Player ratings: Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth

Gini-scoring-vs-Bournemouth
Boom! We’re back! After two fairly torrid, nervy displays that allowed City to overtake us in the league, the pressure was really on for us to get back to winning ways against Bournemouth but we also badly needed a good performance to quieten the doubters and help restore some dented confidence. The boys answered the call and then some. Let’s see how they got on.

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Alisson (7.5) - A fairly quiet afternoon for Alisson but dealt comfortably with everything that came his way. Made a comfortable early save from Fraser. It was a save I’d expect him to make but it was vital as if Bournemouth had scored in the first five minutes, the mood around Anfield would have changed very quickly. Made a really good save late on as a fiercely struck shot was heading into the top corner at his near post. Palmed it away as if it was nothing though. All in all, a solid display.

Milner (8) - Who said Milner wasn’t a right back? He gave the Bournemouth fullback a torrid afternoon with his link up play with Salah and helped himself to another assist for Mane’s all important opener. Was heavily involved from start to finish and still has some engine on him for a player in his thirties. Brilliant professional.

Matip (8.5) - I thought Matip was superb yesterday. Rock solid defensively but some of his forward play really was excellent as well. Brings the ball out from the back so well and could have had a contender for assist of the season with a sublime ball to Firmino, who unfortunately couldn’t control it. I’ve always preferred Matip to Lovren and when he plays alongside Van Dijk, it gives us both real height in the heart of our defence but also two very technically skilled CB’s. Taking up a position slightly ahead of Virgil, allows him to get more involved in the build up and bringing the ball out from defence and as he showed yesterday, he’s very good at it.

Van Dijk (8) - Kept a clean sheet without getting out of second gear. Imperious in the air as always and the rest of the time just sauntered around. Played some nice forward passes and should have got on the score-sheet near the end of the game when, after running the length of the pitch, Firmino really should have rolled the ball to him for a tap in. Class act.

Robertson (8.5) - This was the Robbo we all know and love. Covered every blade of grass on the left side of the pitch, grabbed himself another assist and could have had more but it was defensively he really impressed me yesterday, with two tackles he made in the first half. Due to his marauding nature, Robbo’s defensive abilities are often overlooked but the timing of his tackling really is impeccable. He’s only committed nine fouls all season. That is pretty unbelievable for a defender and it’s not like he shirks a challenge. Two perfectly timed tackles in our box yesterday were great examples of his timing and technique and after years of watching Moreno flying into challenges from all angles, it’s so refreshing to see someone who actually knows what they’re doing. Another excellent display from the League’s (universe’s?) best left back.

Fabinho (8.5) - Brilliant display from Fabinho, who should now be one of the first names on the team sheet. Played the progressive forward passing that I’ve been calling for all season and what a difference it made. This was arguably his best performance to date and it was really pleasing to see him perform so well in a midfield three, where he has previously struggled. He was strong in the tackle, broke up Bournemouth’s attacks before they built up any steam but it was his forward passing that really stood out yesterday. Fabinho is starting to look a real player.

Wijnaldum (9) - This player rating is dedicated to Timp... I knew he had it in him. If you look back through previous player ratings, I almost write the same thing about Gini after every game. Neat and tidy etc but with his level of skill and technique, he should be doing more in an attacking sense. Well yesterday, THAT Gini arrived. Scored an absolutely sublime lob that any striker would have been proud of and could have had more, as well as a couple of assists. He was everywhere yesterday, doing all his usual midfield dirty work (yes Timp) but also heavily involved in our attacking play and Bournemouth couldn’t handle him. Didn’t let the fact Jurgen told the world he had the runs affect him and considering he had been unwell, delivered arguably his finest display to date in a Liverpool shirt. Lucky new beard maybe?

Keita (8) - Finally! The Keita we thought we were signing arrived, as he put in by far his best display since the opening day of the season at West Ham. Played a sublime pass to Firmino in the build up to the third goal and all round game much improved. Looked a lot more confident than he has in previous outings as well. Let’s hope he kicks on from here.

Salah (8.5) - When Salah plays like he did yesterday, he’s a nightmare for any team. It makes it all the more frustrating watching his last couple of displays when you know he’s got this in his locker. Scored the third after some lovely build up play but looked threatening throughout with his running at defenders and link up play. Unlucky not to score more. 49 Premier League goals now and well on his way to breaking Torres record of fastest player to 50 league goals for the club.

Firmino (8) - Back playing up front and delivered a performance full of skill and swagger. Produced a lovely back-heeled assist for Salah’s goal but played a number of really well executed passes throughout, including a lovely through ball to release Gini, who should really have done better with his attempted assist to Salah. Much more like it from Bobby, although he should have played in Van Dijk for a tap in, after a late counter attack. I can understand him going for goal in the circumstances but it showed his Achilles heel as an out and out forward, in as much as he’s far from a clinical finisher. In terms of all round game however, there are few better.

Mane (8) - I said in the last player ratings that Mane is a streaky player and his hot streak in front of goal continued, as he scored for the fourth consecutive game, for the first time in his Liverpool career. Fortune favoured him again, as it always seems to when you’re playing well, in as much as he was probably offside again but it was a close call and he took his header brilliantly, for a nerve settling opener. Probed and tormented Bournemouth all afternoon. If Mane could just add a little more consistency to his game and deliver his recent performances week in, week out, he could truly be considered in the world class bracket.

Subs:

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TAA (6) - Great to see Trent make his return from injury and he could even have made it a goal scoring return, after finding himself in a good position. Still has strapping on his knee though so I’m glad we have a break to allow him, amongst others, more recovery time.

Origi (N/A) - Ran around a bit.

Sturridge (N/A) - Didn’t run around a bit.

Klopp-watch (10) - I’ll go more into tactics in my summary but one thing I want to highlight is Klopp’s man management. One of the hardest things for a manager is keeping all the players both on board with the plan and confident enough to implement it. After two really nervy displays, we were back with a bang and a swagger yesterday and all credit goes to the manager for keeping the player’s chins up and believing in themselves. You can really see the influence he has over this squad.

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Summary:

Last season, we had one of the most recognisable styles of play of any team in the world but there have been many times this season that we haven’t played with that same identity. I honestly don’t believe the same tactics were employed against West Ham and Leicester. It couldn’t just be a case of the players having an off night. Instead, we switched to last season’s formation and style, went for the jugular and Bournemouth simply couldn’t live with us.

The biggest difference between yesterday and our recent lacklustre displays, undoubtedly came in our midfield. I’ve been calling for progressive, forward passing all season, instead of the relentless backwards and sideways and the difference to our play was immeasurable.

Fabinho was the best at it but all our midfielders were in on it. All playing with their heads up, looking forward all the time. Keita was picking the ball up and moving forward, Gini was heavily involved in our attacks and as a consequence of this, it provides much more space and opportunities for our front three to exploit, instead of just waiting for one of them to conjure something up.

I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that Keita’s two best games for us, have come when playing this way. He was signed to play number 8 in this style of team and when we’ve played that way, he’s excelled. The fact Fabinho also excelled in that style of play, gives me hope we will see more of it from here on out. I could never understand why we seemed to have completely abandoned it for large parts of the season, as we were so close to success last season playing that way and now we’ve shored up the defence and goalkeeping position, we should be near unstoppable if we play to our strengths and that is high octane, high pressing, high scoring. It was also good to see us looking dangerous on the counter attack again too, something which has been lacking from our game recently.

Anyway, a superb day at the office and a badly needed performance and more importantly, result. With City dismantling Chelsea today, you really get the feeling that there’s no more room for slip ups. The title is still ours to lose however and with a break until our next game, our squad should be in better health by the time our next fixture comes around. Let’s hope the previous two games were our blip this season and we’ll kick on now and win the damn thing. Onwards and Kloppwards. YNWA
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