Player ratings: Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff City

Mane-and-Shaqiri-celebrate-on-pitch
Another valuable win recorded yesterday with what on paper looks like a convincing win but it wasn’t always as comfortable as the score line suggests. Let’s see how our boys scored.

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Alisson (6) - Once again very little to do for Alisson. Could he have done slightly better with the goal? Possibly but I think it would be harsh to lay the blame at his feet. Had to concede a league goal at Anfield eventually.

TAA (6.5) - Spent more of the game as an attacker and was heavily involved in our build up play but like the rest of our team this season, he was plagued by the lack of a final ball. Like Gomez in recent weeks though, Trent plays with a maturity well beyond his years which is testament to the football education he’s received at the club.

Lovren (6.5) - Fairly solid performance from Lovren, couple of heart in mouth moments aside but we’ve come to expect that from Dejan most weeeks. I prefer Gomez but Lovren has become a solid CB for us most of the time. Let his man go for the Cardiff goal but a bit unlucky given the touch it took off Van Dijk.

Van Dijk (6.5) - Desperately unlucky not to score with a well taken header that hit the post. It was his touch that led to Cardiff’s goal, probably could have done better there but a little unlucky the ball fell so kindly for the Cardiff forward.

Moreno (6) - A decent showing from Moreno but he always looks good as an attacking fullback and he had very little defending to do. Beaten too easily in the build up to the Cardiff goal but a lively display considering how little he’s played.

Fabinho (7) - Not quite the excellent display of midweek, caught in possession a couple of times early on but another really solid display from Fabinho, especially as the game wore on. Looks to be an expert tackler in one on one situations and is a real physical presence in midfield. He has a good passing range as well and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him moving forward.

Wijnaldum (7) Gini is growing in stature at the club. He has more authority about him now and is taking responsibility. Noticed him telling Fabinho to push up a couple of times yesterday. Other than that, did what Gini does, kept and won back possession well. If Gini just offered a little more in an attacking sense, he’d be a really top midfielder.

Lallana (6) - Unlucky not to score with the header that was cleared off the line but doesn’t seem quite on the same wavelength as the rest of the team at times. This is understandable given the length of time he’s been out injured so I don’t want to be too critical of him as very few players come back from a long injury and straight into top form but I can’t help but feel that Lallana has run his race for us and expect he’ll move on in the summer.

Salah (7.5) - Scored highly due to game changing contributions, rather than good all round performance. Has looked a lot more dangerous in recent weeks although he really is embarrassingly easy to disposess at times. Crucially though, a goal and two assists, the second of which was a lovely ball to Mane. If only he could pass like that more consistently.

Firmino (6.5) - Didn’t really come off for Bobby yesterday although showed a breathtaking bit of skill when he nutmegged the Cardiff player, with a back heel while on the ground. Outrageous bit of Brazilian magic and had some good interplay at times but overall not his finest display.

Mane (7.5) - Like Salah, Mane is scoring highly due to his two goals rather than all round game. Most of what he tried didn’t come off and was guilty of lingering too long on the ball again a couple of times but showed great persistence and a great strike in his first goal and a lovely run and dinked finish for his second.

Subs:

Shaqiri (8) - Couldn’t believe Lallana was preferred to Shaq after his midweek brilliance but Klopp said it was after playing consecutive 90 minutes on international duty which is probably fair enough. Transformed our attack when he came on. Scored a beautifully taken goal and the quality in his passing is what our team is screaming out for. One pass he played down the line for Salah was particularly excellent.

Milner (6) - Huffs and puffs like no other.

So job done and fairly emphatically by the end but I’m not going to lie, when Cardiff scored I was a bit nervous. This game should have been over by halftime given our dominance but once again, when Shaqiri isn’t playing, the lack of a final ball in this team is painfully obvious at times.

Moving forward, Shaqiri has to start in most games for me. We look a totally different animal when he’s on the pitch and he looks by far our most accomplished attacker at the moment and if we need to play 4-2-3-1 instead of our usual 4-3-3 to accommodate him and Fabinho then I’m all for it. We’ve looked far more balanced and threatening when playing that way this season so it makes sense to me to continue in that manner for now.

Anyway, it was a must win game and we came up with the goods in the end. Top of the league with 26 points out of a possible 30 is an excellent return in anyone’s book. With signs our front three are coming back into form and City about to come into a tougher run of fixtures, let’s just hope everything is about to click at the right time. Meantime, let’s hope Spurs do us a favour tomorrow night. Walk on.
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