Xherdan Shaqiri provided a preview of his role at Liverpool this season as he made his full debut in Saturday’s win over Southampton.
The summer signing lined up in a central attacking midfield role behind Mohamed Salah, with Jurgen Klopp setting his team out in an experimental 4-2-3-1 system.
Having been identified as orthodox cover for the likes of Salah and Sadio Mane in wider areas upon his arrival, Shaqiri has since emerged as an added no.10 option following the club’s difficulty finding a Philippe Coutinho replacement.
A jinking presence across the width of the final third saw him flourish in Liverpool’s interchanging approach, whether it be threatening with his natural tendency to cut in on his left or occupying space between the Saints midfield and defence both with and without the ball.
It was some excellent work from Shaqiri down the left-hand side that led to the Reds’ opener when he cut inside Cédric Soares before seeing his cross rebound in off Wesley Hoedt.
He was heavily involved again just before the interval when his free-kick rattled the cross bar, before falling into the path of Salah for an easy tap-in and Liverpool’s third of the game.
He displayed a willingness to take responsibility by dropping deep in view of initiating attacks, even if nothing opened up for him in the end. There was also a refreshing excitement about the chance to play for Liverpool, evidenced by an energy in his efforts to retrieve the ball that many in the past have doubted he is capable of.
Besides probing the Southampton half as a technician, he didn’t refrain him making bursts in behind for his teammates to feed. This entailed some neat link up play with Mane and Andrew Robertson down the left.
The attention his movement demanded hinted at a useful role in disjointing compact defensive banks and consequently freeing up his front three.
Wednesday’s League Cup clash now awaits as an ideal opportunity to test himself in Liverpool’s setup against much stronger opposition in Chelsea.
Here’s a look at his best bits from the weekend…