Liverpool progressed through to their 12th European Cup semi-final with a 3-3 draw (6-4 aggregate) victory over SL Benfica at Anfield last night.
Jurgen Klopp made seven changes from the side that played out a 2-2 draw with Manchester City last weekend and there appeared to be a lack of rhythm in the team with minutes being offered to Joe Gomez, Kostas Tsimikas and Naby Keita to name a few.
The latter performed superbly in the first leg in Lisbon last week, registering a sublime assist for Liverpool’s third goal, but the No. 8 struggled to impose himself on the game this time around and ex-Reds Steve McManaman and Michael Owen criticised the Guinea international following the game.
“Naby Keita goes wandering into areas that he shouldn’t,” McManaman told BT Sport when discussing the visitor’s first goal (via Rousing The Kop).
Whilst analysing the second goal, Owen supported McManaman’s comment claiming Keita was regularly caught out of position.
“He did this twice – it’s the second time that this man goes wandering,” he said.
“He doesn’t need to move here, he’s protecting areas.
“And he almost vacates, Naby Keita, vacates a hole and all of a sudden, then, you’ve got two players in this box [in the middle]. That really is his area – you can’t vacate that. Then they get turned and then they’re in trouble, running back to their own goal and it’s 3-2.
“I think Keita was at fault for the first one and then again for the second one. Doing a similar thing.”
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We’re yet to see the best of the 27-year-old in a red shirt, but that’s rather worrying when you consider that he’s been at the club since 2018.
The former RB Leipzig man certainly has the ability, we’ve seen glimpses and the odd appearance here and there, but he needs to begin performing regularly if he’s going to be a mainstay in Klopp’s side.
His injury record isn’t great and that certainly hasn’t helped during his time on Merseyside.
We do have a lot of significant games on the horizon, beginning with the FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday, so we’ll need our entire squad to step up and perform at their best in the coming weeks.
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