15 Jan 2022 | 04:52 | Football
If he cannot seize the opportunity when it is presented, Takumi Minamino could very well face an uncertain future at Liverpool.
“The Kop” can only blame themselves after the 0-0 draw against Arsenal in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final at dawn on January 14 (Hanoi time). They played at Anfield at home, having an advantage over a one-man opponent early on, when Granit Xhaka got a red card. However, squandering the opportunity will make the port city team face many difficulties in the second leg.
Minamino became the focus of criticism, when the most favorable opportunities were missed. The Japanese striker has had psychological problems since coming to Liverpool. He is in danger of becoming a failed contract for the Anfield team.
The Japan international could have become Liverpool’s hero against Arsenal if he hadn’t shot into the air in front of an empty goal late in the game. Minamino’s unbelievable finish in the 90+3 minute threw away “The Kop’s” best chance.
And that shot also threw away many of the hopes Liverpool fans had for the 26-year-old. Minamino started the match against Arsenal in the League Cup. After only being on the field from the bench in the match against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, starting against a strong opponent like Arsenal is an opportunity for the Asian striker to show his ability.
In return, Minamino only brings disappointment. Before Arsenal, coach Jurgen Klopp launched a strong squad. Except for the absence of Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane, Liverpool still play with the best players like Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson…
The home field advantage and the early play of one-man opponents helped Liverpool create an overwhelming game. However, the stars on the Liverpool attack like Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota or Minamino had a poor game.
The Anfield team only had one shot on the “Gunners” goal when the match ended. Among them, Minamino is the most disappointing star. Besides the shot into the sky in front of an empty goal at the end of the game, the Japanese player also handled awkwardly in many other situations given the opportunity.
Missing opportunities is not something new for strikers, but if you look at Minamino’s performance overall, Liverpool fans have reason to worry. Minamino alone had 6 shots towards the Arsenal goal in the match, but none of them hit the target. No player playing in the Premier League has a bad shot-to-goal rate like the recent Japanese striker.
The accurate passing rate of the striker born in 1995 is also only 75%. Minamino received a score of 6.16 from Whoscored and he was the worst player “The Kop” in the confrontation with Arsenal.
If coach Klopp once believed that Minamino was capable of replacing Salah and Mane when these two key strikers were absent, the German strategist may have to think again after the 0-0 draw against Arsenal.
“We really need him,” Klopp said of Minamino last weekend.
The German strategist believes that with the absence of Salah and Mane due to the 2021 CAN Cup, Liverpool need Minamino to be healthy and fill the void created by the two African teammates in the squad. However, Minamino’s performance in front of the “Gunners” explains that he only had 4 starts for Liverpool in the Premier League after 2 years at Anfield.
The Japanese striker understands that he has to make a lot of effort to get the main kick at Liverpool. However, what happened to Minamino was like a vicious cycle. He did not have many opportunities to express himself, leading to a loss of confidence and feeling on the ball.
When facing the Vietnamese team at My Dinh Stadium in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, the Liverpool star had a situation where he shot the ball into the sky at a favorable distance. That is a situation that one can easily relate to the recent failure to eat against Arsenal.
Earlier this month, Minamino admitted being on the bench a lot at Liverpool disappointed him. “I always train hard to try to have the opportunity to play,” the Japanese player affirmed. “I want to play more and of course being on the bench is quite disappointing.”
No professional player wants to sit and drink at the best age of his career. At the age of 26, Minamino still has many opportunities to develop, but he is no longer a young player.
Since the beginning of the season, Minamino has only scored 1 goal in the Premier League. The mature player from Cerezo Osaka’s training academy only played 40 minutes in the 2021/22 Premier League.
In the Champions League, Minamino was given more opportunities with 215 minutes of play. However, he failed to leave a mark when he did not provide any assists or goals.
League Cup is the biggest opportunity for Minamino to show his ability. He scored 4 goals and had 1 assist after 3 full 90 minutes. However, the performance against Arsenal brought Minamino to the harsh reality, that the Japanese player was not at the level that could start weekly for Liverpool.
Two years ago, Minamino was very brave when he accepted to join Liverpool, the team that owned three of the best strikers in the world at that time. But if the Japanese striker is unable to seize his chances and turn the enormous pressure into goals, his dreams of shining at Anfield could come to an end in the near future.
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