performing.
So far, he’s the biggest positive for the entire season in my eyes.
Alisson, Firmino for his work rate and Virgil in general terms were also good.The bad…
MATT: Alexander-Arnold had his worst game for some time; to me he’s been overplayed this season already. Easy to forget he’s still a teenager. Last season at this time he was rotating every game with Gomez at right-back, now he plays basically every game.
The injury to Keita meant that the one-dimensional midfield offered almost nothing positive. That combination only works when one or two of them have outstanding games. You need it to work when they are just playing at their average.
Milner looks knackered, Henderson continues to do nothing of actual note, Wijnaldum is now far better in the holding role so it was a shame he had to move to accommodate the captain after Keita’s early injury.
Keita’s dribbling in the middle was exactly what this game needed.
Klopp’s subs were poor in my opinion and arrived far, far too late. Poor Xherdan Shaqiri – the player who was needed to supply some creativity sat on the bench all game.
JACK: While the defensive core was impressive—even Fabinho when he came on—there wasn’t much else positive to take from that game.
I thought both full-backs were really poor, and Robertson in particular looked to tire quickly, which often deprived Mane of an outlet in attack.
Firmino worked tirelessly as ever, but both Mane and Salah lacked imagination, and bar some rare bursts from Wijnaldum there was little in terms of support from midfield either.
After the game, Klopp suggested defeat was a tactical issue, and he was right to take some, if not most, of the blame as he failed to address this early enough despite having options to do so.
On a more sobering note, hopefully Keita’s injury isn’t too bad and he’s able to return soon.
KARL: Far too much, on this occasion. The performance was sloppy right from kick-off, with the passing a notable low point.
When the game starts in that fashion, individual mistakes quickly lead to a bad team performance: a bad pass yields a poor first touch, a hurried next pass and a loss of possession.
It continued right throughout the 90 minutes.
Trent, the entire midfield and both Mane and Salah were well below the expected levels.
It had to happen in some matches, and will again, but it’s always a disappointment.…and what’s the minimum requirement now from back-to-back games vs. Red Star?
MATT: Minimum is four points but six is really what is needed. We’ve made this much harder work than it could have been.
That final group game, against Napoli in mid-December, could now be a must win, or at least a must not lose.
Given that it arrives just before Man United arrive at Anfield and before a mad festive period, it would have been nice to have got the qualification boxed off and able to rest a few that night.
JACK: Six points. If PSG can thrash them at the Parc des Princes there’s no reason Liverpool can’t do the same at home, and I’d fancy them to win in Belgrade too.
Before the Napoli game I was surprised to hear so many supporters content with taking a point, but a win could have allowed Klopp to rotate more against Red Star with key league games to focus on.
Now, we’re likely going to need to go full strength, and if injuries rack up that’s an issue.
KARL: Six points, no question, but for me that was always the case regardless of this result.
Napoli have already slipped up by drawing in Serbia; win there and we’re ahead of the curve in the race to progress.
There’s an Arsenal game in there too, but that isn’t of the same stress, quality and calibre levels as the run we’re still in the middle of.