RANGERS VS LIVERPOOL: PREVIEW
After defeat in North London, Liverpool travel to Scotland to take on Rangers in the Champions League. The Reds comfortably beat the Gers last week but will face a sterner test in what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere. Here’s the match preview.
It’s been a wretched campaign so far for the Reds, and it can’t still be put down to a false start. We’re two and a half months into the season, halfway through the Champions League group stages and almost a quarter of the way through the entire league campaign.
The Reds have dropped points in six out of eight league games thus far, as many as the entirety of the title winning campaign. It’s been the worst start to a Premier League season since the 2012/13 season under Brendan Rodgers.
It’s an alarming fall from grace, with Jürgen Klopp’s side sitting comfortably in midtable, closer to the relegation zone than the top four. The manager ruled his side out of the title race after the defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, and rightly so.
They are miles off the pace as it stands. The Champions League has proven something of a positive distraction however (defeat at Napoli aside). The Reds sit second in group A with six points after home victories over Ajax and Rangers.
With the league title already out of the picture, attention now switches to the premium club competition. A victory tomorrow night will see the side move one step closer to securing qualification for the knockout stages.
Rangers let themselves down with their approach at Anfield last week. Giovanni Van Bronchorst set his side up to not lose rather than go toe to toe against a Liverpool side low on confidence. He set up in a 5-4-1 formation which left Alfredo Morelos isolated up top.
It was not until the final ten minutes that he threw caution to the wind PL, sending on a midfielder (Glen Kamara) for a centre back (Ben Davies) and reverting to a 4-3-3. This saw the away side pose a belated threat.
They went close to scoring twice in the closing stages, with Matondo’s effort from close range half saved by Alisson and then hacked off the line by Tsimikas. Topscorer Antonio-Mirko Colak then saw his shot charged down by the Brazilian stopper.
That last ten is the blueprint for Rangers tomorrow night. They will have to take the handbrake off and have a go. The Ibrox faithful will respond and generate the kind of atmosphere the ground is famous for.
Jürgen Klopp’s men could face a daunting task if they continue their habit of gifting opponents a headstart. The Reds have conceded the opening goal in twelve of their last eighteen fixtures across all competitions.
They are constantly having to dig themselves out of a hole of their own doing. All this whilst several key players underperform. You’d have thought the manager would have returned to basics and set his team up to be solid first and foremost as they try to steer through this tough period.
It’s rather the opposite, with opponents constantly finding a way through and usually taking the lead. These are worrying times for the side, with questions being asked of Jürgen Klopp for the first time in his seven year tenure.
Anything short of victory tomorrow night will see the pressure dial up a few notches. The Reds would be left hoping the result in the other game (Napoli vs Ajax) goes their way. A far cry from last season when they breezed through the group stages, winning all six games.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip and Luis Diaz are all casualties of the defeat to Arsenal on Sunday. The Colombian has been ruled out till December, whilst Trent and Joel are hoping to make a return in a fortnight.
Andy Robertson, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all back in training but the game comes too soon for the latter duo (Ox ineligible in any case). There’s still no sign of Calvin Ramsay, with the right back not in training this week.
For Rangers, Filip Helander, Ianis Hagi, John Souttar, Kemar Roofe, Nnamdi Ofoborh and Tom Lawrence all remain out. Van Bronchorst reported no new injuries.
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