Following the announcement of Liverpool’s ten-strong shortlist for Performance of the Season, Jack Lusby ranks his top five. Who wins out?
With the 2014/15 season drawing to a close, Liverpool have announced their official shortlist for Performance of the Season, with some great individual displays featured.
The contenders are as follows:
– Kolo Toure v Real Madrid, November 4, 2014
– Raheem Sterling v AFC Bournemouth, December 17, 2014
– Philippe Coutinho v Arsenal, December 21, 2014
– Adam Lallana v Swansea City, December 29, 2014
– Steven Gerrard v AFC Wimbledon, January 5, 2015
– Lazar Markovic v Sunderland, January 10, 2015
– Emre Can v Bolton, February 4, 2015
– Jordon Ibe v Everton, February 7, 2015
– Philippe Coutinho v Manchester City, March 1, 2015
– Simon Mignolet v Blackburn Rovers, April 8, 2015
While some stand out as less worthy than others, and some great performances have been overlooked, which deserves to win the award?
Here’s our top five from the club’s official Performance of the Season candidates.
5. Kolo Toure vs. Real Madrid, Champions League Group Stage, November 4, 2014
It was a highly contentious team selection by Brendan Rodgers, as Liverpool travelled to the Bernabeu to take on Real Madrid in the Champions League, with the manager selecting a host of peripheral figures in what was initially deemed a lack of respect shown to the occasion.
Kolo Toure came in, alongside the likes of Emre Can, Fabio Borini and Lucas Leiva, and disproved this criticism with a top-class defensive display.
In a no-nonsense performance, Toure made six clearances and six blocks, including a last-ditch stop to deny Cristiano Ronaldo after the No. 7 had thrown off the poor Martin Skrtel.
Toure was on fire that night, although Liverpool eventually lost 1-0, and after the game he declared: “I have missed games like this. I play with my heart and I am ready to fight for my club.”
The Ivorian encapsulated a spirit that would drive the Reds on during a troubled period.
4. Adam Lallana vs. Swansea City, Premier League, December 29, 2014
Liverpool’s 4-1 home victory over Swansea City was one of the only times where the Reds have looked truly sensational in the Premier League this season, and it was £25 million Adam Lallana that shone brightest in this virtuoso team display.
With the 3-4-2-1 in full flow, Lallana was fielded on the right-hand side of Rodgers’ supporting dual-No. 10 attacking structure, and the midfielder linked the Reds’ forward play fluidly, helping drive his side on with three successful dribbles and one key pass.
Lallana also made five successful tackles, showcasing some exemplary pressing technique, and scored two goals to spearhead an important victory.
This was the performance that arguably kick-started Liverpool’s exceptional run of form in early 2015.
3. Emre Can vs. Bolton Wanderers, FA Cup Fourth Round Replay, February 4, 2015
Liverpool looked set for a miserable FA Cup shock as they entered the dying moments of their fourth-round replay against Bolton Wanderers in February, but the intervention of Emre Can spurred the Reds on towards a hard-fought late victory.
Initially taking up his right-sided role in Rodgers’ then-customary back-three defensive system, Can performed with defensive perception and composure, but it wasn’t until the manager moved him into a central position that he truly shone.
Switched with Skrtel into the central defensive position, Can was allowed to drive through the Bolton midfield with power as the Reds looked for a win after Neil Danns was sent off.
Then, in a more advanced position, his influence grew further.
Shortly after striking the bar with a long-range effort, Can picked out Raheem Sterling with a measured, lofted through-ball, with the forward gratefully despatching an equaliser before Philippe Coutinho secured the win with a vintage curler.
Can showed true leadership when Liverpool really needed some, and showcased just where he should feature in the long term under Rodgers.
2. Lazar Markovic vs. Sunderland, Premier League, January 10, 2015
Lazar Markovic has suffered a difficult first season on Merseyside, but his outstanding performance in January’s 1-0 Premier League win over Sunderland should point to a bright, long-term future for the Serbian at Liverpool.
Fielded in the right wing-back position that he has since struggled in the 3-4-2-1 system, Markovic showcased an endeavour that had likely endeared himself to Rodgers prior to his £20 million signing from Benfica, driving from deep with persistence and great pace.
He should have won a penalty in the opening stages thanks to this, but Markovic was rewarded shortly after by starting and capping off a great team-counter move with a simple finish.
Although Sunderland came into the tie bereft of confidence, Markovic would have torn apart any Premier League side that day.
He also, of course, thundered the bar with an amazing, acrobatic volley—this would have been the goal of the season, by far.
Performances such as this point to a bright, match-winning future for Markovic at Liverpool.
1. Philippe Coutinho vs. Manchester City, Premier League, March 1, 2015
Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City in March was a welcome relief which saw Rodgers’ side briefly rejuvenate their top-four charge in the Premier League, and it was all fuelled by the magic of Coutinho.
Taking up his usual left-sided playmaking role in the 3-4-2-1, Coutinho lined up directly between Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany, and embarrassed the experienced pair throughout.
His tenacity in chasing down seemingly lost causes, his sensational quality on the ball and his ability to spot a pass—aided by the movement of Sterling—all made Coutinho untouchable at Anfield that day.
Coutinho made four successful dribbles and one key pass, as well as providing the winner with an incredible long-range strike that thwarted the sprawling Joe Hart.
This was a defining performance from Liverpool and from Coutinho, who has reached a new level of quality this season, and is growing towards world-class consistency as Liverpool’s very best player.
Statistics via WhoScored.
What stands out is your Liverpool Performance of the Season? Let us know in the comments below.