Liverpool’s frustrating start to 2017 continued with a performance that lacked cohesion, skill or quality and saw them slip to a 1-0 loss against Southampton in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final. Here are Jack Hallows’ player ratings.
Loris Karius: 7.5 – Made two absolutely fantastic reflex saves in the first half to deny Ryan Bertrand and Nathan Redmond and his distribution throughout was fast, generally precise and effective. Still looked a little suspect whenever Southampton sent in a corner but generally looked much improved on his previous form. Could do nothing about the goal as Klavan left him stranded and did well to even get a touch on it.
Nathaniel Clyne: 6.5 – One of the better defenders but again his delivery in the final third leaves a lot to be desired. Was beaten too easily at times in the first half as well as Southampton carved out some good chances down his side.
Dejan Lovren: 6.5 – A goal-line clearance late on and some good tackles in the second half went some way to redeeming the shocking first half he had but not entirely. Looked incredibly unsure without Henderson ahead of him and while he dealt with things better than his partner, for the most part, he still struggled to look ‘solid’ at any point.
Ragnar Klavan: 5 – An awful miscued clearance practically gifted a goal to Southampton in the first half and he looked sluggish for much of the match. Is a frustrating player due to his ability to be so good one match and so woeful the next.
James Milner: 6 – Not a good game from Milner this one. The Englishman’s crossing was poor, he lunged into tackles and he just generally looked frustrated throughout. Milner has generally been a consistently fantastic performer for the Reds this season but it just wasn’t his day against the Saints.
Lucas Leiva: 6.5 – Not terrible from the Brazilian despite his lack of mobility. Made a few crunching tackles and interceptions but still has a bad habit of breaking up play with too many frustrating fouls.
Emre Can: 5 – Topic of the match on Twitter seemed to be “Emre Can? More like Emre Can’t!” and I’m unfortunately inclined to agree with this statement for once. The German failed to provide anything going forward, looked slow and sluggish in his movement and while he tried to get stuck into tackles, his usual physicality seemed to evade him. Provides worryingly little creatively at times.
Gini Wijnaldum: 5.5 – Not a good night from the Dutchman. While he managed to keep possession a little more successfully than his midfield partner, he noticeably struggled without Lallana buzzing around next to him and failed to provide the creativity needed with the Englishman stationed up front on the right. Not wonderful on the back foot either.
Roberto Firmino: 6 – Had the Reds best chance of the game but hit his half volley practically straight at Fraser Forster. Put in a lot of effort and went on some mazy runs but as has been typical of the Brazilian of late, he frustratingly lacked end product.
Adam Lallana: 6 – Ran hard throughout but looked leggy for much of the match, struggling to have the same impact in the front three as he’s enjoyed throughout the season as part of Liverpool’s regular midfield trio. Attempted to slide Sturridge through with a nice pass in the second half only for the Englishman to fall to the ground rather than battle Van Dijk for the ball.
Daniel Sturbridge: 5 – Really poor night for the Englishman who didn’t have a touch inside the box in the first period. Went to ground far too easily throughout the game looking for cheap fouls and failed to have any meaningful shots. One through ball in the first half nearly sent Firmino in on goal but it was over hit.
Philippe Coutinho: 6.5 – Did his best to make things happen once introduced and looked very impressive in almost every aspect for a guy who’s been out for six weeks. Just glad to have him back fit.
Divock Origi: N/A – Didn’t get much time to be fair but didn’t influence the game at all.
Jürgen Klopp: 6 – Starting a midfield three of Wijnaldum, Can and Lucas was never going to prove entirely successful with the trio lacking creativity and cohesion throughout the 90 minutes and while it sounds like hindsight, I was very surprised to see him pick that option. Made a proactive substitution to introduce Coutinho half an hour from the end but the fact he then didn’t make any other substitutions before 80 minutes was baffling, especially when you saw Puel make attacking substitutions late on to further take the game to Liverpool.