Liverpool made it two 1-0 wins from two opening Premier League games, courtesy of Christian Benteke’s goal vs. Bournemouth. Jack Lusby provides his player ratings.
Liverpool 1-0 AFC Bournemouth
Anfield – Premier League – Monday, 17 August 2015
Goals: Benteke 26′
Simon Mignolet – 6 (out of 10)
Despite an impressive Bournemouth attacking game, Mignolet had little to do between the sticks.
When he was called upon the Belgian performed with composure and intelligence, earning a deserved clean sheet. Decent distribution, often more direct but less so than against Stoke.
Nathaniel Clyne – 7
Clyne produced another steady performance at Anfield, balancing defensive stability with some rampaging runs towards the Bournemouth penalty area.
The £12 million right-back could have registered his first assist of the season if Christian Benteke had turned away his accurate, driven cross in the second half.
A huge upgrade on Glen Johnson.
Martin Skrtel – 6.5
Brendan Rodgers hailed the performances of his back line following last weekend’s 1-0 win away to Stoke City, but at Anfield his centre-backs were far from their best.
Skrtel was forced to perform a no-nonsense role in the defence, making 10 clearances—more than any other player.
Dejan Lovren – 6
Alongside Skrtel, Lovren looked closer to his shaky 2014/15 form than the bold display that he produced against Stoke, and the Croatian struggled.
Targeted in the opening stages, Lovren needed support from Joe Gomez to stymie the movement of Callum Wilson and creativity of Matt Ritchie.
The former Southampton defender did grow into the game in the second half, but must produce more with Mamadou Sakho waiting in the wings.
Joe Gomez – 7
Is this really an 18-year-old playing out of position?
Gomez performed with consistency and maturity throughout Monday night’s clash, providing a calming outlet in possession and a strong presence in defence.
He was one of Liverpool’s most accurate passers, completing 89.5 percent.
James Milner – 7
Joining Jordan Henderson in the midfield pivot in Rodgers’ 4-2-3-1, Milner continued the more advanced role he played against Stoke—Liverpool’s game-plan is built around his energy and pressing game.
A central figure as the Reds attacked the Bournemouth box, threading passes into the paths of Benteke and Philippe Coutinho as well as playing some slick one-touch moves.
Jordan Henderson – 6.5
With Milner fielded closer to the penalty area, Henderson was restricted to a deep-lying playmaking role.
After struggling to impose himself at the Britannia Stadium last weekend, Henderson impressed against Bournemouth.
Strong in the tackle and inventive with his long-ball creativity, Henderson’s performance will have provided Rodgers with an interesting outlet as he moves forward.
Adam Lallana – 5.5
After disappointing at the Britannia Stadium, Lallana was once again limp and listless in Liverpool’s attacking midfield.
His contribution to the Reds’ pressing game is admirable, but Lallana must do more to help build attacking moves—switching from No. 10 to right wing and back, the midfielder played a peripheral role throughout.
A truly enigmatic performance from Coutinho.
On one hand, the Brazilian was Liverpool’s most inventive creative player, carving opportunities for Benteke and Jordon Ibe and troubling the Bournemouth defence with some breathtaking dribbles.
But on the other hand, Coutinho was sloppy and wasteful: the 23-year-old made eight attempts on goal, with none hitting the target.
Jordon Ibe – 6
Ibe moved to the left wing for this clash, and was once again bright but ultimately toothless.
Constantly troubling the left-hand side of the Cherries’ penalty area, Ibe’s weaving runs and blistering pace needed to be paired with a genuine end product—the 19-year-old has much work to do this season.
Christian Benteke – 7.5 (Man of the Match)
Benteke is confounding supporters’ worries by the game, and this impressive, all-round performance—capped with a goal—pointed towards a bright future in the Liverpool attack.
His hold-up play was bold, his creative work surprisingly neat and his ability to spearhead attacks vital.
The striker should, however, have buried his second-half volley to make the result a comfortable 2-0. [td_ad_box spot_id=“custom_ad_3″]
Emre Can (on for Henderson, 52′) – 6 – The German midfielder took up a defensive-midfield role on his introduction, putting in some strong tackles to quell the Bournemouth charge.
Roberto Firmino (on for Ibe, 70′) – 5.5 – Firmino made some useful touches and pressed well from the front, but the 23-year-old still looks short of match fitness.
Alberto Moreno (on for Coutinho, 81′) – 6.5 – In a short, 10-minute display, Moreno showcased just why he deserves to remain in Rodgers’ first-team thinking in 2015/16. Strong in defence and devastating in attack, with one bamboozling solo run the highlight of the second half.
Subs not used: Bogdan, Toure, Ings, Origi
Brendan Rodgers – 6
Rodgers was surprisingly reticent as Bournemouth pushed for an equaliser in the second half, with his 4-2-3-1 formation not providing the balance that Liverpool needed, but his second-half changes helped the Reds to steady the ship.
The introduction of Moreno was particularly inspired, with the Spaniard doubling up with Gomez at left-back to support a beleaguered defensive line.
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[statsfc-player-rater key=2dCG2IPndnJBm4GL141AFJQnx7Wsl6gT3JGGW02u team=Liverpool date=2015-08-17 default_css=false]
LIVERPOOL 1-0 BOURNEMOUTH:
PLAYER FOCUS: Christian Benteke vs. Bournemouth
FAN REACTION: “Performance unconvincing, result important”
TALKING POINTS: Clyne and Benteke impress, Lallana ineffective
MANAGER REACTION: Howe unhappy with decisions