Monday, 30 November 2015

Player Ratings: Liverpool F.C. vs. Swansea City A.F.C. - 1-0

Firstly, apologies for those who expected Bordeaux player ratings. Not being in front of a computer prevented me from posting, so grovelling apologies, folks. Onto more pressing matters…
On the back of the midweek success in the Europa League, it was important to continue the momentum in the Premier League and although Swansea City had been struggling, nothing’s a given in this league and when the elements also play a part, this point can’t be stressed enough.
The 1-0 victory wasn’t pretty. The penalty was dubious and although it will polarise opinion, I think it was a decision lucky to be given the home team’s way. You take what you get in this league, though. Like all wins, you look for the positives. Firstly, there’s little doubt that Liverpool deserved the three points. They dominated possession and created more chances than their opponents. Secondly, a clean sheet is always a welcomed aspect in any victory and, of course, the return of English duo, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge.
With the majority of Liverpool’s rivals dropping points this weekend, it was imperative the Reds secured the win at home. Without counting those chickens, having already played away against the top five teams of last season (and let’s not forget Stoke!), it appears Liverpool are in an encouraging position, provided they can continue to secure maximum points at home.   
Ratings as follows:
Simon Mignolet - 6: The Belgian didn’t have a lot to do, but worryingly, he appeared rooted to his goal line on set pieces during the second half. The inclement weather conditions didn’t help his cause.   
Nathaniel Clyne - 7: Didn’t put a foot wrong all evening and linked up superbly with Jordan Ibe. The only concern is the amount of games he is involved in. The lack of competition for the right back position may be an area which Jurgen Klopp intends to strengthen in January. This hinges on Jon Flanagan’s return, of course.
Martin Skrtel - 7: Once again solid, yet largely untroubled for the most part. Having Clyne to his right is a good insurance policy for the Slovakian who continues to grow in stature.
Dejan Lovren - 7: Whisper the following: Dejan Lovren is starting to look like the player Liverpool acquired in the summer of 2014. He is soundly going about his business and once again gave a solid account of himself, with several timely, no-nonsense challenges.
Alberto Moreno- 7: Like Clyne, the Spaniard produced a very solid display at both ends of the pitch. His defensive ability appears to be growing as each week passes. The little man is really thriving under Klopp.
Emre Can - 7: The German started the game in brilliant fashion, dominating the midfield with several key challenges. He almost turned provider for Christian Benteke with a delightful ball into the box. Faded a bit as the game wore on, but overall provided a very able display in Lucas’ absence.
James Milner – 8 (C) Man of the Match: Like Can, bossed the midfield in the early stages and overall, got through a mountain of work off the ball. He took his penalty with consummate ease. The former Manchester City man is starting to kick on, which is required given Henderson and Sturridge are back in the reckoning and vying for starting positions.
Jordan Ibe - 7: Liverpool’s most dangerous attacking threat with his trademark mazy incursions throughout the evening. He is starting to use his body a little better in shielding the ball, too. Constantly developing and, like Moreno, the young Englishman is blossoming under Klopp’s management.
Roberto Firmino - 6: Pressed well and won the ball in crucial areas of the pitch. Like Thursday evening, his passing was a touch off. It will be interesting to see him develop alongside Coutinho and Sturridge, should the latter manage to stay fit.
Adam Lallana - 6:  Like Firmino, the former Southampton man pressed very well, but lacked the cutting-edge in the final third. Could perhaps do with a spell midweek against his former employer’s in order to recharge the batteries.
Christian Benteke - 6: Lacked the service from the outset. His touch proved too heavy for his only clear cut chance, which was provided by Emre Can. A handful for the opposition and now that Sturridge is fit, it will be interesting to see how Klopp utilises the big man.
Jordan Henderson - 6: A very much welcomed return for the Liverpool skipper, who was introduced just after the hour mark. Klopp will no doubt ease Henderson in, but it’s great to have him back. He shored up the midfield after Milner’s match-winner and will be happy to get some game time into his legs.
Daniel Sturridge – N/R: Like Henderson, it’s great to see Liverpool’s number one striker back on the pitch. When Sturridge plays, Liverpool’s chances of success are far greater. It really is that simple.   
Kolo Toure – N/R:  Came on in the last minute of the match to run the clock down.
By Simon K.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Player Ratings: Manchester City F.C. vs. Liverpool F.C. - 1-4

Dreamland? If the away result against Chelsea wasn't something that had Liverpool support's ensconced in such fantasies then the result at the Etihad Stadium against league leaders, Manchester City, should have many - at the very least - knocking at the door.

Many readers on here will have noticed the apparent love-in towards one Jürgen Klopp. That won't change anytime soon. His tactical masterstroke has been demonstrated.

I wasn't sure how the team would fair after the defeat of Crystal Palace. It wasn't a bad performance, per se. You just don't like to see your team lose prior to an International break. However, as International break's go, this appeared to be a welcomed one. A time where the fanfare around Merseyside subsided, somewhat. Two more weeks for Klopp to plot. And plot he did. This was a tactical master class - of that there is no question.

With tactical masterstrokes, there are slight nuances that equate to such successes, which sometimes go unnoticed. The German appears to have ironed out a few deficiencies, which have riddled Liverpool for the last eighteen months. The defending from set pieces was the best we've seen for quite some time. The same can be said of Liverpool's ability to actually look threatening from set pieces at the other end of the pitch, too. Will it last? Only time will tell.

It's been an emotional week. For obvious reasons, a week where football was rightly placed down the pecking order. It's great to have it back and the actions prior to kick-off demonstrated just what the game of football can give to the world. Solidarity.

Peace to Paris.

Player ratings as follows:

Simon Mignolet - 7: On the rare occasion he was called upon, he did well. His save from Sergio Aguero an obvious highlight. Distribution is still a glaring issue, however his organisation from set pieces was the surprising feature from the Belgian. He marshalled those in front of him very well.

Nathaniel Clyne - 8: Defended with assurance and negated an potential incursions from fellow countryman, Raheem Sterling. In the first-half, he made an extremely difficult clearance from a Kevin De Bruyne cross look easy.

Martin Skrtel - 9: One of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt. Took up extremely good positions in defence and dealt well with Aguero throughout. It was the Slovakian's rugged clearance that led to City's goal, however the big man's thunderbolt and match-sealing goal well and truly made up for the initial defensive indiscretion. Make no bones about it; the man was simply immense.

Dejan Lovren - 8: Ditto for the much maligned Croatian. He was brilliant in the tackle and snuffed out various aerial threats not to mention on the floor, where he won various fifty-fifties in crucial areas of the pitch. Like many around him, seems to be growing in confidence under Jürgen Klopp.

Alberto Moreno- 8: Like Clyne, defended extremely well and in attack used the ball well in tight spaces. His final ball can still improve, but overall it was a pleasing performance from the young Spaniard.

Emre Can - 9: Easily his best game for Liverpool and like Skrtel, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, a case of splitting hairs for man of the match honours. His back heel to Coutinho for Liverpool's third was exquisite while his performance in midfield was colossus.  

Lucas - 7: His renaissance continues. Surprisingly, he had few touches in the first half. Like always, he helped keep the shape in midfield and although not the fastest player in the team, his positioning is up there with the best of them. Unfortunately picked up his fifth booking, which means he misses the next match against Swansea.

James Milner (C) - 8: Like many of his teammates, his best game in a red shirt and ironically it came against his former team. A very workmanlike display, which saw him occupy very important positions defensively. Proved a good nexus between midfield and attack. He was almost red-faced midway throughout the second-half with a sloppy back pass which went unpunished. All told, a vast improvement from the former City man.

Adam Lallana - 8:  Yet another tireless effort from a player whom Klopp appears very fond of. His pressing in the first twenty minutes was relentless, while his silky skills were on display for most of the evening. Linked well with Coutinho and Firmino and helped create space for both to operate in. You can feel the goals are coming for the Englishman.

Philippe Coutinho - 9: Clinical in assassin-like fashion, with his fourth goal in his last three Premier League matches. The little Brazilian was merciless on the counter attack, scoring one and serving one up on a platter for his Brazilian teammate, Firmino. Without doubt Liverpool's heartbeat and many supporters will be hoping his withdrawal from the game was nothing more than cramp.

Roberto Firmino - 9 (Man of the Match): A rather decorative plaudit given how many outstanding individual displays were on offer from the men in red. Sweeping statements aside, the Brazilian's performance was one of the great false nine displays I've had the pleasure of witnessing from a Liverpool player. Two assists and a goal, he could have had a hat-trick if it weren't for Joe Hart's heroics in the City goal. Whether he continues as a number nine remains to be seen, but one thing's for certain; the player formerly of Hoffenheim has arrived on Merseyside.


Jordan Ibe - 7: Another lively display from the youngster. A very handy weapon to bring off the bench to harass tiring defenders.

Christian Benteke - N/R: Introduced late to add further punishment to City on the counter attack and almost did so: Hart once again keeping Liverpool at bay.

Kolo Toure - N/R: Came on late to provide solidity next to Lucas in midfield.

By Simon K.



Monday, 9 November 2015

Player Ratings: Liverpool F.C. vs. Crystal Palace F.C. - 1-2

Ahhhh, the trials and tribulations of sport. There are winners, and yes, there are losers. Despite the upbeat feeling around Anfield this past week, sport always produces those grounding moments and Jürgen Klopp’s men found that out at the hands of their newly crowned bogey team, Crystal Palace. The loss – and reality check – was the first under Klopp and although Liverpool could have quite easily won the match, the way in which they lost it was symptomatic of some of the defeats endured under Brendan Rodgers: a game riddled with costly individual errors.

Klopp’s post match analysis was – as always – insightful. Were the players really tired or was it just a case of feeling tired just because those on the fringes say they were [tired]? Much will be made of the Europa League and the quick turnaround between games - much of the noise in the lead up to this match was focused on this very topic.

Statistics suggest that a Premier League team has less than a 33 per cent chance of winning after a Europa League fixture. Not good odds, but I admire Klopp’s philosophy. That’s the mentality he is trying to inject into the club and judging by today’s display, some of his post-match comments were a slight dig at his players. Perhaps not a dig, per se, but he is certainly throwing down the gauntlet to one or two of them. A harsh analogy? Perhaps, however I believe this is the game where Klopp will have learnt the most from his players, thus far. Perhaps the club, too.

"When Palace scored I saw many people leave. I felt very alone in this moment," said the Liverpool manager.

I’m glad he’s called out this section of supporters. It needed saying and those who have read the previous posts on here will remember my cinema analogy with regards to the exact same subject. Along with the result and Sakho’s injury, seeing people leave before the final whistle was the worst aspect of today. How do you stop people leaving early? Call them out for what they really are, I say. This mob can only be defined as fairweather supporters and it's a crying shame that this mentality has crept into the club. Sadly, it’s becoming inherently clear that this is the age we live in. The age of the narcissist. Supporters who support a club when the going is good but run a mile when it’s not. For me, this mentality says a lot about an individual, and if you haven’t already noticed, these people are not my cup of tea at all.

Klopp's reaction after Coutinho's equaliser encapsulated everything about the man. Turning round to give supporters stood in the Paddock a high five. Had we've equalised, he would've turnover round to a slew of empty seats. Not really the principles this club was built on, is it? 

Ratings as follows:

Simon Mignolet - 5: Poor distribution in a display that had shades of his early lack of form last season. Some may question whether he could have parried wide with his initial save in Palace’s match winner. Perhaps harsh, but it wasn’t a good day for the Belgian.   

Nathaniel Clyne - 7: Had a good game and provided plenty of energy up and down the right hand flank. Linked up well with Jordan Ibe.

Martin Skrtel - 7: Endured a busy day with Yannick Bolaise and Bakary Sako causing him endless amounts of torment. Given his history against the archetypical physical striker throughout the league, he coped quite well.

Mamadou Sakho - 6: Perhaps a bigger blow than the loss itself was seeing the ever-present Frenchman limp off with a suspected knee ligament injury. It didn’t look good and many Liverpool supporters will be crossing their fingers and toes in the coming days.

Alberto Moreno- 6: Produced a sloppy pass which led to Palace’s opener. Had plenty of the ball in the final third, but rarely did he make the possession count.  

Lucas – 6 (C): Did he best and covered a lot of ground for the heavy legged Emre Can. Like many, looked tired towards the backend of the game. The International break has come at a good time for the Brazilian.

Emre Can - 5: The German was largely accountable for Palace’s opener, with yet another timid attempt to clear away from goal. Looked out on his feet before being substituted in the second half. Should Jordan Henderson be fit for the trip to Manchester City in a fortnight’s time, it may very well be at Can’s expense.

Jordan Ibe - 7: Liverpool’s brightest player, carrying on from his fine display midweek in Russia. Linked well with Clyne and got to the by-line on numerous occasions. His end product needs work, but that should come in time.  

Philippe Coutinho - 7: Along with Ibe, was Liverpool’s most creative player and capped off a performance with another goal. A welcoming sign from a player who looks to be slowly getting his groove back.

Adam Lallana - 6:  Looked tidy and provided a solid work rate, however lacked conviction in the final third, which could be an ongoing reproach against the Englishman. Needs to add more goals to his game if he wishes hold down a spot in the starting side.

Christian Benteke - 6: Had a couple of really good chances to put the Reds in front – not least a header midway through the second half, which he should have scored from. Will experience better days in front of goal.


Dejan Lovren- 6: Came on for Sakho in the first half and was satisfactory. Depending on the extent of Sakho’s injury, the Croatian may get an extended run in the team.

Roberto Firmino - 5: The Brazilian was introduced in the second half and didn’t influence the game at all. Switched off after Mignolet’s save for Palace’s match winner. A step backwards after several good games. You feel he needs a goal to really get going. 

Divock Origi – N/R:  Came on after Palace’s match winning goal in hope of snatching a late equaliser.

By Simon K.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Player Ratings: F.C. Rubin Kazan vs. Liverpool F.C. - 0-1

Jürgen Klopp's men travelled to Russia for their Europa League match against Rubin Kazan. An eleven hour jaunt across Europe. Historically, English teams come home empty handed from Europe's east, where wins have proven hard to come by.

Klopp left no stone unturned, it seems. Rather than leaving key personnel behind at Melwood, the plane east consisted of a full squad. This says a lot of Liverpool's new manager, in my opinion. Every game and every competition this club competes in is important. I believe this notion has been lost over the last couple of years. Liverpool exist to win trophies and to do that the club needs its best players on the pitch.  

In yet another act of defying the odds, Liverpool came away with a victory and although it may not have been pretty at times, as they say, the only important thing in football is the result. A 1-0 victory away from home will be very much welcomed, not to mention another clean sheet; the third under Klopp, thus far. Three wins on the spin and although 1-1 draws can be a nasty habit, so can winning, and it seems the Reds are starting to realise this. The win now puts Liverpool in a good position to qualify for the Europa League group stages. It's also a nice shot in the arm ahead of their clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday in the Premier League.

Player ratings as follows:

Simon Mignolet - 6: A very quiet night for the Belgian, who probably needed a blanket at times due to the cold weather. 

Nathaniel Clyne - 7: Once again dependable and got forward well throughout.

Dejan Lovren - 6: Not a lot to do, but dealt well with what came his way. Strong in the challenge and looked good next Sakho.

Mamadou Sakho - 7: Once again imperious. Didn't lose a challenge all night and made a brilliant last ditch tackle during Rubin Kazan's most dangerous moment in attack.

Alberto Moreno- 6: A steady performance from the Spaniard. Provided nice width in attack whilst largely untroubled in defence.

Emre Can - 7: Along with Joe Allen, controlled the midfield. Once again, a tireless effort from the German.

Joe Allen - 7: A very tidy performance from little Welshman. Kept the ball moving and helped keep the shape when Liverpool found it hard to break down their opposition in the final third.

Jordan Ibe - 8 (Man of the Match): The young Englishman was Liverpool's most dangerous player and capped off his impressive display with his first Liverpool goal. An intelligent run and a very well taken goal. Very much looking like the player we saw last year.

James Milner (C) - 6: Almost opened the scoring within the first three minutes; his effort clipping the crossbar. Was also denied a goal in the second half. Tried hard but you feel he has a lot more to give this team.

Roberto Firmino - 6: Appeared frustrated throughout large parts of the match, however played a very clever ball to Ibe in the lead-up to Liverpool's match winning goal. The class is certainly there. With more game time, he will improve.

Christian Benteke - 6: Like Firmino, found it hard to break down Rubin Kazan's defence. Looked far more threatening once Liverpool went a goal up.


Adam Lallana - 6:  A second half introduction. Looked dangerous on the counter attack.

Lucas - N/R: Introduced in the last ten minutes to help hold onto the lead.

Martin Skrtel - N/R: Liverpool's last substitution. Came on in injury time to run the clock down.

By Simon K. 


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Player Ratings: Chelsea F.C. vs. Liverpool F.C. - 1-3

That's why we love the game of football. For all the dowdy days and indifferent results we endure as supporters, they are worth it just to experience the moments of complete and utter euphoria. Ladies and gentlemen. Without tempting fate, it very much feels like Jürgen Klopp has arrived in the Premier League, getting his first league win as manager in emphatic fashion. Yes, Liverpool have finally beaten a "top four" team (I hear the ironic sniggers considering Chelsea's current predicament, but you catch my drift) - a feat as rare as hen's teeth during Brendan Rodgers' tenure. A goal down at Stamford Bridge inside four minutes and you just wondered how on earth Liverpool would get themselves back into it, given the notable lack of goals and the damning statistics of picking up points once going a goal down.

Klopp works fast, though, it seems. If this result is anything to go by, the shift in mentality with this group of players appears to be seismic. The improvement, no doubt largely due to a six day break between games for a lot of the starting eleven. It also helped that most of Chelsea's starting eleven played 120 minutes midweek in the Capital One Cup away to Stoke.

Much will be made of Jose Mourinho and his current position at Chelsea. I won't speculate nor waste your time in any diatribes on the subject. Why? To put it bluntly, I don't like the man, therefore I'll choose not to speak about him. The day was simply about Liverpool. A win that defines a new era in the club's history. That's how much this victory means and, indeed, rates.

Player ratings as follows:

Simon Mignolet - 6: Apart from picking the ball up from the back of the net, it was a surprisingly quiet afternoon for the Belgium. Made a great recovery from Oscar's long range effort in the second half, after being initially caught off the line.

Nathaniel Clyne - 7: Liverpool's creative outlet in the first half, continuously marauding up and down the right hand touchline. Won several fifty-fifty challenges in the second half, too. Ever-present defensively and continues to improve in the final third. A player with a higher ceiling than most in the current squad.

Martin Skrtel - 8: His best performance in a back four formation for as long as I can remember. Commanding in defence with several important blocks. Had Diego Costa in his pocket all afternoon and had he made more of their altercation in the second half, the Spaniard would have been sent off.

Mamadou Sakho - 7: Yet another fine display from the Frenchman. His ability to read the game a real feature of his. Barely lost out in an aerial duel all afternoon and looked solid next to Martin Skrtel. A term not usually associated when the two are mentioned in the same sentence, however their partnership seems to be developing nicely under Klopp.

Alberto Moreno- 5: Not the best game from the young Spaniard, who reverted back to old habits, ball watching for Chelsea's opener. Unlike previous weeks, he also looked quite loose in possession throughout. Almost sealed the match late on with a counter attacking raid, which produced a good save from Asmir Begovic.

Emre Can - 7: A tireless effort from the German who provided able assistance to Lucas in controlling the midfield. Still needs to improve in possession but his work rate can't be questioned.

Lucas - 8: Grew into the game and dominated the midfield in imperious fashion. Had it not been for Countinho's brace, the Man of the Match honours would have been his. In the last fifteen years no other Liverpool player has continuously defied the odds as much as this man. A testament to his character. Despite the shower of plaudits, he probably should have been sent off for a second bookable offence prior to Philippe Coutinho's second goal.

James Milner (C) - 5: Despite the euphoric result, it was the skipper's worst game thus far for the club. Lost Cesar Azpilicueta for the first goal with a poor challenge and looked laboured in possession on numerous occasions. Was rightly substituted just after the hour mark.

Adam Lallana - 7:  Worked tirelessly off the ball, incessantly pressing in the attacking third. Was involved in some bright lead-up moments, none more important than the dummy for Christian Benteke's match sealing goal.

Philippe Coutinho - 8 (Man of the Match): The two goal hero. Rather sloppy in possession at times, but two superbly taken goals, which were both of the highest quality. Ended his goal drought, not to mention his previous lean run of form. A performance many would only dream of in the Premier League, particularly away from home against the reigning champions. The little maestro will hopefully kick on from here.

Roberto Firmino - 7: Despite playing in the unfamiliar role of lone striker, the Brazilian played his part, displaying some clever turns and found space where most wouldn't. Provided a clever pass to find Coutinho for the opening goal. Like his Brazilian teammate, he should garner a lot of confidence from this performance.


Christian Benteke - 7: Proved to be the outlet Liverpool were crying out for up top. Took his goal like a proper goal scorer and was involved in everything positive for Liverpool in the attacking third. Going about his business in fine fashion and with very little fanfare. Brendan Rodgers' parting gift, it seems.

Jordan Ibe - N/R: A good substitution by Klopp, as the young Englishman provided an outlet on the counter. Heavily involved in the lead-up play for Benteke's goal. Preceding this, could have found himself on the score sheet with an effort which was deflected wide. Seems to have his groove back. 

Dejan Lovren - N/R: Introduced in injury time to run down the clock.

By Simon K.