Player ratings: Liverpool 2-1 Spurs

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It’s official. Being a Liverpool fan is bad for your health. Anyone with heart problems or high blood pressure should not be allowed within a mile of Anfield. On the other hand, if ever there was a goal to make you think ‘This might just be our year’ then this, along with Origi’s late winner at Everton, would be it. Anyway, let’s take a look at how the lads fared at individual level.

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Alisson (5) - Ok, what was that? Absolutely all over the place in the first half and it was 0-0 at half time despite Alisson, not in any way because of him. He needs to just stick to the basics more as he almost got us in trouble on a number of occasions, as he’s always trying to be too clever. One to forget for him.

TAA (7) - For the first half hour, our fullbacks ran riot and Trent’s influence on this team continues to grow. His delivery was typical Trent this season - brilliant one minute, not so much the next. His game intelligence and composure improve game by game however and he’s now a nailed on starter when fit. Made a brilliant recovery tackle on Lucas Moura in the first half, after a Matip slip had let Spurs in.

Matip (7) - The aforementioned slip aside, another solid display from Matip as our defence mostly limited Spurs to shots from outside the box. Has now clearly usurped Lovren in the pecking order and given Gomez injury problems, I expect Matip to partner Van Dijk until the end of the season, fitness allowing.

Van Dijk (9) - Showed world class composure and decision making when Sissoko and Son were two versus one against him. Narrowed the angle brilliantly, forcing Sissoko to shoot on his left foot. Also dealt brilliantly with the threat of Harry Claim, as the England forward got no change out of Virgil and the sight of our number four effortlessly easing Claim off the ball a couple of times, was a joy to behold. Was limping late on, let’s all pray to Fowler that it’s nothing serious.

Robertson (8.5) - Absolutely destroyed Spurs in the first half and grabbed himself another assist with a trademark, excellent cross for Firmino’s opener. There hasn’t been a fullback that influences games as much as Robbo since Dani Alves. He was a relentless attacking threat and defensively, he limited Spurs to very little attacking threat from our left and made a goal saving block from Eriksen, after Alisson parried the ball back into a dangerous area.

Henderson (5.5) - Gave the ball away again and again, conceded a cheap (if soft) free kick that led to Spurs goal and there was a moment when Firmino tee’d up Hendo in a good shooting position and I was shaking my head before he hit it. Safe to say, you know the outcome. It’s about time Klopp realises Fabinho is a superior player and starts trusting him from the start in the big games.

Milner (6) - Once again, I could pretty much copy/paste Milner and Gini as all they really did was close down space and harass the opposition. Was typically committed and worked hard, with the odd decent bit of good link up play in the first half but was once a again part of a functional midfield.

Wijnaldum (6) - Frustratingly slowed our attacking play down in the first half but when we changed formation in the second half, he stared making more forward runs and trying to influence things more. Not to any great effect however. As our most technically gifted midfielder, we need more from him in an attacking sense.

Salah (6.5) - Ok, some might think this a little harsh but I thought once again, Salah’s desperation to score, was  to the detriment of the team. Again he should have played in Mane for a one on one with the keeper but opted to go himself, his finishing was terrible again and yes, granted it was Salah’s header that led to the own goal but ask yourself this... Was it really the right decision to go for goal there? No. Their goalkeeper made an absolute mess of it, leading to them scoring an own goal but he should have been trying to head that across goal and got extremely lucky with the outcome. I really wish the ball would break to Salah for a tap in so he could get this scoring drought over with and start playing his natural game again.

Firmino (7.5)  - Got himself on the score sheet with a fine header and played some really nice passes, particularly in the first half. Showed his usual work rate and endeavour, although faded a bit second half. All in all though, Bobby can be satisfied with his performance.

Mane (7) - His scoring streak came to an end but he still looked dangerous throughout and the positions he took up in the first half, left Trippier unsure whether to stick or twist and that allowed Robbo the space to run riot. Mane’s tactical awareness is underrated but he and Salah are both very good at taking up those spaces that leave defenders unsure of where they should be. Mane’s found a new level to his game in recent weeks, hopefully it’s permanent.

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Subs:

Fabinho (7) - Made an instant impact as he immediately started winning the ball back and getting us on the front foot in one fluid motion, instead of slowing the play down with too many touches, or slow ponderous passing. Should have started the game.

Origi (6) - Put himself about and definitely brings something different to the table, with his size, power and pace. It will be interesting to see if his recent game time is because Klopp thinks he might have a future with us, or if it’s to put him in the shop window and try and increase his value. The cynic in me suspects the latter.

Lovren (N/A) - Still exists.

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Klopp-watch (7) - Klopp’s score changed multiple times throughout the game. After thirty minutes, I was gushing about him, after 70 minutes, I was raving at him and by the end I was just grinning and glowing with man love for him as he celebrated with the Kop. Got his tactics spot on in the first part of the game but was slow to react in the second half, as the game was getting away from us, I thought.

Summary:

Once again, an absolutely agonising watch. We completely dominated the opening half hour and should have been at least 2-0 up going into half time. We’ve had trouble putting teams away this season though and so it continued today.

When I saw that midfield, I groaned but when Spurs played into our hands with their formation and were being utterly destroyed by our fullbacks, my mind was taken back to what Ilija was saying, about how we create more through our fullbacks than our midfield and for thirty minutes, it made perfect sense as Robbo and Trent ran riot... The trouble is, once the opposition manager figures out the danger and changes formation to stifle the threat of our fullbacks, what then? Not much is the answer.

Spurs twice changed formation to try and deal with the threat of Robbo and Trent and once they succeeded, they started to boss the game and I must admit, as the second half wore on, I felt if any team were likely to score, it would be Spurs. We couldn’t even argue that the midfield we’d put out were offering us defensive stability because they weren’t. They were sloppy in possession and created their own problems on multiple occasions.

Ultimately, I don’t really know what to think about our title chances right now but isn’t that just the Liverpool way? In any title win, you can point back to pivotal moments. In our Champions League win of 2005, Gerrard’s goal against Olympiakos and Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ against Chelsea are almost as well remembered as the infamous final itself and if we do ultimately win the league this year, we will undoubtedly point to Mahrez missed penalty at Anfield, Origi’s injury time derby winner and Alderweireld’s own goal as pivotal moments in the title race.

Anyway, on to Southampton on Friday and the chance to put the pressure back on City. Say lads, how about just giving Southampton a spanking eh? I don’t think my nerves can take many more of these displays... Still, top of the league. Walk on troops.

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