Xherdan Shaqiri impresses on first Liverpool start despite early substitution

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Xherdan Shaqiri

Liverpool have now made it six wins out of six as they maintained their perfect start to the Premier League season with a 3-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.

An own goal from Wesley Hoedt handed the hosts an early breakthrough in the 10th minute before Joel Matip doubled their advantage 11 minutes later with his header from a corner kick.

Mohamed Salah found the back of the net as well when he helped the ball over the line on the stroke of half-time after Xherdan Shaqiri’s effort from a free-kick had come off the woodwork.

This was Shaqiri’s first start for the club and here we analyse his performance.

30-SECOND REPORT

Jurgen Klopp made clear his intentions to blow Southampton away when he deployed Shaqiri in an attacking midfield role behind a trio of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

The summer signing from Stoke City was joined in midfield by Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson, affording him the licence to get forward. His biggest contributions came from or following set-pieces. After his corner was defended, his ball back into the box fortuitously found its way into the back of the net via a couple of ricochets along the way.

Later in the first half, an excellent strike from a free-kick crashed off the under side of the cross bar before it was stabbed over the line by Salah.

However, that was to be extent of his contributions as he was substituted at half-time.

GOT RIGHT

Penetration – With Southampton’s midfield forming a bank of four in front of the defence, Shaqiri did well to position himself between the lines, helping Liverpool get into the final third quickly.

He also received the ball into feet well, often on the half-turn to immediately look for a forward pass. He was never dispossessed despite often operating in a tight space.

Goal threat – Shaqiri can count himself unlucky not to score on his first start for his new side. He got into threatening areas and his sublime free-kick certainly warranted a goal.

GOT WRONG

Wasting possession – While his fellow midfielders Henderson and Wijnaldum registered pass success rates of 92.1 and 93.2 per cent respectively, Shaqiri only managed 77.3 per cent. It’s understandable that the Swiss international often attempted risky passes but they weren’t always on.

That’s presumably one of the reasons why he was hooked at the break with Klopp looking for more control in midfield having gone 3-0 up.

Xherdan Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri

VERDICT

He only played the first 45 minutes but that was sufficient for Shaqiri to impress and show the Anfield faithful what he’s all about.

Crucially, he brought a different dimension to Liverpool’s play, which wasn’t without its flaws, but will serve as a handy card for Klopp to have in his back pocket, particularly against weaker opposition.

RATING 7/10

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