David James confident Liverpool will feature in title race
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Kostas Tsimikas has endured a slow and frustrating start to his Liverpool career, but the Greek international finally looks ready to kick on at Anfield. Andy Robertson handed the club some bad news on Monday following his injury against Athletic Bilbao, but Tsimikas went some way to easing the pain on the red half of Merseyside.
There was a buoyant atmosphere before Liverpool kicked off against Osasuna at Anfield, with the sounds of You’ll Never Walk Alone ringing around the ground.
But while there was plenty of excitement in the air ahead of the 2021/22 season, there was also some disappointment.
Pictures of Robertson wearing a protective boots had emerged, confirming what fans had been fearing after the left-back was forced off in the 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Robertson then confirmed the prognosis with a post on social media.
“Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and support,” he wrote.
“Scan suggests nothing too major but there’s some ligament damage which will need to mend.
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“I will be grafting every day so I can help the team again sooner rather than later. Good luck to the boys playing tonight.”
Injury to one of your best and most integral players on the eve of a new season was a hammer blow to Jurgen Klopp.
Robertson started all 38 Premier League matches last season, contributing one goal and seven assists. His absence could be as problematic as Virgil van Dijk’s or Joe Gomez’s last season.
Yet, with the Liverpool manager still pondering his fate, Tsimikas produced another heartening performance in pre-season.
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The 25-year-old made just seven appearances for Liverpool following his £11.75million move from Olympiacos, but he has been one of the stand-out performers in pre-season.
“Any opportunity, I’m ready,” Tsimikas confidently told the Liverpool club website before the game and he showed it wasn’t just bluster.
Having already provided an assist for Sadio Mane against Stuttgart earlier this summer, Tsimikas once again showed the Anfield crowd what he is capable of.
It was no coincidence that all of Liverpool’s attacking play came down the left-hand side. While it was Takumi Minamino who gave the Reds the lead with a deflected effort, it was the Greek left-back who caught the eye most frequently with his overlapping runs.
Minutes after the opener, he exchanged passes with Minamino and sent in a beautiful first-time curling cross for Roberto Firmino to volley in.
Firmino helped himself to a second before half-time, with Minamino grabbing an assist to go with his goal as Liverpool went into the break 3-0 up.
There were plenty of other indications of Tsimikas’ growing confidence and influence in the side, too. With Robertson resting his right ankle, it was his deputy on set pieces, taking corners from the left-hand side and a second-half free-kick.
Ben Woodburn and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were other fringe players to stake their claim in the second half before a twist in the Tsimikas narrative showed itself.
Just before he was substituted for youngster Owen Beck, Tsimikas showed the chink in his armour. A cross was floated to the back post and Kike rose above the left-back to power in a header to make it 3-1.
Robertson’s attacking attributes are his most obvious, but the Scot is also a sound defender. It seems that while Tsimikas can offer a near like-for-like replacement going forwards, his defending still requires plenty of coaching.
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