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.

Substitutes:

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.