Sunday, 18 October 2015

Player Ratings - Tottenham Hotspur Football Club vs. Liverpool Football Club: 0-0



Well, they say International breaks are non-eventful. Much of the football world possessed intrigue at the news that Jürgen Klopp was appointed as the new manager of Liverpool Football Club. Those who support the club have been in a state of delirium ever since (I won't lie, I still am). Let's be honest; there hasn't been this much hysteria with a managerial appointment since Chelsea appointed Jose Mourinho back in 2004.

The feelings are hard to pinpoint. Walking down the street then breaking into a foolish grin with the stirring thought of "this guy's ours!" Let's just say it's a time to be feverously optimistic as an LFC supporter.

So, with a change in Liverpool's managerial "hot seat" (it isn't that hot, by the way. The man has all the time he needs, as far as I'm concerned),  I thought of manufacturing a few changes of my own. Check-in here after every match. I'll be doing my best to update you with player ratings.

As coincidence unfolded, Klopp's first Premier League match in charge against Tottenham Hotspur was indeed the same fixture in which Rafael Benitez took charge for the first time as LFC manager. To continue on this path, the same result followed. As subplots go, both Klopp and Benitez also signed their respective contracts in the same Liverpool hotel. A theme developing...?

Although the match ended in a nil all draw, the signs were positive, against a very good Spurs team, who seem very much on the up, with only one loss to their name this season, which came on the opening day at Old Trafford against Manchester United.

Against Spurs, we witnessed a snapshot of Klopp's master plan. Higher pressing and a far more aggressive style of play off the ball. Gegenpressing. Chaos football. Welcome, Jürgen. It's going to be "wild".

My player ratings as follows:

Simon Mignolet - 8: Man of the Match. Made several important saves, including one of his best in a Liverpool shirt against Clinton Mua Njie, who didn't do much wrong in his attempt to put Spurs ahead. Mignolet's shot stopping abilities have never been questioned. In fact, I would imagine his YouTube compilation would prove compelling viewing. His distribution remains a concern, however Klopp will move to try and rectify this aspect of his game.

Nathaniel Clyne - 6: Very aggressive off the ball and won several fifty-fifty challenges higher up the pitch. He seemed to defend as a wing back at times, covering for Can, whose pressing higher up the pitch was relentless.

Martin Skrtel - 6: Endured a tough tussle with Harry Kane, but made some timely interventions throughout. More suited to the sweeping role, so it will be interesting to see how Klopp assesses his style of play in the coming weeks. He's survived the cull from four different managers, so it wouldn't surprise me if he once again defies the odds.  

Mamadou Sakho - 7: A performance which illustrated why he is the best centre-half at the club. The away fans were singing his name and from there he grew from strength to strength. His goal line clearance was his major contribution in a day where, all told, he didn't put a foot wrong.

Alberto Moreno- 6: A very solid performance by the young Spaniard, who dealt with Njie's attacking threat for the most part. One who will certainly benefit from Klopp's pressing tactics.

Emre Can - 7: The young German was tireless in his preferred position of central midfield. His pressing was unremitting throughout, where his ability to break up play in key areas of the pitch led to several half chances on the counter attack. He also came close to a winner late on. Will no doubt flourish under Klopp.

Lucas - 6: A steady no-frills performance by the Brazilian statesman. He goes about his business proficiently, which will no doubt please his new manager. Another player who defies the odds year-in-year-out. Along with Can, provided good protection for a back four that hasn't been afforded such luxuries for the past six months.

James Milner (C) - 6: As many predicted, the skipper was shifted from the central midfield out to his more accustomed right hand position. Tucked in well  at times and given time, should strike up a solid partnership with Clyne on the right hand flank. We are yet to see his best, but his work ethic should please his new manager.

Adam Lallana - 7:  Started off the game brilliantly, breaking Spurs' backline with some impressive incursions. He drifted in and out of the game, but his pressing off the ball was impressive. Certainly a player who could shine under Klopp, provided he can stay fit for a prolonged period of time.

Philippe Coutinho - 6: A quiet day for the little maestro, but that was more to do with Spurs' ability to press off the ball. Both sides cancelled out one another for the most part, with Coutinho's opposite number in Christian Eriksen suffering a similar fate. A spate of injuries to Liverpool's strikers has hindered Coutinho's consistency this season.  

Divock Origi - 6: It was the young Belgium's first start in the Premier League and one which almost produced a goal. Really, he should have scored with his header hitting the underside of the bar. Did well in what could be described as somewhat of a baptism of fire. Raw ability, but possess all the attributes to contribute this season.

Substitutes:

Joe Allen - N/R: The Welsh International came on late to shore things up in the midfield. His ability to move the ball quickly is a quality Klopp will admire, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in.

Jordan Ibe - N/R: A nice cameo from the young Englishman. His direct style of play will prove important against tiring opposition. Created the opening for Can's effort late on, which went just wide.  

By Simon K.