Jack Hallows analyses Liverpool’s players and how they played against Manchester City last night.
GET IN LIVERPOOOOOOOOOL! A 1-0 win over Manchester City at home on New Year’s Eve saw Liverpool finish 2016 in second place on the Premier League table and I for one, could not be happier. So, in the Reds gritty and gutsy display, who impressed and who looked worryingly exhausted?
Simon Mignolet – 7 – Didn’t have many saves to make throughout but it was his awareness to come off his line time and again that impressed me against Guardiola’s side. The Belgian looked confident and in the zone throughout the 90 minutes and with his distribution looking remarkably improved too, it could be tough for Loris Karius to win his place back.
Nathaniel Clyne – 7 – Clyne’s a funny one really isn’t he? He defended solidly throughout and barely gave the likes of Silva, Sterling, De Bruyne or Kolarov a sniff but his work on the ball was equally both frustrating and smart. The right back regularly gave the ball away with sloppy passing but would then pop up in the middle of some of Liverpool’s best passing moves just minutes later. His solidity earns him that 7 though.
Dejan Lovren – 7.5 – One awful sliced scissor kick in the second half aside, Lovren was, for the most part, outstanding. The Croatian kept it simple, heading the ball out at every opportunity, thumping it away from goal and just looking to preserve his clean sheet rather than trying to join attacks. Struggled a little late on but held his composure to ensure Aguero had no joy at Anfield for another year running.
Ragnar Klavan – 7.5 – Like his centre back partner, Klavan was inspired throughout the 90 minutes. His no bullsh*t style of play saw him clatter Aguero, Fernandinho, Silva and Sterling across the 90 minutes and while he walked a tightrope after picking up a yellow card with less than 10 minutes gone, he showed enough intelligence and maturity to not flirt with a second.
James Milner – 7 – Did superbly up against Sterling who despite being younger and quicker, couldn’t get the better of Milner even once during the match. The Englishman was a little careless in possession early on and it was his fault Klavan notched up a caution but overall, he put in a tireless shift and helped earn his side their sixth league clean sheet. One great ball in the first half for Firmino highlighted the extra dimension he brings cutting onto his right foot.
Jordan Henderson – 6.5 – Henderson has been a pillar of crisp, smart passing this season but it seemed he was under orders just to get the ball long as often as possible against Guardiola’s men. The Liverpool skipper put in a gritty shift and was unfortunately forced off an hour in due to injury although that seemed more of a precaution than anything else.
Emre Can – 7.5 – Started in Lallana’s usual number eight role and was one of the Reds best outlets in possession, storming up the field and unleashing a decent strike on goal from just outside Claudio Bravo’s box that wasn’t far over the bar. Added extra height and physicality to the Reds XI up which was more than useful against the likes of Toure and Fernandinho. Took on the role of a leader when he was forced into Henderson’s deeper position, egging the Reds on and encouraging them to improve.
Gini Wijnaldum – 8.5 – My man of the match. The Dutchman has put in a lot of solid 6s and 7′s since arriving at Anfield but this game showed us what he’s all about. A bullet header put the Reds ahead early on and he didn’t stop following his second goal of the season. His tackling was strong, he used the ball intelligently and his midfield runs were impressive. It seems Wijnaldum is really starting to understand his new position and this is an encouraging sign ahead of January’s busy schedule.
Adam Lallana – 7.5 – He’s been one of Liverpool’s best players of 2016 and while he wasn’t as effective over 90 minutes this time around he was still one of the best on the field. His gorgeous cross landed right on Wijnaldum’s head for the only goal of the game while the Reds best attacks always seemed to have him at the heart. Definitely looks more at home centrally, however.
Roberto Firmino – 6 – One of two that I was very disappointed with throughout. Started in his favoured number nine role but struggled against the physicality of City’s centre-backs and looked a little lost as the Reds tried a largely ineffective long ball game. Pressed hard for much of the game but looked exhausted later on as he spent much of the last 15 jogging casually or walking.
Sadio Mane – 6 – Another who could’ve been so decisive in this match but just wasn’t. Mane in fairness has played a lot of football of late and looked exhausted come the end of the 90 minutes. His explosive pace still saw him look dangerous on the counter-attack when afforded space but he just seemed as if he couldn’t find his regular cutting edge. Will be sorely missed over the next 4-6 weeks.
Divock Origi – 6.5 – Brought on to give the Reds a new dimension up front and for me he actually looked more dangerous than Firmino in the nine. The Belgian held the ball up well, ran his legs into the ground for his half an hour on the field and looked to be as smart about his ‘time wasting’ as possible towards the end.
Lucas Leiva – N/A – Given a run out to shore things up in what could be his last ever appearance at Anfield if transfer news is to be believed.
Jurgen Klopp – 8.5 – I don’t really know how to feel about what rating to give Klopp. On one hand, we won, kept a clean sheet against a potent attack and earned second in the league table through a gritty display. On the other, our game looked awful and disjointed at times but that’s down to the players, not the manager. He gets a solid 8.5 though because simply, while it wasn’t the best football to watch, it was nice to see us grind a win after going ahead so early on. City were limited to half chances and the Reds mentality to just get in the way and win the game was sensational. Well done Kloppo. Well done.