Player ratings: Liverpool 2(5) - (4)2 Chelsea

Henderson-and-Adrian-celebrate
The first piece of silverware in the cabinet this season then and I’m sure we all agreed before the match that the Super Cup is every bit as important as the league and Champions League this season. Let’s see how our cup winners got on.

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Adrian (7) - A real mixed bag for Adrian last night, as he went from penalty villain to penalty hero. I thought the penalty he conceded was very soft, if there was any contact at all, it was minimal. Bit of poetic justice that Tammy Abraham who won (conned) the penalty in the 90 minutes, was the Chelsea player to miss in the shootout, thus handing us the trophy. Adrian didn’t have much to do with saving that however, terrible penalty. Overall, a decent game but seems I’m cursed to be infuriated by our goalkeeper at least once a game, as he parried out a very tame cross, straight back out into our penalty area when it probably would have been easier to catch it. I guess that’s the modern goalie though. Sigh...

Gomez (6) - He’s not quite up to speed yet, Joe. It’s understandable given how long he was out but our game is suffering for it a bit and especially when he plays fullback. Given a bit of a torrid time by Pulisic in the first half and got out of jail when the aforementioned Pulisic had a goal chalked off for offside. Joe had lost him however and been left for dead. Gomez should have been integrated back into the team slowly in my opinion, instead of starting the first three games on the bounce.

Matip (8) - Passing uncharacteristically sloppy at times but defensively, he was absolutely immense. Completely owned Pulisic on a number of occasions and made a number of excellent challenges throughout the game. Seems to have picked right up where he left off last season, form wise. Should have started our previous two games as well in my opinion. On current form, there can be no doubt who our best CB pairing is.

Van Dijk (8) - Delivered his usual brand of excellence for the most part and was denied what looked a definite goal by an unbelievable save from Kepa. Some of his long passing is absolutely sublime as well. He’s not happy at the moment though. I’ve rarely, if ever, seen him so animated during games and understandably so. Our offside traps have been ragged at best this season and teams are getting in behind us far too often and far too easily. We look like we need to spend some time on the training field, refreshing our defensive drills.

Robertson (7.5) - Limited in opportunities to attack but was defensively excellent. The highlight was when he brilliantly tracked the run and then dealt easily with Pedro, when the Spaniard looked to be clean through on goal. Won all his personal duels all night, as did our two CB’s, which is just as well, as Chelsea were running riot in the first half.

Fabinho (6) - Our whole midfield struggled badly last night, especially in the first half and Fabinho was no different. Couldn’t influence the game at all in the first half as Chelsea got beyond our midfield again and again. Improved second half and recovered from cramp to calmly slot home our second penalty in the shootout.

Henderson (7) - Looked the most likely of our midfield to produce something, although that’s not setting the bar particularly high. The problem Hendo had last night was that in the absence of Trent’s attacking threat from out wide, Hendo kept getting drawn out there to try and provide that attacking width. He lacks the pace and crossing consistency to truly be a threat out wide however and in turn it left gaps in the middle of the pitch. One accusation you could never level at Hendo though is lack of effort and commitment and I’m glad to see him get his hands on another trophy.

Milner (6) - Huffed and puffed as always but looked a yard off the pace last night. His first start of the season so hopefully that’s all it is but badly struggled against Chelsea, especially in the first half. The game was crying out for someone in our midfield to put their foot on the ball and regain some control but it never happened. A performance to forget for James.

Salah (7) - Fairly isolated in the first half as we couldn’t get the ball to our attackers for the most part. Much livelier second half but still frustratingly wasteful in possession, particularly his passing. Shouldn’t get anywhere near our free kicks either. Showed nerves of steel to smash home the fifth and winning penalty however.

Mane (8.5) - Couldn’t get involved in the game playing up front in the first half. Burst into life second half however, scoring both of our goals and causing Chelsea no end of problems once he’d switched back to his usual position. I’m really excited about Mane’s season ahead, his game went up a level in the second half of last season and he really does look top drawer now. Looked gutted when Klopp took him off. Obviously had eyes on a hat trick but given his importance to the team, I can understand why Jurgen made the decision.

Ox (6) - Isolated as all our forwards were in the first half were and one really nice pass to Salah aside, he was fairly anonymous out on the left. Klopp probably didn’t do him any favours playing him out there, in his first start in god knows how long though. Subbed at halftime.

Subs:

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Firmino (9) - He may have only come on at halftime but there’s no doubt for me who the man of the match was. Bobby completely changed the game when he came on. Instantly too as he registered an assist within two minutes of being in the pitch, with a kung fu kick cushioned pass to Mane. Chelsea just couldn’t handle him and he continued to run riot before notching another assist with an excellent pull back, which Mane promptly smashed home. Demonstrated once more how important he is to the way we play and his absence in the first half was worryingly apparent.

Wijnaldum (6) - Ran around a bit, struggled to get involved.

TAA (6) - Provided us with that attacking threat out wide but was lucky Tammy Abraham put his shot wide from six yards out, after letting the Chelsea player come across him and get on the end of a Pedro cross. Defensive frailties still evident. Scored his penalty, although Kepa will probably be annoyed with himself he didn’t save it. Shootout was good experience for him though.

Origi (6) - Looked lively when he came on and caused Chelsea some problems on the left. Scored his penalty - only just right enough but all that matters is it goes in.

Klopp-watch (6) - Ok so I know we won the game but I thought Klopp got his starting eleven badly wrong last night. If he was going to rest Firmino, why not play Origi and if you want to give Ox some minutes, start him in midfield where we badly needed someone to offer more than just basic industry. Mane up front as well, why not Salah up front? He’s played there far more frequently than Mane, who has only played the position once in the past for us that I can recollect. We badly miss Mane’s invention from the wide areas when he isn’t playing there. Also, why is Joe Gomez starting every game? Especially as he’s not playing particularly well. Thankfully Jurgen made the necessary changes at halftime and we won the game in the end but there was a lot wrong with that starting eleven in my opinion.

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Summary:

So we won the game but there is plenty cause for concern in my opinion as Chelsea were the better team for large parts of the game. People keep saying we look frail defensively which we do but I think a lot of it is more down to our midfield than our defenders. If you look at our defenders individual performances last night, Matip, Van Dijk and Robbo were all really good defensively. In fact, had they not been so good, we’d have been soundly beaten.

This brings me back to our midfield and something of a sense of Deja-Vu from last season. We are absolutely screaming out for a ball playing midfielder. Our defenders kept looking up for a pass in the first half and finding zero options, forcing us to surrender possession again and again. When we did get the ball into our midfielders, they couldn’t string three passes together and we were overrun the entire first half. People mock Lallana but at least he can take the ball under pressure and retain possession with minimal fuss. Last night's midfield was all industry and no guile. Really hope Keita or Ox can step up this season because last night once again demonstrated how reliant we are on our front three being fit and firing.

Anyway, enough negativity, we won the bloody thing at the end of the day and it will be a good boost to team morale, especially after missing out on the Charity Shield. I know these games aren’t viewed with the utmost importance but as Shaun mentioned on the match thread last night, it’s about making a habit of winning. The fact we won the Champions League last year, we’ve all forgotten that we’ve consistently lost finals throughout the Klopp era. This team is still more used to being the bridesmaid and last night is another step towards vanquishing that. There was a trophy at stake and we won it.

Anyway, back to the grind at the weekend as we take on Southampton in what will be another much changed lineup I would think, after last night’s exertions. Another three points is vital however so we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball on Saturday. Hopefully the bit of ring rust we’ve seen in the last couple of games will start to shake off and we can get back to steam rolling teams, starting with Southampton this weekend.

That’s it for this ratings thread then troops, onwards and Kloppwards. Walk on.
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