Why Carragher is circumspect despite ‘clinical’ Liverpool win

Jamie Carragher claims Liverpool were “at their best” in their 5-0 victory over Atalanta but explains why concerns remain due to Virgil van Dijk’s absence.

The Liverpool legend hailed Jurgen Klopp’s new “flying machine” Diogo Jota, who struck a brilliant hat-trick on Tuesday, with further goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah ensuring the Reds maintained their 100% record in the Champions League.

MAILBOX: Jota yes…but let’s talk about this Liverpool midfield…

Carragher told CBS Sports: “Normally what happens with Atalanta is they take the opposition apart and the opposition take them apart and the games are just mad, crazy basketball games, high scoring games, possibly the most entertaining team you can watch in the Champions League in some ways.

“And that was the big thing for Liverpool tonight, I thought it would be very difficult to keep a clean sheet and maybe even keep Atalanta down to two goals and think you’ll get chances yourself at the other end.

“But Liverpool were very clinical, had big chances and that’s Liverpool at their best. Liverpool will always exploit teams who want to play football from the back because they press as good as any team in the Champions League and also teams that put lots of bodies forward.

“And when there’s transitions, you see with pace they have in the attack. It’s normally just Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane but, in terms of Diogo Jota, they’ve got another flying machine so that’s what it was all about tonight.”

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But Carragher has warned his former side against getting carried away with the performance, insisting sterner tests are to come without Van Dijk at the heart of defence.

“There was a big worry when Virgil van Dijk was out of the team or will be for a long time, how Liverpool would react,’ he added.

“I don’t think it’s in these types of games where Liverpool will struggle defensively as such. I think they’ll miss Van Dijk more against teams who go direct, who are big on set-pieces.

“You don’t normally get that as much in the Champions League, it’s more the bottom half of the Premier League so Sheffield United gave Liverpool problems, West Ham at times at the weekend and, before that, you had the Aston Villa game even though Van Dijk was playing as they were a team that went very direct.

“That will be something to look at from a Liverpool perspective when they come up against those type of teams again.”

There are no Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City representatives in our rundown of the top ten players of the season. Nor Manchester United, of course, but Jay Rodriguez gets in?!

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