Jürgen Klopp’s first game at Anfield. An interesting night, but before there is an overwrought inquisition from those that fail to understand the mechanics of football, an awful lot of credit must go to Rubin Kazan. To play away from home for fifty-five minutes with ten men and manage a point is no mean feat.
To those who thought it would be a foregone conclusion and three points in the bag to Liverpool on the basis of having a new manager (I include these so called “experts” in that, too); here’s the thing. The man now occupying the summit of Liverpool Football Club was appointed to eradicate the bad habits which had crept in under his predecessor. These things take time and some will do awfully well to remember that. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Furthermore, while the atmosphere at Anfield was much improved, here’s a message to those who left the ground early. Do you leave the cinema before the final scene? Very poor form and while I welcome objectivity, there is simply no room for it on this topic.
Ratings as follows:
Simon Mignolet - 6: Made one fantastic save which kept Liverpool in the game. Apart from that, he endured a quiet night. A noticeable improvement in his distribution, looking to move the ball much quicker.
Nathaniel Clyne - 6: Was caught out for Rubin Kazan’s opening goal. Looked unsure in the final third, too, however delivered two good crosses; one of which Christian Benteke should’ve at least hit the target.
Martin Skrtel - 6: The much maligned centre-half was initially caught too deep for Rubin Kazan’s opening goal. The Slovakian’s detractors will probably find a way to lay blame on his doorstep for the lack of communication with Clyne for the goal, however there’s not much he could have done on that front.
Mamadou Sakho - 7: Followed up his Tottenham performance with yet another imposing display. Liverpool’s best player, with several timely challenges which had the KOP chanting his name. Easily one of the most important players in the current squad and displays the desire required for this club.
Alberto Moreno- 7: One of the big improvers under Klopp. The young Spaniard’s energy has increased, while his defensive awareness has improved in leaps and bounds over the last two matches. His ability to track back has been a feature.
Joe Allen - 5: Was largely anonymous throughout his first-half outing. Substituted at half-time. One could argue that he was subbed as he continues on the road to full fitness. On the flipside, one could also argue that he was hooked.
Emre Can - 6: Liverpool’s goal scorer had an indifferent night. Carelessly gave the ball away on numerous occasions, but his will to win the ball back was a highlight. The young German is merciless in the challenge and once he improves his ball retention, he will be a key figure in this side.
James Milner (C) - 6: An up and down display from the England International. Plenty of industry, but lacked the final product. The performance was a summation of his Liverpool career, thus far.
Adam Lallana - 7: Liverpool’s best player along with Sakho. All his performance needed was a goal. It appears we’re witnessing that extra twenty percent Klopp eluded to earlier in the week. Has more room to improve with his final pass but the ability is clearly there.
Philippe Coutinho - 6: Another quiet outing from the little Brazilian. Once Benteke assumes the role of number nine, I suspect we will see a vast improvement from him.
Divock Origi - 6: Was involved in the lead up to Liverpool’s equaliser. Apart from that, he barely had a sniff. His first touch is good, but still very raw. A big ask for such a young player with so little experience to lead the line.
Lucas - 6: Helped keep Liverpool’s shape in the second half. Won several tackles and already you can see that he has become one of Klopp’s entrusted soldiers in the dressing room.
Christian Benteke - 6: Put himself about and came close to the winner, hitting the woodwork. Should have done better with Nathaniel Clyne’s cross, but given this was his return after a one month lay-off, expectedly he lacked the sharpness. Will score goals provided he can stay fit and string together a good amount of games.
Roberto Firmino - 6: Another player back from injury, he made some intelligent runs off the ball in-between the lines. It’s evident that there’s a quality player here. I imagine Klopp will feel he has some good things to work with regarding the Brazilian playmaker.
By Simon K.