Adam Lallana takes another step on the comeback trail against Cardiff… there was enough in movement and link-up play to suggest Jurgen Klopp will value his contribution this season
- Adam Lallana started his second game of the season for Liverpool on Saturday
- It was his chance to impress manager Jurgen Klopp from the opening whistle
- Lallana is known as Mr Perpetual Motion and he looked bright and alert on right
- There were times when Lallana appeared to be over-thinking things at Anfield
- The midfielder was replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri in second half of league clash
From being a regular starter for Liverpool and England, Adam Lallana’s recent injury mishaps meant Saturday’s game against Cardiff City was a very important chance for the 30-year-old to show he’s still got plenty to offer at the highest level.
Though he wasn’t the Lallana of old, the player Gareth Southgate was desperate to take to the World Cup, there was enough in his movement and link-up play to suggest Jurgen Klopp will value his contribution at Anfield this season once the natural ring-rustiness disappears.
Lallana was one of English football’s go-to players when he suffered an innocuous thigh strain in a friendly against Atletico Madrid before the 2017-18 season.
Cardiff’s Victor Camarasa in action with Liverpool’s Adam Lallana during Premier League clash
It turned out to be the start of bad muscular problems that restricted the midfielder to three starts all season. He hasn’t started a game for England since June 2017 and before Saturday had only featured for 72 minutes in the Premier League.
Due to injuries to Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson, this was Lallana’s chance to impress Jurgen Klopp from the opening whistle.
Lallana is known as Mr Perpetual Motion and he looked bright and alert on the right-hand side of a 4-2-3-1 – Mo Salah playing more centrally – as he regularly fed overlapping right back Trent Alexander Arnold and found the same wavelength as Salah before almost setting up Roberto Firmino to score.
Lallana forced the corner that led to the build-up of pressure which saw Salah fire Liverpool ahead after 10 minutes. With his confidence gaining, his range of passing became longer.
But after so long without the rhythm of Premier League football, there were times when the former Southampton player appeared to be over-thinking things. A quick Liverpool break saw Sadio Mane find Lallana 30 yards from goal.
Instead of instinctively accelerating towards the box and getting his shot away, Lallana paused momentarily, allowing Cardiff bodies to block the final effort. There were a few groans from the crowd.
Lallana celebrates with Mohamed Salah after the Egyptian broke the deadlock on Saturday
Lallana nearly scored his first goal for 18 months on the stroke of half-time when he stooped to head Alberto Moreno’s dinked cross just inside the penalty area. The direction was good but lacked just a tiny bit of power, allowing Cardiff skipper Sean Morrison to get back and head off the line.
With Liverpool looking for a killer second goal and Cardiff resisting stubbornly, Lallana was withdrawn by Klopp after an hour, to give Xherdan Shaqiri a chance to shine. It worked as soon afterwards, Sadio Mane struck left-footed from 14 yards.
It was only a small step for Lallana on the comeback trail. He’ll hope to have more of an impact next time.
Saturday’s match was Lallana’s chance to impress boss Jurgen Klopp from the opening whistle
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