Tsimikas and Williams find it tough
How do you replace Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson?
The duo have become an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, a creative force from the flanks while redefining the full-back role.
But they can’t play every game. And with Alexander-Arnold still nursing a calf problem and Robertson among those rested to the bench, the supporting cast were given an opportunity in this Champions League clash.
It wasn’t easy. Summer signing Kostas Tsimikas has become a curiosity, so rare have his first-team sightings been.
Handed only a second start here, evidence suggests the Greek can swing in a decent delivery from the left flank while one lengthy tussle for possession down the touchline underlined he isn’t averse to getting involved in a scrap.
Defensively, however, he is still growing accustomed to Liverpool’s ways – Klopp constantly on his case first half – and was caught out for Atalanta’s opener, while on the other wing teenager Neco Williams was targeted by Atalanta and suffered a tough evening, even if he remained undeterred.
Replacing Alexander-Arnold and Robertson – particularly after so little first-team action this season – was always going to be a tough ask for the duo.
But, as the hectic programme progresses, Tsimikas and Williams will be needed in the coming weeks. This tough experience will not be for nothing.
Origi sliding out of view
Divock Origi’s name in the annals of Liverpool's Champions League history has been long assured.
Past glories, however, are of little concern to the striker as he battles to revive his Anfield career.
Origi made only a third start of the season here, a surprising inclusion given Klopp had talked up Takumi Minamino in the build-up to the game.
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But, as against FC Midtjylland last month, the Belgian failed to grasp his opportunity.
It didn’t help that there was precious little protection from lamentable Spanish referee Carlos Grande, Origi thumped from behind on several occasions during the first half.
The 25-year-old, though, appeared short of confidence, led the line with little conviction and was subject to a mouthful from Klopp regarding his lack of movement.
In truth, Origi wasn’t alone in struggling to impress in a strangely subdued attacking effort from Liverpool.
Mohamed Salah, back after his period of self-isolation, was quiet while the sheer number of games has taken the edge off Sadio Mane, who again appeared tired in the second half and would benefit from a rest at Brighton on Saturday with Diogo Jota again lively in his 30-minute cameo.
Origi, though, may be waiting some time before he is seen again.
*Who was your MOTM against Atalanta? Take our quick poll here.
Fans being missed
Jurgen Klopp outlined a number of reasons when asked to assess what went wrong for Liverpool.
But there was one he neglected to mention.
After Liverpool laboured to victory against FC Midtjylland last month, James Milner – against Atalanta making his 50th European appearance for the Reds – lamented the absence of supporters.
And there’s no doubt Klopp’s side would have benefited from the backing of a raucous Anfield here.
Liverpool have done well to maintain their unbeaten home league run and set a new club record in the process.
But cup games under the floodlights, whether it be in the League Cup against Arsenal or the Champions League campaign, are when the absence of fans has been most keenly felt.
European nights feel no different to the rest, and are all the poorer for it.
Numerous are the occasions Liverpool have been roused from a collective slumber by their fanbase. And how their teenage triumvirate of Rhys Williams, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones are missing out on the full experience.
It’s hoped this week will see a decision to next month allow supporters back into Anfield, albeit most likely only 2,000.
It is, though, a start. Liverpool are now missing their 12th man.