3 Good, 3 Bad – Liverpool FC’s best and worst performers in September

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After rounding off a hit-and-miss September with a 3-2 win over Aston Villa, who were Liverpool FC’s best and worst players of the month?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the third goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s September Form Guide: L-D-D-D-W

September proved a mixed bag for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, and with the manager clinging onto his position at Anfield he will be pleased to see his side address their poor form towards the end of the month.

Kicking off with a 3-1 loss away to Manchester United, the Reds returned from international break to register three successive 1-1 draws, against Bordeaux in the Europa League, Norwich City in the Premier League and Carlisle United in the League Cup—with the latter eventually defeated in a penalty shootout.

After a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa, Rodgers will be hoping to see the Reds maintain a higher standard of form in October and beyond.

But which players can he depend on to do so?

Here are the three best and three worst players from Liverpool’s September.

 

Good – Danny Ings

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 20, 2015: Liverpool's Danny Ings looks dejected after the 1-1 draw with Norwich City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Danny Ings had to wait for his chance in Rodgers’ lineup, but when given the opportunity the former Burnley striker grabbed it with both hands.

Given his first start of the season in an uncomfortable wing-back role in the loss to United, Ings produced an understated performance of sheer endeavour, and was one of Liverpool’s best players.

Deployed in a more familiar attacking role against Norwich, Carlisle and Villa, Ings has quickly become a cult hero at Anfield, thanks to his work rate and quality in the attacking sector.

With two goals in three games as a centre-forward, Ings is proving his top-level credentials.

Ings has been so impressive that it is difficult to imagine Christian Benteke taking up a starting role alongside Daniel Sturridge on his return from injury.

Read more: Danny Ings: Liverpool’s shining light amidst Anfield’s negativity

 

Bad – Simon Mignolet

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in action against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Is Rodgers experiencing the fallout of not having signed a goalkeeper capable of providing competition for Simon Mignolet as Liverpool’s first choice?

Despite Adam Bogdan’s penalty-shootout heroics against Carlisle United, Mignolet has found himself under zero pressure in his role as Rodgers’ No. 1, and the Belgian’s nosediving form should be cause for concern at this stage.

After keeping three clean sheets out of four in August, Mignolet conceded in every game throughout September—letting in eight goals in four appearances.

His rollout into Juan Mata’s path against United and his fumbled punch to Russell Martin against Norwich are just two examples of Mignolet’s drop-off in quality over the last month.

With Victor Valdes dubiously linked with a move to Merseyside in January, Mignolet may find his position under threat if his form does not improve.

Read more: Simon Mignolet remains a concern that won’t go away for Liverpool

 

Good – Daniel Sturridge

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the third goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite only making two appearances for Liverpool in September, after recovering from a long-term hip injury, Sturridge is a prime candidate for the Reds’ player of the month—though the impressive Lucas Leiva may feel aggrieved.

Rodgers can be criticised for rushing the 26-year-old back into a starting role against Norwich, but the manager’s move was justified.

Sturridge adds immeasurable class in the final third, and Liverpool were desperate for his intervention in September—his pace, movement and finisher’s instinct are invaluable.

Aiding Ings’ fine performance against the Canaries, Sturridge adopted a more focal role in Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Villa, scoring two and testing Brad Guzan throughout with a series of accomplished efforts on goal.

It may be premature, but Sturridge’s return could save Liverpool’s season.

Player Focus: Daniel Sturridge returns with encouraging display in Norwich draw

 

Bad – Emre Can

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Norwich City FC

Emre Can spent three of his five appearances throughout September in an unnatural centre-back role, and the German has suffered for form as a result.

With Rodgers switching to a three-man defensive line at Bordeaux, Can has been tasked with the role he performed so valiantly during 2014/15—but having targeted a regular midfield role this season, the 21-year-old just doesn’t look interested in playing at centre-back, and perhaps rightly so.

Against Villa, Can was particularly culpable: regularly out of position and lacking intensity in the defensive sector.

Can’s best performance of September came in the loss to United, with his surging runs from midfield providing an isolated Christian Benteke with much-needed support.

Rodgers would be wise to take note of this, and move Can into a midfield role in the 3-4-1-2.

Player Focus: Emre Can presents an issue in centre-back role vs. Aston Villa

 

Good – Alberto Moreno

BORDEAUX, FRANCE - Thursday, September 17, 2015: Liverpool's Alberto Moreno in action against FC Girondins de Bordeaux during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I couldn’t feel more settled, I’m really happy—not just myself, but my family. We love the club and the city,” Alberto Moreno said at the end of September, gleefully assessing his return to Rodgers’ starting lineup.

That the 23-year-old is so enamoured with life on Merseyside should be a major positive to both club and supporters, as after being given his first start of the season against Bordeaux, Moreno has been in exceptional form.

Freed of the defensive responsibility of an orthodox left-back role, Moreno has been given the license to attack—and this has provided Liverpool another dimension in the final third.

The quality of Moreno’s delivery and his intelligent movement down the left flank highlights a supreme confidence and determination to hold down his starting spot.

A starring role against Norwich suggested Moreno could become a key playmaker for the Reds, with the Spaniard making six key passes—more than any other player—and assisting Ings’ opener.

Read more: Alberto Moreno impressing, but now overly relied upon with no cover at left wing-back

 

Bad – James Milner

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 29, 2015: Liverpool's James Milner looks dejected during the 3-0 Premier League defeat to West Ham United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Can a player who produced a goal-and-assist performance in the win over Villa be considered one of Liverpool’s worst players of September?

Heading into the final clash of the month against his former club, Milner was in worryingly poor form as Rodgers’ stand-in captain, with a lack of chemistry in midfield in the absence of Jordan Henderson hampering the Reds in the buildup.

Guilty of losing the ball too easily, and lacking any quality in his creative play, Milner was a dead weight in midfield alongside the more incisive Lucas.

Having picked up his form with a second-minute strike against Tim Sherwood’s side at Anfield, Milner will be hoping to see an improved run in the Liverpool midfield.

The 29-year-old was signed to add a winner’s mentality within the Reds’ squad—and Milner must start showing this more regularly.

Read more: Coutinho, Milner and Lucas all benefit from tweaked Liverpool midfield vs. Aston Villa

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