Player ratings: Liverpool 2-1 Spurs

Salutations troops! After a week’s holiday which happily enough coincided with me not having to do a ratings thread for that dismal display at Old Trafford last week, we’re back in the hot seat. After the disappointment of last week’s results, it was Spurs turn to visit Anfield, hoping to perhaps capitalise on some weaknesses displayed last week. You just can’t keep this Liverpool side down however. Let’s see how our league leaders got on.

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Alisson (7) - Very little to do for the most part. No chance for the goal and given we had 68% possession, it’s safe to say his goal wasn’t being peppered. Showed some nice passing with the ball at his feet but I think what I like most about Alisson is that he just gobbles up all the basic goalkeeping work with minimal fuss. He faced a couple of shots on target in the dying stages but there’s no fumbles, no spilling the ball back out into the six yard box, or letting in shots that seemed easier to save (looking at you Karius). His basic goalkeeping skills are absolutely impeccable and you can see Van Dijk is a happier man with Alisson behind him.

TAA (8) - What a player this kid is turning into. We’re witnessing the rise of a genius footballer before our very eyes, as he’s almost getting better by the week. Desperately unlucky to miss out on The LBN MOTM, however I (controversially) have to agree with Gary Neville on this occasion, as his defending left a lot to be desired, especially first half. All Spurs attacks came down his side, he was caught out of position a number of times, Son turned inside him far too easily in the build up to their goal and his passing was blowing hot and cold first half. Enough negativity though. This 21 year old kid is now the driving attacking force in our team - the reigning European Champions. In any other team, he would almost certainly be playing CM by now as his passing range really is superb but in our system, fullback is better for him as it allows him to be far more creative than playing CM would with our current tactics. Future Liverpool captain in my book and the scary thing is, he isn’t even close to his prime yet. Brilliant player.

Lovren (5) - The same old issues blighted Lovren’s performance. A lack of composure and footballing intelligence have always held Lovren back from being a truly elite defender and if he hasn’t learned by now, he never will. Let’s start with the basics. Rule #1 - Don’t let the ball bounce. How often over the years has he let a long ball bounce only to get himself in a right mess trying to defend the subsequent mayhem that ensues from allowing control of the situation to be taken away from him and he does it all the time! He also just can’t help but get involved in physical battles with bigger stronger opponents. He was rag-dolled about by Lukaku last year and it was Kane’s turn to give him the run around yesterday. As a defender, you should make a judgement call if you’re likely to win a header from a long ball. If the answer is no then don’t challenge for it, allow the attacker to win the header but be ready to defend the next phase of play. If you go for the header and lose the challenge, you take yourself out the game and it’s another mistake he’s repeatedly made for years. He has some good games but he’s always a car crash waiting to happen and I won’t be sorry to see him go in the summer. I’m surprised he started actually but more on that later.

Van Dijk (7) - Has looked instantly more comfortable with Alisson behind him. His reading of the play was brilliant yesterday as he intercepted a number of dangerous passes. Imperious in the air as always but I did think he should have taken more control of Harry Kane in that regard, although in his defence, Kane was deliberately targeting Lovren. Should have scored  after finding himself with a free header from a corner, six yards out.

Robertson (7) - Had left his crossing boots at home as he misplaced a number of his passes after getting himself into good positions. Completely dominated Eriksen from start to finish however, both offensively and defensively and kept him completely anonymous for the entire game. Eriksen couldn’t deal with Robbo’s pace and strength as he out muscled him a few times while bursting into Spurs box. No end product however, which is unlike him to be fair. He was limping for a period in the second half however and I think he’s carrying a bit of an injury at the moment.

Fabinho (7.5) - Comfortably our best midfielder on the day and in the first half was pretty much doing it on his own, so poor were Gini and Hendo. Such a dominant force however Fabinho and even when he’s on the ground he has a knack of getting his body between the ball and the opposing player, more often than not, coming away with the ball. Showed good game management after picking up a booking but it could prove costly as if he’s booked against Villa next week, he would miss the City game. He’s due some rotation anyway so maybe worth playing Hendo in that role next week and giving Fabinho a well deserved break.

Henderson (7) - Was on his way to a big fat 5 after his first half display, which saw him lose the ball countless times, including taking far too many touches and being caught in possession within the first minute, leading to Spurs goal. Fair play to our skipper though, he doesn’t go away and popped up with the all important equaliser with a very well taken, left footed half volley I didn’t think he had in him! It was his first Anfield goal in four years, which highlights the one weakness this team still has - goals from midfield. Goal aside, Hendo was much improved second half, as we began to turn the screw but you could see the relief on his face at the final whistle. He knows what a big three points that was.

Wijnaldum (6) - Literally did nothing but press in the first half, as he barely touched the ball. He should have stopped Sissoko in the build up to Spurs goal as well, how he didn’t manage to at least bring him down there I don’t know. Like the team as a whole, he improved second half and even managed a shot! Another who could probably do with a rest and I’ll be surprised if he plays any part midweek.

Salah (7) - He actually started quite brightly and I almost fell off my seat when he played an eye of the needle pass to Bobby, through a crowd of Spurs players in the box and it actually found its target! We’ll have more of that please Mo. Forced the keeper into a decent save with an effort from outside the box and then a more straightforward save, when he opted for an audacious volley, rather than playing Bobby in with a simple pass. I suppose he’s allowed one a game though, given he has now scored 50 goals in 58 Anfield appearances. That is some record and he notched his 50th after converting such a pressure penalty to win the game on Sunday. Wasn’t a great penalty in fairness and he’s not the best penalty taker but I like his new ethos of just putting his foot through them. If you’re not a clinical penalty taker, that’s how to take them. Julian Dicks made a career out of it.

Firmino (6) - With his first touch, played a sensational through ball to Mane which could have put the Senegalese clean through, had he been able to control it. I thought ‘aye aye, here we go’ but after that he really struggled to make a mark on the game, as he was repeatedly dropping deeper and deeper, trying to bring us some invention from the midfield area. Worked hard as always and showed some nice footwork, again as always but couldn’t influence the game the way he would have liked.

Mane (8.5) - The only one of our forwards to turn up for the full 90 minutes. Tormented Serge Aurier (Spurs very own car crash) at times but was very wasteful with a great headed chance that came his way when it was still 1-0. Won the penalty and what I loved about it was that for all the silky skills and gracefulness you associate with Mane, this encapsulated the other side of his game. Showed great pace to beat Aurier to the ball but then seemed to have lost it in the ensuing tussle. Mane never gives up though and his tenacity was on full display, as he managed to avoid fouling Aurier and got himself in between player and ball, only to be clumsily kicked in the calf by the floundering Spurs fullback. This for me was the pivotal moment in us winning the game and that’s why I’ve gone for McMane as my MOTM.


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Milner (6) - Huffed and puffed.

Gomez (N/A) - Should have started.

Origi (N/A) - Thank god he had his shorts on.

Klopp-watch (8) - Ok, let me get this off my chest first. Why is Lovren starting over Gomez? That’s the ghost of Christmas past getting the nod over the ghost of Christmas future and against Spurs of all teams! A team Lovren has historically struggled against, including a watershed moment in Klopp’s Liverpool reign, when we got pumped 4-1 at Wembley (on my birthday, cheers lads) and Lovren got hooked after half an hour. That game brought about a tactical shift and in all honesty, probably the signing of Van Dijk. Even on a more individual basis however, Gomez would seem far more suited to dealing with the threat of Son. Lovren has no pace and isn’t a good defender in one on one situations. He was always likely to get isolated against Son at times during the game and Gomez has far better characteristics for that battle than Lovren so sorry Jurgen but you got that one wrong.

Moving on however, what a mentality Klopp has instilled into this team and unlike us fans who were all screaming for Ox and Keita at halftime, our knees collectively jerking, there is no such reaction from Klopp, or his players. Stay patient, keep doing what you’re doing and the chances will come and they do. Week in, week out. Bravo Jurgen.

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Make no mistake, this was a display of champions. For Spurs to score within the first minute, in such fortuitous circumstances, could easily have caused our boys to wobble, especially given our performance at Old Trafford, as well as City closing the gap to three points. There were no wobbles to be seen at Anfield however. Their goal changed nothing and the Liverpool machine clicked into gear almost immediately from then, totally dominating the remainder of the first half and creating enough chances that we should have been at least level going into the break.

Too often this season, we haven’t really looked ourselves until the second half of games and Sunday was no different. As much as we were dominating, we were sloppy with a lot of our play and our midfield seemed dishevelled. Second half however, our counter pressing game clicked and when it’s in full flow, it truly is a joy to behold. Spurs simply couldn’t get out of their half for huge periods of the second half and you can see it draining the opposition, grinding them down both physically and mentally, the crowd rise to it and the pressure on the opposition increases until slowly but surely they start to creak. As Dani Ceballos said after his first experience of playing us ‘They take the air from you’.

We are now 6 points clear of City having played Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, United and Leicester, dropping only two points. That is simply stunning form but it’s more than just picking up the points, we’re dominating theses teams. Yesterday, along with the 68% possession, we had 21 shots, 13 on target, to Spurs 11 shots, 4 on target. This is a good Spurs team but they couldn’t live with us and that is becoming a familiar tale for other supposed top teams.

Beating City at Anfield is an absolute must and if we do that, I think that could very well seal the title. They took four points off us last season, if we reverse that this year, I think the league is ours.

Arsenal in the cup midweek then and while in recent years I’ve actually hoped for an early exit from the domestic cups, this year I think we need to go far in them. We now have squad and youth players of a calibre that they will not be happy with no game time at all over a season and we need the domestic cups, both for the development of the likes of Brewster and Elliot but also for the match sharpness of the likes of Ox, Keita, Shaq and Origi. To that end, I’ll be disappointed if we go out on Wednesday although Arsenal traditionally have young players that do well in the cup competitions so it may well prove a tougher game than if Emery were to field his first team.

Anyway, that’s it for tonight folks, until next time YNWA.

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