Arrival of Keita and Fabinho has galvanised two Liverpool stars

Naby Keita TEAMtalk

Our Liverpool blogger Dave Tindall reflects on the season so far and believes the summer arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho have galvanised two of the existing squad.

I attended my first live Liverpool game of the season on Saturday and thankfully didn’t jinx us.

We kicked off boasting a 100% record and ended it that way. Seven out of seven. This is all going rather well, isn’t it.

With the game not shown on live TV in the UK, many Liverpool fans would have only witnessed highlights and been content enough with what they saw. But were those packaged together five minutes indicative of the full 90? Was it a walk in the autumn sun?

I only really started to answer the question when a fellow Red, starved of TV coverage, asked me about each player’s performance. The conversation went like this…

Liverpool scarfs Anfield TEAMtalk

Ratings v Southampton


“Didn’t have to do anything to be honest.”

“Trent and Robertson?”

“Yep, both got forward well, looked composed. Full of energy. Usual deal.”

“Van Dijk?”

“Absolute class. Snuffed out the danger when they were playing through us too easily in the first half. Bricked it when I saw him holding his rib and he kept rubbing it for a while before going down. I started thinking about a post Van Dijk world and how we would cope but I think he’s okay. And, to be honest, Gomez was superb when he came on for him.”


“Massively sloppy pass early which could have gifted them a goal but Van Dijk baled him out. Settled down after he scored. Can understand a bit of rust.”


“Looked good. Spent a fair bit of the first-half shouting at Shaqiri. TV won’t have shown that.”


“Tidy. A bloke in one of the front rows blew him a kiss when he returned the ball and Gini blew one back. Love his kind, smiley eyes!”


“Very lively. Buzzed about a lot. Good to see him in the flesh. Absolutely tiny. Think he’ll be better as one of the front three though. Played a big part in the goals and free-kick was class but clearly he wasn’t doing his bit defensively. Wasn’t surprised that Klopp took him off at half-time which sounds weird.”


“Not his best game.”


“Terrible! Must have given the ball away about 30 times. I’d made him my Fantasy League captain so my fault really. Thought he’d have a blinder after his winner against PSG but was just out of sorts. Usual hard work of course though.”


“Looked like it was going to be one of those days when he just couldn’t get the ball in the net. Kept putting efforts inches wide but was very happy after he prodded home the rebound from Shaqiri’s free-kick.”

Still to hit top form

Put it all together and it tells a simple story. We’re winning games, sometimes by substantial margins, and yet half the players are nowhere near their peak.

One argument is that we’ll get found out soon and having five players on the pitch a little under par just won’t allow us to keep cutting it.

But I much prefer the idea that we’re racking up points and wins while obviously below our collective best. It’s what teams with title aspirations do. Follow the logic and the “imagine when we really click” line leaps out.

Right now, Liverpool are just 7/4 to win the Premier League. To give it some context, we’ve never been those odds at this stage of the season since 1990.

Fair? Or too short?

When flicking through twitter after running for the bus outside, several outlets informed me that I’d just witnessed something historic. By opening with seven straight wins, it was the best start to a season in our 126-year history.

Not that I punched the air. The mood around Anfield was one of calm contemplation and satisfaction, a sense that we know we’re good and after laying the foundations in the second half of last season the house is really starting take shape.

Inside the ground it was one of the best atmospheres I can remember for a 3pm Saturday kick-off. The goals helped but these games – especially after the high of a midweek Champions League clash against elite opposition – can be funereal.

‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ got regular renditions, as did the Mo Salah Egyptian King song while it was good to hear ‘Andy Andy Andy Andy Robertson’ being chanted.

This time last year, Robertson wasn’t getting a game but his progress reflects Liverpool’s progress.

After playing at home to Burnley in mid-September, the Scot was left out until early December. Now, he’s one of our most consistent performers and we don’t do these 1-1s at home to Burnley anymore. The last team to score in a Premier League game at Anfield? West Ham last February… when we were already 3-1 up.

While Van Dijk and, to a lesser extent, Alisson have slotted in seamlessly, Naby Keita and especially Fabinho are big-money summer signings still carrying a ‘work in progress’ stamp.

Milner and Wijnaldum galvanised

In the short-term, their biggest contribution has been to galvanise Milner and Wijnaldum to greater heights but imagine when they themselves start to shine.

Imagine when Salah hits full speed.

Imagine when Salah, Firmino and Mane all turn it on in the same match?

Yes, we’re seven out of seven. But, in terms of displays, it’s still far from magnificent.


Chelsea double

Of course, we aren’t going to keep winning every game and there are two obvious hurdles in the way this week – back-to-back games against Chelsea. One home, one away.

We should be able to field an almost new team in the League Cup and thus keep the vast majority of the first XI fresh for Stamford Bridge.

The Premier League showdown is a particularly important mark in the sand given how well they’ve started under Maurizio Sarri.

After inconveniently spoiling the story and halting our stay at the top for a week due to having a superior goal difference, they’re now looking up at us after being held 0-0 by West Ham.

Look at the stats this season and Chelsea at home are absolutely bossing possession and hurling men forward.

Maybe it’s my optimistic viewpoint right now but that could absolutely play into our hands. Let Alonso charge forward at Trent and Salah will exploit the huge gap behind him.

After the Chelsea double header? Napoli away in the Champions League and Man City at home in the Premier League.

All the early indications are that this season has the potential to be the one that changes everything. Will Reds fans be quite as sure when the dust settles after Pep and co’s visit on October 7?

Dave Tindall