We take a belated look at the Liverpool player’s performances in the 2-1 win at Mansfield on Sunday.
Brad Jones (7.5) MOTM … Proving himself to be a more than adequate deputy to Reina of late, also one blessed with both good reflexes and excellent shot-stopping ability. Not close to being as assured in his distribution as Reina …but (then again) few are. Called on once or twice first-half and was (ever) increasingly called on second-half (in several frantic periods) to save us on the day. Performed well.
Jack Robinson (6.5) … Didn’t really make any big mistakes and there were also a few eye-catching moves thrown in to excite his admirers (me included). Not sure if it was really enough to fully impress on the day, but hopefully he’ll be kept around the squad to learn more.
Andre Wisdom (6.5) … Good effort. Contributed pretty well offensively first-half, when we should really have already been out of sight. Required to defend mostly second-half but he coped pretty well there too, before suffering from cramp late-on.
Jamie Carragher (7) … Captained the side on the day and didn’t let us down in defence. His build-up play was pretty slow, but ultimately pretty accurate too. Would not have been fazed by being faced with a rearguard action for most of the second-half. Needed to call on all of his experience, as Mansfield threw plenty of men forward second-half.
Sebastian Coates (6) … Tough day at the office. A rare start – and very hard to see where he goes from here. There’s some definite talent there but maybe a loan move might benefit all parties.
Lucas (7) … Decent effort, with 6 covering tackles first-half alone (3 at LB, 3 on the touch-line) – to stop their counter-attacks before they even happened, including taking a yellow for the team against Green. Won most of his aerial duels in CM too and hit Surridge with one 50 yard pass which didn’t quite stick. Passing was a little off though and he did fade fairly noticeably late-on. Most important aspect though was his second successive 90 minutes, plus emerging unscathed from a pretty dodgy pitch, basically just getting himself ready for the important matches to come.
Joe Allen (5.5) … Struggled mostly and also seems generally unsuited to either a physical game and/or a long-ball game (from the opposition). Has seemingly lost his berth to Hendo recently and, if this game is anything to go by, it’s probably on merit. Maybe he can better compete for a place at number 10, as he complements neither Lucas nor Gerrard in the “2” aka sitting-role.
Jonjo Shelvey (6.5) …Mixed bag. Wonderful defense-splitting passes to Sturridge a few times first-half and he took up some great (scoring) positions second-half. Outside of these moments, he was however by-passed pretty easily and he also couldn’t get anything on target
Suso (5) … An FA Cup debut and some experience gained on a poor pitch …but he looks to be regressing badly from early season. Very poor free-kicks and second to the ball quite a lot.
Daniel Sturridge (7) … Good debut, with an extremely well taken goal. Moved well through the lines and always showed for the ball. Great understanding with Shelvey in more than a few moves. A direct player and a definite goal threat. Should really have added to his tally though, with all of 3~4 gilt-edged chances missed to kill the game off early.
Stewart Downing (6) …Very direct and purposeful in attack, less so in defense. Provided an attacking threat and was good in our second-half counters too, but the needed finesse was missing at times. Defensively not so good.
Luis Suarez: (on for Daniel Sturridge, 55 min) (7) … Almost scored with his first touch. Scored with a handball, but FIFA’s laws do not actually mention handball at all (only indirectly) and only if it’s deemed to be deliberate. Gave some impetus to the side when he came on and he also set up Shelvey brilliantly.
Jordan Henderson: (on for Suso, 55 min) (6) … Decent outing. Improved the team by replacing Suso, but had very little direct impact.
Jon Flanagan: (on for Andre Wisdom, 79 min) (6) … Little time on the pitch. Did OK.
General thoughts on the match/manager:
A line-up with 8 changes, and it showed. We looked cautious and a bit too measured from the kick-off, seemingly just relying on our superior qualities to overcome them.
We got the early goal and then carved out a good half-a-dozen clear chances in the remainder of the first-half (which we then failed to convert). Those chances weren’t so much the result of superior play though, but more from their over-respect for an EPL team and also their non-league-style marking deficiencies.
Admittedly, the pitch was very poor, but we also looked a bit tentative first-half.
Second-half, they responded pretty well and got stuck in and it quickly became a war of attrition with their many throw-ins, lots of free-kicks and lots of bodies forward all causing us many (unnecessary) problems. Then, we defended a bit too deep and basically relied on the counter.
Pretty sure that wasn’t the gameplan for the second-half, but it just happened. Typical early-round cup-tie in many ways – with an improving opposition,for a large part due to us not killing them off early and being unable to hit them on the counter to great effect.
Take the win and just move on. Good experience for the younger players and this round is now out of the way.