Liverpool look set to ease into the knockout rounds of the Europa League after a convincing win against the second-strongest team in the group.
Liverpool 5-1 Toulouse
Europa League (3), Anfield
October 26, 2023
Goals: Jota 9′, Endo 30′, Nunez 34′, Gravenberch 65′, Salah 90+3′; Dallinga 16′
Liverpool have won every game at Anfield this season by two goals or more.
The Reds have not lost at home since Real Madrid in the Champions League last season, and in the 15 games at Anfield since then, they have won 13 and drawn two.
It leads to a feel-good atmosphere around the stadium. That can sometimes result in a quiet atmosphere, but at the same time, fans are absorbed in the game, enjoying the show these players are putting on.
— Michael Reid (@michael_reid11) October 26, 2023
This includes the new signings, as well as the usual favourites such as Darwin Nunez who is already a cult hero and could well turn into a bonafide one in time.
There was an audible sense of disappointment when Ryan Gravenberch was subbed off as fans wanted to see more of this midfielder who looks like he has the attributes to perform to the highest level and become one of the best all-round players in the world.
Klopp will not want this to turn into complacency, on the pitch or in the stands, but watching Liverpool at Anfield is currently one of the most enjoyable pastimes.
Kelleher could easily be a No. 1 goalkeeper at numerous other clubs, and Liverpool have done well to keep hold of him as such a solid understudy to Alisson.
One of the ways Klopp was able to keep Kelleher at the club for now was to offer him starts in the many cup games the team will have across all competitions this season.
The Irishman shows many strengths as a goalkeeper, not least with his feet in buildup play. He is commanding in his area and sweeps up well.
He can take up a position in between the centre-backs during build-up if needed, and towards the end of this game, he got the chance to test his reflex with a save low down.
If there is a weakness in Kelleher’s game, it could be his one-on-one goalkeeping in situations such as that for the Thijs Dallinga.
You might have backed Alisson to make a save in such a situation, but Kelleher didn’t make himself as big as the Brazilian does.
Comparing Kelleher to arguably the best goalkeeper in the world is probably unfair, but Alisosn is there for the 24-year-old to learn from for as long as he remains at the club, and this might be an area for improvement.
Endo played a big role in this game, coming into the side as part of the rotated selection and offering continental experience as well as quality.
One of the Japanese international’s surprising strengths is his aerial ability.
Liverpool signed him as someone who could win the ball in midfield and sit in front of the back four in possession.
But before he joined the club one of the most impressive areas of his game statistically was his ability to win headers.
At 5ft 10 this might be surprising, but he has demonstrated a good leap and timing, allowing him to win such duels against taller opponents.
Apparently, it’s not just in defence that this is effective, as he rose to head Trent Alexander-Anorld’s cross to score Liverpool’s second goal in this game.
Toulouse lose but their fans win
One of the things that adds to the aforementioned entertainment in Anfield on these European nights is the away support.
It was the case against Union SG in the previous home game in this competition, and the Toulouse fans continued that.
Songs were sung outside the ground as police controlled the flow of fans to the limited number of open turnstiles. This merely gave the visiting French fans the chance to warm up before entering the ground.
Pyro was on show and the rows of purple shirts remained vocal throughout, conducted by a guy at the front who didn’t watch any of the game but kept the fans going.
There were even some oles at the end as their team enjoyed a rare and short-lived spell of possession.
This convincing win puts Liverpool well in control in Group E.
Going into this round of games, Toulouse were the only other team in the group to have won a game, so defeating them sets Klopp and his players on their way to the knockouts.
It means there is not as much pressure on the remaining games as qualification is all but assured, barring an unlikely collapse in the remaining games.
It means guaranteed playing time for anyone not getting starts in the Premier League and will mean time for key players to rest and recover.
A win in the return game in Toulouse early next month would assure the top spot for Liverpool, who are well on their way to challenging for another European trophy.