Player ratings: Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle

Firmino-and-Mane
It was a stubborn and well organised Newcastle who turned up at Anfield today and when they took the lead early on, they could have been forgiven for thinking they could perhaps have a repeat of their recent victory over Spurs. They soon learned however, that this Liverpool team is a whole different animal to Spurs. Let’s see how the league leaders got on.

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Adrian (7) - Another steady display from our deputy keeper. If I was being hypercritical, he dived with the wrong arm for their goal but it was hit with such venom, it was always going to be a difficult one to stop. Handling was steady enough and some decent distribution. Keep it up lad.

TAA (7) - A decent display from Trent but I did think he gave Willems way too much space to turn and shoot for their goal. Some good delivery on the day however and was heavily involved in our build up play. Always a willing runner as well. Just needs to sharpen up the defensive side of his game slightly and he’ll be a complete fullback.

Matip (8) - We’ve just come to expect Matip to be brilliant every week now and he continues to deliver. One misplaced early pass aside, I don’t remember Matip putting a foot wrong today. The understanding now between Virgil and Matip is brilliant, they take turns stepping forward, either closing the midfield or overloading the opposition half when we’re attacking. They deal with pretty much every aerial threat, composed and technically excellent with the ball at their feet. Perfect CB pairing. Denied a clear penalty which makes you wonder what the point in VAR is.

Van Dijk (8) - Was playing on the edge of Newcastle’s box at times and is technically assured enough to do it and he sprays the ball around from deep like a CM. Virgil wins pretty much every individual duel he has, his individual success rate must be through the roof and the effortless nature he does it, spreads through the team. He’s never flustered, just deals with whatever situation comes his way. He was the one who played Newcastle onside in the build up to their goal however.

Robertson (8.5) - Best display of the season from Robbo so far. Like the rest of the team, he had a sloppy start, gave the ball away and lost possession a couple of times. Sometimes however, there’s a moment in a match that changes the momentum and snaps the team into life.  It was from one of those early sloppy moments that this happened. Robbo gave the ball away but then chased it down like a man possessed and won it back with a crunching tackle. The crowd roared and got to their feet, the players responded and the tempo quickened. Moments later, we equalised. Robbo also opened his assist account for the season after brilliantly knocking the ball past the onrushing defender and feeding in Mane, who finished superbly. After that, Robbo went about totally dominating the left side of the pitch, both offensively and defensively. Brilliant display from a brilliant player.

Fabinho (8) - Another who showed his class after a slow start. I remember in the early days of his LFC career where he looked lost against Arsenal, unable to keep up with the pace of the Premier League. Now he swaggers around the centre of the pitch with authority and class. Reads the game expertly and snuffs out umpteen opposition attacks before they begin. Also shows the Brazilian in him however as he produces passes such as that delightful dink over the top for Trent to run on to, creating a good chance. How he’s not a regular for Brazil is beyond me. Top player.

Ox (6.5) - A really mixed day for Ox and I felt for him at times because there was no lack of effort from him. The ring-rust was apparent at times though as his touch let him down on a number of occasions and you could see his brain wasn’t working quite as quickly as his team mates. It’s to be expected after so long out however and more valuable minutes under his belt. Did show some promising bursting runs forward and willingness to shoot from distance. I believe he’ll be important for us this season, as long as he can stay fit.

Wijnaldum (7) - Good display from Gini I thought, did his usual dirty work and got himself in a couple of good attacking positions. Really unlucky with one effort which he controlled and struck brilliantly, only to see it just loop over. Another example of the excellent technique the Dutchman possesses. Bit of an unsung hero but continues to be one of Klopp’s most trusted lieutenants.

Salah (7.5)  - An unusually quiet game from Salah. He was all but anonymous in the first half but the reason Klopp very rarely subs Salah is that regardless how quiet he is or how poorly he might be playing, he’s always likely to pop up with a goal and he did today, with a very well taken, killer third goal. He was much improved second half as a whole actually and showed some nice flicks and back-heels. I do see an improvement in the technical side of his game this season and his goal return speaks for itself.

Mane (9.5) - I found it really difficult to choose between Mane and Bobby for man of the match but Mane’s game winning contribution probably has to just edge it and once again, it’s Mane who pops up with the important goals at important times. He opens the scoring for us far more frequently than anyone else and the commentators said today that Mane now has 25 goals in his last 29 Liverpool games in all competitions. Messi would be proud of that. Is there a better left sided attacker in the world right now? For me he’s overtaken Neymar and Hazard and he has the figures to back it up. His finish for the first goal was world class and that of an accomplished goal scorer. He’s evolved into a truly world class player in the last twelve months and on current form, I wouldn’t swap him for anyone.

Origi (6) - I feel a bit sorry for Origi. It’s really difficult for a player to get any rhythm about his game when he doesn’t get many minutes and when Origi is brought in, he replaces one of the world’s best attackers in whichever one of our front three it is he’s replacing. He then becomes an easy target if our attacking play drops off a notch. Should have done better with a header however and made the wrong decision a couple of times, conceding possession before going off injured just after the half hour mark. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.

Subs:

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Firmino (9) - If Steve Bruce could have chosen any of our players to go off injured in the first half. Origi would have been his last choice as it opened the door for our Brazilian maestro to come on and then the real Liverpool machine clicks in to gear. Bruce’s fears were instantly realised as Bobby’s first touch was to nick the ball back and his second was to play in Mane for our second, albeit their keeper made a mess of it. His assist for Salah’s goal however was absolutely out of this world. A sublime bit of skill from a player who is a nightmare for any opposition. Virgil said after the game that he’s glad they play in the same team because he’s almost impossible to mark. The positions he occupies leaves midfielders and defenders looking at each other, unsure who should be picking him up and it drags people out of position and creates space which either he, or someone else exploits. Couple that with his tenacity, work rate and technical ability and you have a truly unique player.
Are there better footballers than Firmino in the world? Probably. Better for this current Liverpool team though? No.

Milner (6) - Experienced head on to see the game out.

Shaqiri (6) - Showed some nice passes and willingness to attack. A hungry Shaqiri will be a weapon in the coming weeks.

Klopp-watch (8) - Not much to complain about but I will say this. I don’t like Origi on the left. When he plays alongside Salah and Mane, I think he should play CF. None of them can play the Bobby role, so why try? There’s no reason we can’t play Mane and Salah in their usual positions and Divock playing as a more recognised CF. We can play Ox/Keita/Shaqiri in midfield to bring a bit more attacking threat from deeper, even switch to a 4-2-3-1 if necessary for a game or two. Origi is good in the air and we put so many crosses into the box, it makes sense to maximise his strengths in my opinion. Jurgen has created a beast of a team here though and full credit to him.

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Summary:

Make no mistake, this Liverpool team are the real deal. Even when Newcastle scored, I still believed  in this team that they’d get the job done. Dani Ceballos made some interesting comments after our game against Arsenal. He said he’d never played against a team like us and he used a turn of phrase I found interesting. He said ‘They take the air from you’ and you can see us do that to teams. There was a point in the second half where the camera zoomed in on their right back and he looked like a broken man, sucking in oxygen and no wonder. Robbo gave him a torrid time on his own and that’s before you throw Mane into the equation!

It’s difficult at times to see how we can be beaten just now. This is a title winning team and with the injury to Laporte, could that prove the difference between ourselves and City at this time of asking?

Either way, I couldn’t be more proud of our current team, manager and club as a whole. Ourselves and City are probably the two best teams in world football right now but we’ve done it the right way, without financial doping. We’re now a juggernaut of a team and it’s difficult to see anyone outside City being able to live with us. We’re playing a brand of football that's the envy of every big club across the globe and you can see this team being destined for greatness. A great time to be a Liverpool fan.

I’ll sign off this ratings by saying Case, if you see this, I think I speak for the whole community when I say you are sorely missed, not just for your vast contribution to the site but much more just for your personality about the place and I know I speak for everyone when I say we all wish you well and hope to see you return to the site as it’s not the same without you. YNWA
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