Kostas Tsimikas feels wrath of James Milner again but performance in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Norwich bodes well

The Greece international made his full Premier League debut deputising for injured left-back Andy Robertson at Carrow Road.

<p>Kostas Tsimikas made his full Premier League debut in Liverpool’s defeat of Norwich. Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images</p>

Kostas Tsimikas made his full Premier League debut in Liverpool’s defeat of Norwich. Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Kostas Tsimikas knows what it’s like to be on the wrong side of an outburst from James Milner.

In a pre-season friendly, shortly after joining Liverpool from Olympiacos last year, the Greek defender got an earful from the veteran when he failed to receive the ball back during an encouraging foray.

And on his full Premier League debut against Norwich City, Tsimikas felt the wrath of Milner for a second time.

Only this time, rather than a foul-mouthed verbal blasting, it was a slap to the face.

After giving the ball away on the edge of the box, Milner was clearly telling Tsimikas to wake up and not be so profligate.

Luckily enough, no harm came from such complacency and the Reds eased to a 3-0 victory on the opening day of the 2021-22 season. Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were all on target.

Deputising for Robertson

Liverpool were dealt a blow in a final dress rehearsal against Athletic Bilbao last week when Andy Robertson was forced off with an ankle injury.

Andy Robertson hobbled off injured in Liverpool’s friendly with Athletic Bilbao last week. Picture: Jan Kruger/ Getty Images

The Scotland captain has developed into one of the best left-backs in the world and was pivotal to the Reds capturing the Champions League and Premier League in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Robertson didn’t miss a single league game last season - highlighting just how important he is to Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Tsimikas had to be patient for opportunities last term following his £11.25 million arrival from Olympiacos. He managed only six minutes of action in the top flight.

But because of the 25-year-old’s eye-catching pre-season performances, there weren’t too many fans who feared Liverpool would be left short in Robertson’s absence.

Overall, it proved an encouraging afternoon for Tsimikas at Carrow Road and it bodes well going forward. However, parts of his game showed why he is understudy to Robertson.

What’s been said

Klopp was full of praise when asked about Tsimikas’ performance during his post-match media duties.

Jurgen Klopp celebrates Liverpool’s win at Norwich. Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The Liverpool manager said: “Very good for at least 80 minutes. He played good, was involved in all the fancy stuff, defended well then someone pulled the plug, which is normal.

“It was a really good [full] debut, he played a really good game.”

What he did well

Tsimikas’ main strength is his attacking prowess.

Against Norwich, he was constantly looking to bomb forward and was a constant outlet.

There were several times when he linked up with Sadio Mane down the left and that’s a partnership that will blossom as they play together more.

And some of his crossing in the first half was highly impressive, with Klopp likely disappointed no-one really got on the end of his deliveries.

His comfortable use of his weaker right foot when in danger is also a notable attribute.

Defensively, Tsimikas was positionally sound when it came to clearing crosses in the opening 45 minutes. There were two occasions where he was in the right place to easily clear the danger at the back post.

In the second half, Tsimikas came close to netting his first Liverpool goal when the ball fell to him kindly at the back post.

He did the right thing and got over the ball, arrowing a low effort towards the bottom corner only for Norwich keeper Tim Krul to make a decent save.

Where he needs to improve

The main area where Tsimikas can - and will - develop is his fitness.

As the game wore on, the former Willem II loanee’s energy levels dropped noticeably.

Fatigue is probably the main reason why he was caught napping on the ball which led to Milner’s wake-up call.

Moments later, there was then an uncharacteristically poor cross he should have done better with when in space.

But as Tsimikas plays more Premier League games and gets to know what’s required, his stamina will only improve.

Scrutinising his performance further, there was one misplaced pass in the 24th minute that caused Liverpool danger.

Norwich’s Todd Cantlwell almost scored following a Kostas Tsimikas mistake in Liverpool’s defeat of Norwich. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Todd Cantwell profited from the misplaced attempted ball back to Virgil van Dijk and hit a speculative effort from long range that almost caught out Reds keeper Alisson.

Tsimikas was also turned inside out by Canaries winger Milot Rashica on the stroke of half-time, but Liverpool dealt with the situation.

What’s next for Tsimikas

With Robertson sidelined for the next few weeks, Tsimikas will continue in Klopp’s starting line-up.

Liverpool welcome Burnley to Anfield next Saturday, but the real test for Tsimikas will arrive the following week.

The Reds host Chelsea on Saturday, August 28 and Tsimikas will come up against a potent side plenty have tipped for the title.