Liverpool’s best ever start to a Premier League season continued at the weekend after a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City at Anfield. To the shock of some fans, the likes of Alberto Moreno, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana all started the game, as Jurgen Klopp’s heavy rotation continued.
Now, when you look at the scoreline and the stats, it’s clear that Liverpool dominated the game. In the 90 minutes, Gini Wijnaldum completed more passes than the whole Cardiff City side, as Liverpool had an astonishing 80% possession.
However, there were times during the match when the Reds struggled for creativity as they seemed to be missing a link between attack and midfield. As aforementioned, Adam Lallana started against the Bluebirds. Although he has just returned from injury, he was sloppy in play and looked leggy all game. The England international was practically non-existent, arguably proving to be more of a hindrance as he slowed down attacks by taking far too many touches or picking out a poor pass.
Lallana was axed after just 61 minutes after failing to impress his boss and the Anfield faithful.
For all of Liverpool’s possession, Mohamed Salah’s first-half goal was all that was separating the two sides when Reds’ summer signing, Xherdan Shaqiri, entered the field. He immediately provided the necessary impetus Liverpool had been lacking, as he inspired Klopp’s team on to score another three goals in the remaining thirty minutes.
The Swiss international scored his first ever Anfield goal, as he cleverly jinked his way past opposition players before coolly sliding the ball into the bottom left corner in a Lionel Messi-inspired finish.
The ex-Stoke City man was everything that Adam Lallana was not; dynamic, confident and bustling with energy.
Liverpool’s Missing Piece of the Jigsaw?
Shaqiri’s signing was met by large waves of disapproval during the Summer window, partially because Liverpool had just pulled the plug on the deal for Nabil Fekir, but also because he was not the big money signing that many fans were craving. He came from a relegated Stoke City and had failed to impress in the top flight for over a year because of The Potters’ dire performances. Xherdan Shaqiri was seemingly not the man Liverpool needed to help them in their quest for glory.
Six months down the line and it can be said that many Liverpool fans, including myself, have been proven wrong by the Swiss star. He is everything and more than I expected and has been at the forefront of Liverpool’s success in the past four or five games. In his last four appearances for the Reds, he has registered three assists and scored one goal.
Shaqiri has been involved in a goal or assist every 95 minutes for Liverpool this season, being outperformed by only Daniel Sturridge.
It is hard to ignore the fact that Xherdan Shaqiri is operating at a far higher level than Adam Lallana currently is. Lallana hasn’t been involved in a Liverpool goal in the Premier League since the 2016/17 season – spanning a period of over 15 appearances.
However, with Jurgen Klopp trying to preserve his squad’s fitness throughout the long season, it maybe isn’t such a bad idea to give Lallana some minutes against a weaker opposition before giving Shaqiri the opportunity to impact the side during the later stages of the game.
And, I guess, that is the difference between these two players. Lallana is a squad player, at best. He should not feature week-in-week-out. Shaqiri is a real asset to the side who should be featuring in most games now, be it from the bench or starting in the new 4-2-3-1 formation that Klopp has been using. I’m sorry Adam, but your time is up. There’s a new kid on the block.