Player ratings: Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool

Salah-claps-our-fans
Is this what the future looks like? I think yesterday we saw properly for the first time, Jurgen’s vision for our more controlled approach. This was arguably our best performance of the season as we dispatched Bournemouth with minimal fuss. Let’s see how our boys fared individually.

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Alisson (8) - Another commanding performance between the sticks. A couple of nervy moments with his distribution but I don’t think any question marks remain over whether Alisson is a top goalkeeper or not. Another couple of good saves and that header he won was a moment to savour.

Milner (7.5) - Milner plays different positions as if he’s played them all his life. Switched effortlessly to right back and put in the kind of solid display we’ve simply come to expect from him. I remember certain people (who shall remain nameless) utterly berating the club for the signing of James Milner but I think it would be disingenuous to suggest Milner has been anything other than one of our most important players since he signed and I would hope he’ll be rewarded with a contract extension. Arguably the finest example of a professional that the Premier League has ever seen.

Matip (8) - Many were nervous about Matip’s return to the team but personally, I think Matip gets a bit of a raw deal from the fan base. Matip’s Liverpool career has been blighted by injuries which has prevented him from ever building up any rhythm or establishing a settled partnership. I thought he was very good yesterday, he made some vital interceptions and he brings the ball out from defence superbly. I also thought he seemed to have bulked up a little and if he could add a little more physicality to his game, he’s arguably the perfect partner for Van Dijk. On yesterday’s showing, he’s certainly worthy of his place in the squad.

Van Dijk (9) - I’ve just come to expect consistent excellence from Van Dijk and he rarely disappoints.  He effortlessly tailors his own game to suit whoever he’s partnering and his constant talking and organising is what our defence has been missing since Carragher retired. He, alongside Alisson, has brought an imposing authority to this defence which is now hungry for clean sheets. For me, there is no doubt at this moment in time, that Van Dijk is the best in the business.

Robertson (9) - Speaking of the best in the business, in all seriousness, is there a better left back out there right now than our very own flying Scotsman? Carved out another assist for himself yesterday with his trademark whipped in crosses which cause teams problems week in week out. What really makes him stand out though is his work rate and desire. At 4-0 up, he was still pressing like a demon. Pressed a Bournemouth player half the length of the pitch, causing him to concede a throw in his own half. A manager’s dream.

Fabinho (7.5) - Quietly efficient. Is growing into this team and starting to make his mark. Helped control the midfield and brings an added steel and security. Attempted one of the worst shots I’ve ever seen, as our trend for signing ‘un-Brazilian’ Brazilian’s (Lucas?) continues but he’s starting to look like a £40 million midfielder.

Wijnaldum (7.5) - Another solid display from Gini who alongside Fabinho, went quietly about his business doing all the dirty work in midfield. Gini is a very unselfish player and his positional versatility is a real asset to the the squad. Should have done better with a headed chance that came his way but overall, another good game for one of our most consistent players.

Keita (7) - Started well and showed some great close control. That double nutmeg at the start of the game was a thing of beauty. Faded a bit as the game wore on, playing in a relatively unfamiliar position. I’m starting to get excited by Keita now though. When he picked up that hamstring injury, I said at the time that I thought that could have been a blessing in disguise. He’s reported to be a shy lad and he was struggling prior to the injury. I hoped that spell on the sidelines would give him a chance to settle in, outwith the spotlight and start to feel more comfortable with his surroundings and team mates. That looks to have happened and I can’t wait to see more of him.

Shaqiri (8) - Once again, Shaqiri was heavily involved in our attacking play. He has the most quality on the ball of any of our attackers and is never afraid to try a difficult pass, which is where we’ve let ourselves down often this season in his absence. Doesn’t seem to complete the 90 minutes very often, whether that is down to fitness or more likely, Jurgen sacrificing his creativity for more control in the second half of games. That’s fine as usually, he’s made a telling contribution by the time he goes off.

Firmino (8) - Much more like it from Bobby. Got himself a couple of assists and linked up well with Salah all day. Pressed well as always and was a nuisance to Bournemouth all day. The rest midweek seems to have done him good.

Salah (10) - I was starting to feel the frequent frustration with Salah at the start of the game as he constantly surrendered posession and pass after pass went astray and then suddenly BOOM! Last season’s Salah appeared and bagged himself a hat trick. A bit of good fortune with the first as he was offside but showed great desire to stay on his feet for his second, after a nasty scrape down his Achilles as he was bearing down on Bournemouth’s goal. It seemed to spur him on and make him more determined to score though and his third was just class. I did notice he didn’t smile once in any of his goal celebrations though. I thought that was a bit strange.

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Subs:

Mane (7) - Looked lively when he came on and I’m sure Bournemouth hearts sank when they saw him getting stripped and he tormented Bournemouth as we completely dominated in the latter stages.

Lallana (8) - It’s easy to dismiss and criticise Lallana and not without reason but credit where it’s due, he’s full of commitment and desire and when you need a midfielder full of running, who retains possession well, there are few better than Lallana. Took a sore bump to the head which left him a bloody mess but showed great vision and skill to release Salah for his third. Made a difference when he came on.

Hendo (N/A) - Not really on long enough and the game was already over so difficult to score Hendo. Helped retain control in midfield.

Klopp-watch (10) - Difficult to score Jurgen any less than a ten in a weekend where we swatted aside our opposition and overtook an absolute juggernaut of a team to top spot in the process.

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Summary:

In summary then, I think this weekend could be the turning point where Jurgen’s vision for his new style of play, starts to come to fruition. We looked both dominant in defence and midfield, restricting Bournemouth to half chances, whilst looking dangerous in attack. Yesterday, for one of the first times this season, we looked like a title winning team. We were simply better than Bournemouth in every area of the pitch and the result never felt in doubt.

With Salah, Mane and Firmino starting to look back to their best and the new signings all now starting to make an impression, we could be about to hit top form at just the right time. There could have been no better game for our confidence ahead of our make or break clash with Napoli and the busy festive period is where titles are often won or lost. With the injuries racking up for City and us seeming to be about to hit top form, could it even be possible to develop a small lead over City in the coming weeks?

Perhaps that’s wishful thinking but our best ever start to a Premier League campaign has finally been rewarded with top spot and it makes for splendid viewing. No time to stop for admiration however as we have another massive European match to look forward to midweek and then the small matter of United after that. God I love this time of the season. Walk on.
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