Player ratings: Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United

We are a significantly better team than Manchester United. Just let that sink in for a moment. We’re not only better than them, we're streets ahead of them. I’m struggling to remember a more one sided contest between the two teams and a couple of nervy moments aside, we completely dominated them. Let’s see how our boys scored...

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Alisson (5) - Known to be a huge fan of The LiverBirdNest, Alisson clearly let the 10 I scored him after the Napoli game go to his head, so after a mistake straight out of the Loris Karius goalkeeping handbook, there’s a big fat 5 for your troubles Becker and let that be a lesson to you! In all seriousness, I wouldn’t swap Alisson for anyone and we all make mistakes but for the purposes of scoring on an individual basis, that could have been an extremely costly mistake and threatened to derail our game for a period, at a time when we were really turning the screw. Fortunately, so far when Alisson has made the odd mistake, it hasn’t proved costly.

Clyne (7) - There was no shortage of worried fans (myself included) when Clyne was named on the teamsheet but full credit to the lad, after barely kicking a ball in 18 months, he came into a huge game and delivered a solid display for the entire 90 minutes. Clyne has always been a solid defender, it’s in the final third he’s generally found wanting but he got forward at every opportunity yesterday and a display like that served Klopp and the fan base a timely reminder of his skill set, just when we needed him to. Showed all his experience and what an excellent professional he is to complete such an intense game after so long out.

Lovren (7) - Fairly solid display from Dejan throughout, couple of dodgy passes aside when playing out from the back. Should have scored as well, when the ball fell kindly to him four yards from goal. In his primary role however, assisted Van Dijk in nullifying United’s attack for the most part although I did think he let Lukaku get the cross in too easily in the build up to their goal. Anyway, The sight of Lovren’s name on the teamsheet no longer makes the fan base nervous and next to Van Dijk, he is proving to be a very capable CB.

Van Dijk (9) - I’m running out of superlatives for Virgil, he delivers consistent excellence week in, week out. Absolutely owned Lukaku yesterday for the entire game, the big Belgian never got a sniff. He’s an absolute dream of a CB and we'll badly miss him against Bayern.

Robertson (8) - Another fine display from Robbo, all that was missing was his usually reliable final ball. Took some terrible corners, leading the lad himself to take to social media to acknowledge he requires more practice in that department. From open play though, he completely dominated his side of the pitch. He was excellent defensively, including a goal saving interception of a cross at the back post. Going forward, Dalot couldn’t deal with him in the first half and was walking a tightrope having been booked. It was no surprise to see him go off at halftime but once he went off, there was nobody picking up Robbo in the second half and he rampaged forward into their half again and again, prompting Mourinho to say in his post match presser that he was “tired just to look at this kid”. Only his usual assist missing from yesterday’s display.

Fabinho (9) - Man of the match for me (even if a certain potato shaped attacker might have a higher score). Fabinho is growing into this team with every performance but I feel like yesterday was a turning point display from him. He completely dominated the midfield from start to finish. He wins the ball back superbly but what I love about him is that when he wins the ball back he passes it FORWARD!!! Hallelujah, it can be done, I bloody well knew it! Grabbed himself an excellent assist for the opener and was a general nightmare for United all day. Snuffed out any attacks they tried to build through midfield and showed great game intelligence and passing range throughout. Looks a real player.

Wijnaldum (7.5) - Another really solid display from Gini. I really like the combination of Gini and Fabinho, they bring a brilliant balance of workrate, physicality and technique. Gini won back posession well and I believe he’s the most difficult member of our squad to disposess. United’s midfield couldn’t live with Gini and Fabinho and they bullied them throughout.

Keita (6) - We're still only seeing flashes of Keita, as he drifts in and out of games. I do think he’s wasted out on the left and would be better deployed through the middle, which isn’t helping him but his final ball yesterday was really poor. I lost count of how many of his passes he hit straight at United players yesterday. Also looked absolutely exhausted when substituted so perhaps he isn’t quite up to speed with the intensity of the Premier League yet. He needs to start having a bigger impact in games though, as there’s stiff competition for places in that midfield and every game from here on in is massive. No room for passengers.

Mane (8) - Mane was due a goal, having missed a number of sitters recently and he duly obliged with an excellently taken opener, from Fabinho’s pass. Lively throughout and it was his brilliant run into the box that led to Shaqiri’s first. Looks to be getting back to his best.

Firmino (8) - Like Mane, Bobby has been much improved in recent weeks and yesterday he looked like the Bobby we all know and love. Dazzling footwork and relentless workrate, he tormented United all day. Hopefully he’ll start adding to his goal tally in the coming weeks. As with Sadio however, looks to be getting back to his best at just the right time.

Salah (7) - Lively and put in a shift but one of those days for Salah where nothing really came off. That may have something to do with the fact every time he received the ball, panic spread through the United defence and they all scrambled to suffocate him. This all leaves space for others to exploit however and such is Salah’s current aura, simply his presence on the pitch is enough to open the game up for our other attackers.

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Shaqiri (10) - Came on with twenty minutes to go and not only scored the winner but one to make it comfortable as well. Cameos don’t come much better than that. He has a knack for breaking United hearts, remember that overhead kick in preseason? More excellent stuff from our latest bargain of the season. Lots more to come from Shaq this season.

Hendo (N/A) - Not on long enough to properly score him. Helped retain posession and see the game out in the dying stages.

Klopp-watch (9) - The only criticism I would have is Keita on the left. I don’t think it works for him there, the only position I see for him in that formation is as one of the double pivot. I said before the game that if we went for the throat, they would crumble and I think if Shaqiri had started yesterday, it would have been over by halftime. This is purely speculation of course and only my opinion.


In my summary this week, I want to take a look at United first as a comparison to ourselves.

United are a club without a plan, from top to bottom it is so obvious that there is no clear plan or strategy but it’s not through the lack of spending. They’ve spent huge sums on the likes of Di Maria, Pogba, Fred, Martial, to name but a few. They’re rumoured to be paying Sanchez 500k a week and they went out and got the manager with the most consistent winning record that was available. He’s also commanding the highest salary apart from Guardiola.

None of it has worked. Why? Because there is no plan. Its all reactionary. Buy a big name player, get a big name manager, flex our financial muscle with wages... but it’s all useless without a clear footballing strategy and everybody pulling in the same direction, both on and off the pitch.

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Compare that to ourselves. Say what you like about FSG but they’ve got us to a place where we can compete with anyone in the transfer market and they got in the best manager they could that (and here’s the important bit) suited their football strategy and what they wanted to do and they’ve backed him to the hilt.

The glaring difference when you look at our big money transitions in recent windows compared to United’s is the plan for ours were obvious. Glaring weakness at CB so we broke the world record to sign the best CB we could get. Glaring weakness between the sticks so we (briefly) broke the world record to get the best goalkeeper we could get. Fabinho, Keita, everyone can see where they fit into the plan and that translates directly on to the pitch but it starts with the owners, scouts, transfer money-men and manager all being on the same page.

The two performances yesterday epitomised the current state of the two clubs. We had a plan and everybody in the team knows it, has fully bought into it and is delivering it with 100% commitment. If United did have a plan, they never got the chance to execute it as we completely dominated them from start to finish. Like their club as a whole, everything they did was reactionary to what we did, without ever really imposing their own will on the game.

On yesterday’s showing, there is a gulf in class between the two teams but it goes deeper than that. As a club we are leaving them behind. It’s a brilliant time to be a Liverpool fan. Walk on troops.
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