Player ratings: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

Trent-Alexander-Arnold
There’s little I enjoy more in life than watching Liverpool beat Chelsea, although it was a nervy second half. Nevertheless, Klopp’s men just keep finding a way to get the job done. After our first defeat of the season midweek, let’s see how our boys bounced back against Lampard’s plastic revolution.

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Adrian (8) - I’d written Adrian off a few weeks back but I’m delighted to have been proved wrong as his excellent form continues. Made a vital stop when one on one with Abraham and produced a brilliant reflex save to prevent Trent putting into his own net in the build up to their disallowed goal. The own goal ultimately wouldn’t have counted but Adrian wasn’t to know that and it was an excellent save. His handling was steady throughout and he even showed a bit of Alisson-esque distribution, when chipping the ball over the onrushing Chelsea player’s head. Has proved himself a more than able deputy for Alisson. To think he didn’t have a club a week before the season started. He’s now playing Champions league and if we win the title this season, he’ll be deserving of his medal.

TAA (8.5) I thought long and hard between Trent and Matip as my man of the match but the goal swung it for me. An absolutely brilliant strike. What I loved about it is, you don’t just strike the ball like that, that kind of shot comes from hours and hours of practicing that exact technique on the training pitch and to produce it in a massive game at Stamford Bridge, makes all the practice worthwhile. Trent now has a man’s body as well and he’s starting to physically dominate players, to complement his footballing intelligence and technical ability. The sky really is the limit for this kid.

Matip (8) - Another rock solid performance from Matip, who is now one of our most consistent players. Abraham targeted him throughout but got no change out of the Cameroonian as Matip dominated him in the air and on the ground. There was a point in the second half where he made something like four clearing headers in the space of about a minute. Some good surging runs forward and a calm head throughout. We need to get his contract situation sorted as no player in the squad has more improved in this calendar year.

Van Dijk (7) - Not quite his imperious self in recent weeks but he’s still excellent and is simply a victim of his own incredibly high standards that we notice even his most minor mistakes. Speaking of minor details however, there was a moment just prior to us taking the free kick for Bobby’s goal, where Virgil arrived in the box and being considerably bigger than all the Chelsea players, he bumped as many of them as he could while taking up position. Seconds later, a completely unmarked Firmino heads home. I just wonder if that bit of physical intimidation from Virgil seconds prior to the goal, had the Chelsea players concentrating so much on him that Bobby was left completely unmarked. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but still enjoyable to watch Virgil bully Chelsea.

Robertson (8) - Bagged himself a nice assist with one of his trademark crosses but we’re used to those. There were two other moments I want to highlight that demonstrated Robbo’s brilliance. There was a point in the first half when Kovacic showed some nice footwork to get past Trent and released Mount down our right hand side. Mount put in a decent delivery aimed at Abraham but it missed the Chelsea striker and was headed toward Willian for a tap in if Robbo didn’t deal with it. It was difficult and slightly behind him and I had images in my head of Moreno swinging his right leg at it, missing the ball and falling on his backside while Willian tapped it in but Robbo showed why he’s such a good defender - speed of thought. He read the situation, realised there were no Chelsea players there for the follow up and just let the ball bounce off the outside of his left foot, for Hendo to collect. So simple yet just what the situation required and he only had a split second to make his decision.
His other brilliant moment came right at the end when after being under the cosh for a long period, Robbo picked up the ball and summoned the energy to burst through Chelsea’s press and drive upfield. It was enough to take the pressure off in the last few seconds and get us over the line and was again, exactly what the team needed. Brilliant player. Have I mentioned he’s Scottish?

Fabinho (7) - Was well on his way to an 8 after an excellent first half where he dominated Chelsea. Brilliant moment in the build up to the free kick for the first goal, where he controls the ball and bursts through two Chelsea players before teeing up Mane, who won the free kick that would eventually lead to the goal. Won back possession countless times as we’ve come to expect but then second half, he appeared to completely run out of legs. Turned like the Titanic as Kante ran virtually unchallenged towards our goal, before scoring Chelsea’s goal. Looks like he needs a rest and I’ll be astonished if he plays any part against MK Dons

Hendo (7.5) - I’m really enjoying Hendo’s football these days. He swarmed all over Chelsea in the first half, snapping into tackles and always trying to put the team on the front foot. He was going about winding Jorginho right up as well, which I must admit I enjoyed. Struggled to have as much influence second half as Chelsea ramped up the pressure but you know what you’re getting from Hendo and hard graft is right at the top of the list. I feel Hendo has finally grown into the leader of this team. It’s telling that there’s been no captaincy debate for quite some time and it’s all coincided with him being moved back to his natural position. I strongly believe that playing number six detracted a lot from Hendo’s game and led to a lot of criticism (not least from myself) but fair play to him for taking on the role, as that was what the team needed from him at the time. It led to personal criticism and undoubtedly enjoying his football less, playing in a role he doesn’t favour. It’s a measure of the man though, that he always puts the team first and is a consummate professional about it. Hendo’s made a career out of proving people wrong and he’s done it again, myself included.

Wijnaldum (6) - He had some nice moments - one where he showed his skill at shielding the ball to retain possession, after a tangle of legs with Robbo. He also won the free kick that led to Bobby’s goal, after some nice play out wide and then promptly had a go at Salah for something. I liked that as it shows even the less celebrated players in the team are happy to dig up a superstar colleague if they think he’s not up to speed. Gini’s Achilles heel however is his tendency to play on the fringes of a game. He works hard closing the space and is neat and tidy in possession but there are long spells of many games where you don’t notice him at all and given the technical ability he undoubtedly has in his locker, he should be a more commanding presence in our midfield in my opinion. That said, I’m a Gini fan and always feel our midfield looks more balanced when he’s in it.

Salah (5) - Horrible game from Salah. I said in my last ratings thread that I’d seen an improvement in the technical side of Salah’s game this season but he made a mockery of that as his first touch, passing, shooting and dribbling were absolutely horrendous for the entire game. Salah has games like this however so I’m not worried and he’s not the type of player who’s self belief is fragile. Knowing him, he’ll pop up with a hat trick in his next game. Sunday was one to forget for him however, as so often happens to players when they come up against a former club. Just ask Sterling!

Firmino (7) - Gratefully snaffled up a free header to score our second goal and forced Kepa into a smart save just after the interval but all in all, not Bobby’s finest display of the season. He was probably our best attacker on the day though and ultimately scored the winner so I’m sure he’ll be happy enough with his display.

Mane (6) - Again, not the finest display from the final member of our much feared trio. Looked menacing at times and won the free kick for the opening goal but overall, not a game for the highlight reel. Went off second half with a dead leg. Mane’s another one who I’d be surprised to see play any part against MK Dons.

 Subs: 

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Milner (6) - I thought it was a strange substitution at the time before it was revealed Mane had suffered a dead leg. Brought on to bring in some level headed experience but was immediately booked. After that he huffed and puffed all over the place.

Lallana (N/A) - I could kind of understand the logic of bringing Lallana on, in as much as we’d lost control in midfield and Lallana is good at retaining possession and operating in small spaces but as is so often the case with Klopp’s substitutions, he came on too late to be able to have an influence.

Gomez (N/A) - Time wasting sub.

Klopp-watch (10) - Klopp wasn’t getting a 10 but as I’ve written these ratings, he’s been named as FIFA best men’s coach and so I thought I’d reward him with a big fat 10 which, being an avid reader of the nest, I’m sure Jurgen will cherish more than tonight’s award. In all seriousness though, it’s well deserved. Our victory at the weekend moved us ten points clear of Chelsea after six games. Three years ago, that would have been absolutely unthinkable and any Liverpool fan would have laughed at you for suggesting such a thing. What a job this guy has done at our club. We’ve won our last fifteen Premier League games, we’ve only lost once in over forty league games and we haven’t lost at Anfield for two and a half years. Can anyone really make a credible argument that Klopp isn’t the best in the world? Pep is the only other coach in Jurgen’s league but Klopp has done it with half the net spend. He’s built a title winning team, title winning mentality and we’re in title winning form. For the first time in the Premier league era, I make us favourites.

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Honourable mention:

Alisson - Our stricken goalie can take some consolation tonight in being handed the FIFA best goalkeeper award but he was a shoe-in wasn’t he? Premier league, Champions league and Copa America golden gloves winner, winning the latter two competitions. Named alongside Virgil in the FIFA team of the year as well. What a year he’s had.

Summary:

What an amazing time to be a Liverpool fan but my god we’ve earned it haven’t we? Decades of mediocrity with the odd season here or there, like 09/10 and 13/14 to give us a tantalising reminder of the club we could, should and used to be but there’s been way more Paul Konchesky’s and Andy Carroll’s over the years than there has Luis Suarez and Xabi Alonso’s and the reason is, we weren’t built for sustainable success. Prior to right now, the only period in the last twenty years where we weren’t a stepping stone for players was 09/10 but any hope of that team pushing on was destroyed by poor ownership. At every other stage, we’ve been vulnerable to our best players being picked off by Europe’s elite... But no more.

Klopp’s and Alisson’s awards tonight add to a gluttony of individual awards our players have won under Klopp’s tenure. Salah cleaned up the individual awards in his first season and won his second golden boot last season. Virgil has cleaned up the individual awards this year and is bookies favourite for the Balon D’or. Mane won the golden boot and I’ll be amazed if he isn’t named African player of the year. The big one on top of all that though - A Champions league winners medal.

Is it possible that our players heads could be turned by the boyhood dream of of playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid? Of course it is and for some players, they would just love to have one of those clubs on their C.V. For a true professional though? If you’re a true professional who has eyes on winning titles, the two Spanish giants are in the process or rebuilding. Liverpool are primed to win titles and when players are winning titles and individual awards, they don’t generally want to leave and if we can keep this team together, along with the odd cherry picked addition, we could be in for a golden period in the club’s illustrious history.

Anyway, this summary turned out differently than I had planned but I thought after the further awards won tonight, we deserved some overall credit. I’ll finish with an important environmental  message that is relevant to our weekend’s opponents... Say no to plastic!

Walk on

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