A View from the Opposition | FC Porto v Liverpool

It is matchday two in the UEFA Champions League and FC Porto welcome familiar foe Liverpool FC to the Estádio do Dragão. Próxima Jornada caught up with Ste Carson, Liverpool supporter and writer for Empire of the Kop, in order to get some insight into this Liverpool side and what Porto can expect from Jürgen Klopp’s men.

Liverpool have started the season perhaps a little better than what would have been expected by some, after a relatively quiet summer transfer window. Thankfully, the Reds already had the quality – and added to it with Ibou Konate, offering extra defensive flexibility.

Jurgen Klopp, yet to taste defeat this season, won’t have much to complain about so far – but will be frustrated with his side’s most recent performance, which saw Liverpool draw 3-3 with a feisty Brentford side away from home.

Something similar happened when AC Milan travelled to Anfield earlier this month and slotted two past the Reds’ typically tight defence in the space of five minutes, before captain Jordan Henderson saved the day with a late match-winner, so it’s fair to say that’s an area of concern.

But that’s me trying to find an issue with how Liverpool have played this season – in truth, I couldn’t be much happier; we’re sitting pretty atop the Premier League table and our Champions League group.

That, of course, can change this week as the Reds travel to Portugal to take on FC Porto at the Estádio do Dragão – a venue which, to be honest, won’t strike as much fear as probably it should, based on victories the Reds have enjoyed there since 2018 (a 9-1 aggregate score-line.)

Liverpool’s biggest threat needs no introduction: Mohamed Salah, who has six goals in seven games. But don’t let that fool you, all of the Reds’ forwards have hit the ground running this season; Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota both have three goals and Roberto Firmino is already off the mark, despite missing a few games through injury.

A big strength of ours this season comes from our full-backs, as ever, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and even Kostas Tsimikas have proven to be creative sparks when we’ve needed them. 

Liverpool haven’t struggled for goals, with an eye-watering 21 already bagged this term. One for-sure weakness is our defensive concentration, though. We’ve shown twice this season – against Milan and Brentford – that we can slack off and concede, despite dominating possession.

Midfield is potentially another problematic area; Naby Keita is a doubt and Thiago Alcântara has already been ruled out, which leaves Curtis Jones most likely to get the nod alongside Fabinho and Henderson. The 20-year-old is a talented player to be sure, but could get overrun physically quite easily.

If Porto are able to bully the Reds’ midfield and create chances, recent history suggests it’ll be difficult for Liverpool to keep a clean sheet – but if you attack us, be prepared for us to counter-attack. There’s two ways to take on Liverpool; defend and pray for a 1-0 win or attack and try to out-score us – a feat no-one has managed since Real Madrid back in April.

In terms of fitness updates, Trent Alexander-Arnold hasn’t been deemed fit enough to travel for Tuesday night’s game, despite training this week, so expect Neco Williams or the experienced James Milner to stand in-place of the England international. While both players would undoubtedly get a vote of confidence from Jurgen Klopp, being unable to select Trent is a blow to the Reds’ creativity and width. Liverpool will also be without the aforementioned Thiago and talented youngster Harvey Elliott, who sustained a serious injury earlier this month in the 3-0 win over Leeds United after an impressive start to the season. Firmino and Keita had been absent for a short while, but both are expected to be in the match-day squad on Tuesday night.

A big thanks to Ste for his brilliant insight, follow him on Twitter here for more great Liverpool content.

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