Max Morland addresses how each Liverpool player performed yesterday evening.
In what was a nervy final 10 minutes at Anfield on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp saw his team emerge with all three points to go into Sunday’s fixtures sitting joint top of the table.
After yet another breathtaking attacking display, and countless missed opportunities, Liverpool was pushed right until the final whistle by a vigilant West Brom team.
So how did each player perform against the Baggies?
Loris Karius – 6
The German keeper still hasn’t had a notable shot to save in his short stay at Anfield so far, and despite some criticism for his recent displays, Karius looked more comfortable and assured on the ball than he had done previously. The only negative moment came when he needlessly gave away the corner that led to the West Brom goal.
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Nathaniel Clyne – 7
As we have come to expect of the full back in the past year, Clyne put in yet another good defensive performance, although he wasn’t tested defensively until late on. His attacking contributions, however, are proving a huge asset for the Reds higher up the pitch, and he linked well with Sadio Mane on the right flank.
Joel Matip – 8
The imposing Cameroonian centre-back seems to give the whole defence a boost when he is in the side, as is proved by the fact that Liverpool has conceded just 3 goals in the six games he has played the season, compared to 6 goals in 5 games without him.
Against West Brom, Matip was like a magnet to the ball, clearing almost every ball that came into the box. He was also very good in his distribution to the attackers.
Dejan Lovren – 7
On what was a quiet day for the Croatian, only a brilliant reaction save prevented Lovren from netting his second goal of the season. Again, defending set pieces still needs improvement across the defence, although against the Baggies, there was nothing that Lovren could have done about the goal. He seems to be forming an impeccable partnership with Joel Matip
James Milner – 7
Unlike in recent matches, Milner was somewhat subdued in his ventures forward from full-back, although, he did play a clever pass into Emre Can for Mane’s goal. Despite his lack of experience at full-back, the Englishman looks more than capable of holding down his place and keeping the much maligned Alberto Moreno out of the team.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Similarly to Milner, it was a relatively quiet afternoon for Henderson. The 26-year-old sat back in a deeper role for the majority of the game, keeping his passing simple, and leaving his fellow midfielders to roam freely. He will be disappointed to have picked up a needless booking, however, which rules him out of next Saturday’s match away to Crystal Palace.
Emre Can – 8
The German international put in a much-improved display after showing signs of rustiness on his return from injury against Manchester United. Can was given license to get forward, and, partly due to some last ditch defending, and partly due to some under par finishing, a first Premier League goal of the season eluded him.
Despite his good performance, the 22-year-old may still have to battle Georginio Wijnaldum to maintain his starting spot, with the Dutch international returning from a hip injury.
Adam Lallana – 8
How things have changed for Lallana. Just over one year ago, the Englishman was often the scapegoat in an underperforming Liverpool side, criticised for a lack of end product, and an inability to complete 90 minutes. Just 18 months on, and Lallana has arguably been one of the Reds most crucial players this season.
Against Manchester United on Monday, he came off the bench to make a huge impact on the game, and on Saturday, in his 100th game for the club, he yet again demonstrated his quality. Throughout the match, he never stopped running, and was, as always, very composed on the ball. Unfortunately, there was no contribution from Lallana towards the goals, and he was substituted late on for Georginio Wijnaldum.
Sadio Mané – 8
As has been the case in every match this season, the Senegalese international was a constant threat down the right-hand side of the pitch, often using his immense pace to get the better of the West Brom defence on the counter-attack, although his performance and energy levels will have been helped by the fact that he was almost never needed to help out in defence.
He opened the scoring in the first half with an impeccably timed volley after a lovely team move and managed to get an assist for the second goal.
Phillipe Coutinho – 9
Liverpool’s number 10 was at his brilliant best on Saturday, playing a key role in both goals. From a simple James Milner pass, Coutinho, who was a step ahead of the Baggie’s defence all match, audaciously dummied the ball, which left space for the marauding Emre Can and Firmino to engineer the first goal.
Just 15 minutes later, Coutinho was again terrorising the opposition defence, twisting, turning and smashing the ball into the net for his fourth goal of the season. Later on in the match, the Brazilian tired and was replaced by Lucas in the 88th minute.
Roberto Firmino – 8
Firmino has arguably been Liverpool’s standout performer so far this season, and this was another match in which he demonstrated his class. It was the 25-year-old’s deft chip which set up the first goal, and he seems to be thriving in his ‘false nine’ position, wherein he is given the freedom to drift between positions, making him so difficult to mark.
He was also a key asset in helping to regain possession against West Brom, tirelessly chasing down the ball high up the pitch. Costing only £29 million from Hoffenheim last summer, the Brazilian seems a real bargain on current form.
Georginio Wijnaldum (for Lallana – 79′)
Returning from a hip injury suffered on international break, Wijnaldum slotted seamlessly into the team for the last ten minutes, and was inches away from securing the win with a curling effort from distance.
Lucas (for Coutinho – 88′)
The Brazilian was brought onto the field by Klopp in an attempt to secure the victory in the late stages of the game. Lucas had no time to make a real impact.
Divock Origi (for Mané – 90+1′)
Brought on to slow the game down, the Belgian youngster barely got a touch of the ball and had no impact on the game.
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