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.