Player ratings: Liverpool 1-0 Napoli

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What a performance. Like many, I was nervous last night but there was no need in the end as we produced as dominant and mature a display as any in recent Liverpool memory. Let’s take a look at how the lads scored on the night.

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Alisson (10) -That save! Alisson was a virtual spectator for most of the evening and then in the dying seconds, he pulls a wonder save straight out of the top drawer. I normally wouldn’t score him a 10 on the basis of one amazing moment but without that moment, we would be out of the Champions League. That save will also have gone a fair way to covering his transfer fee, such are the financial implications of qualifying for the knockout stages. Signing Alisson was the best bit of business the club has done since... well, since Van Dijk but still, great signing who’s impact grows with each passing game.

TAA (8) - Really good display from Trent who’s maturity and skill in games continues to impress. Never overawed by the occasion, his stature in the team grows all the time. Defended well and got forward at every opportunity. Along with Salah, gave the Napoli left back a torrid night of it.

Matip (8) - Another rock solid display from Matip who has been excellent since he returned to the team. Made a number of timely interventions and brings the ball out superbly from the back. I think the Van Dijk effect is showing us that we have a lot of good defenders, we just needed someone to organise the defence.

Van Dijk (9) - Another imperious performance from Van Dijk, who should undoubtedly be club captain in my opinion. Intercepted everything all night and was a huge factor in Napoli’s feared attackers barely getting a sniff all night. He also has to be credited for making those around him better. Both Lovren and Matip look infinitely better players next to Virgil than they have in any other CB pairing they’ve shared at the club. Can’t just be coincidence. Best CB in the world, I really hope we can deliver the silverware he undoubtedly deserves. Oozes class.

Robertson (8.5) - Robbo must still be wondering how he didn’t get an assist last night, such was the quality of his delivery. Laid one in particular on an absolute plate for Salah but we looked dangerous every time Robbo got on the ball last night. He marauds up and down that wing tirelessly, he must be a nightmare to play against but it’s not just his work rate, the quality of his passing and decision making really is excellent. Couple of misplaced passes aside, another superb display. I also doubt there is another left back in world football whose name is sung so frequently by their fans but such is Robbo’s impact in games, he’s so frequently recognised by the Anfield faithful.

Henderson (6) - Sigh... Oh Hendo. Salvaged his score somewhat with a much improved second half display. For me, Hendo is a decent Premier League player. He’s physical and full of running and when it comes to playing a Brighton or a Newcastle or whoever, then he can be quite effective. In Europe and against the top Premier League teams however, I always find something very obvious when watching Hendo and that is a glaring lack of technique. First touch - poor, passing - bang average, shooting - abominable, defending - decent. Unfortunately that’s not enough for a team going in the direction we are. It’s definitely not enough for our club captain.

Wijnaldum (8) - Gini was brilliant in midfield last night, pressing, winning back possssion, rotating the ball well... That’s his primary role in the team and that is what I score him on but my god, for a player who has spent the majority of his career as an attacking, goal scoring midfielder, he hasn’t half forgotten how to attack in the last couple of years. He spurned a few good attacking positions when he had plenty time to either drive into space or take a touch and play a pass or have a decent attempt. Still, this season Gini is up there with Milner in terms of midfield consistency and that can only be a good thing.

Milner (8) - Our own Mr Reliable came up with the goods again. Was all over the pitch last night, throwing himself into tackles, winning back posession and always looking to make something happen in an attacking sense, getting an assist for his troubles. Milner is a very important cog in this current Liverpool machine.

Salah (8) - Scored the goal that put us through but was frustratingly wasteful for most of the evening. Looked a threat all night however, never gave Napoli’s defence a minute. His desire and determination (along with some crazy goalkeeping) led to the all important goal however and the man for the big occasion showed up again. Why has he stopped smiling when he scores though?

Firmino (8) - A typically selfless display from Bobby who worked tirelessly all night, creating space for others and hounding the opposition. This was much more like the Bobby of last season who, even when not scoring or assisting directly, you can see his contribution to this team with his work both on and particularly off the ball.

Mane (7) - Decent display from Mane, looked lively and threatening but his finishing... last night he couldn’t hit water if he fell out a boat! I’ve always said about Mane that he flicks from the sublime to the ridiculous multiple times a game and his finishing is the same. If he could only become more consistent in that aspect of his game. Was very good defensively last night however, he closed down the spaces very intelligently.

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Subs:

Keita (6.5) - Brought some much needed legs in the second half as players started to tire. Busy defensively and we’re starting to see his comfort on the ball.

Fabinho (7) - Was good when he came on. Won possession back and helped nullify the aerial threat as Napoli resorted to lumping it up front.

Lovren (N/A) Came on as a makeshift right back. Thankfully was late in the game and he didn’t have much to do.

Klopp-watch (10) - Much like at the weekend, it’s difficult to score Klopp less than a perfect ten seeing as we sit top of the Premier League and have negotiated our way through a really tough Champions League group. Performances improving all the time too.

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Summary:

Well, it was our biggest test of the season so far, big pressure occasion, complex scoring factors and very good opposition but we passed with flying colours. I was a bit disappointed when I saw the midfield but Klopp’s plan worked perfectly and we dominated them from the first minute to the last. The only criticism I can have of last night’s performance is that it should have been far more comfortable in the end, with the chances we created.

Couple of worries on the injury front with Trent going off with a knock and Matip going to hospital with a shoulder injury but overall the feel good factor continues heading into this weekend’s encounter with United, who I’m genuinely confident we’ll run ragged this weekend.

Anyway, we now look forward to the Champions League draw. This is already turning into a memorable season. Onwards and Kloppwards, ALLEZ!
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