Premier League – Anfield – Sunday 17th January 2016
Goals: Rooney, 78th
Simon Mignolet (out of 10) – 6
The Belgian had little to do all afternoon at Anfield against a toothless United attack, but once again it’s a goal conceded from a set-piece.
Quite why he slides to his knees when Fellaini’s header hits the bar isn’t quite in the goalkeeper handbook – had he not, he’d have been there to save Rooney’s follow up. This problem isn’t going away.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6.5
The 24-year-old turned in a solid if unspectacular performance at right-back.
Typically astute defensively and when one-against-one, but frustrated with a lack of end product when joining in attacking play and looked panicky on the ball at times.
Kolo Toure – 7
Continuing at centre-back, the Ivorian was one of Liverpool‘s better performers – despite playing in two games of such intensity this week and at his age.
One dodgy moment with a clearance over his own crossbar in the second half, but cleared his lines well, won some important headers and defended well one-against-one when he had to.
Mamadou Sakho – 8 (Man of the Match)
After a couple of unsettled performances on return from injury, Sakho returned to his best with a dominating performance at the heart of the defence.
Calm and composed in possession with his distribution tidy as ever, the Frenchman made some excellent challenges putting his body on the line, was commanding in the air and it was a shame he couldn’t quite reach Milner’s floated cross at the Kop end.
A good day at the office overall for Moreno, who was pleasingly strong with his defending and sensible in his decisions with when to support offensive play.
Used the ball well and made some good recovery challenges after marauding forward, though should have done better with Firmino with one counter attack the pair muddled.
Lucas Leiva – 7
Back in his holding role, the experienced Brazilian produced an impressive performance, strong and combative in the midfield battle.
Competed superbly with Fellaini all afternoon winning numerous headers and used the ball well – including releasing Lallana over the top first half for Firmino’s strike – while protecting the Reds defence impressively.
Emre Can – 6
The German has become a key part of Klopp’s Liverpool, but didn’t enjoy his best afternoon in a Red shirt at Anfield.
Can was slow and ponderous in possession – as he was in the second half against Arsenal – off the pace with his break up play and lacked the influence displayed in recent games, though did almost fire Liverpool head, twice denied by two great saves from David De Gea.
Jordan Henderson – 6
The Reds captain turned in a hard-working performance in midfield, but lacked quality in keeping with the poor game at Anfield.
He should have done a lot better with the shooting opportunities that came his way but lacked conviction and accuracy in each, and didn’t drive the team on as hoped in such a big game.
James Milner – 5.5
A typically Milner performance in a Liverpool shirt from the 30-year-old.
Worked hard all afternoon as usual, but lacked quality on the ball too often and failed to provide anything of note other than a half-decent cross for Sakho that the Frenchman headed over.
Adam Lallana – 5.5
Another performance from Lallana where his off-the-ball work outshone anything he produced with the ball.
Supported Firmino well in attack, but lacked conviction in possession, particularly with his shooting.
His last league goal was last May. He cost £25 million and plays every week in attacking midfield. It’s a woeful return and he has little end product.
Roberto Firmino – 7
It was another impressive showing from the Brazilian up top, where he pulled the strings in Liverpool’s attacking play for the majority.
His touch was immaculate at times, and he created a great chance with a superb switch pass to Milner who should have done better, and carried the Reds biggest threat but frustratingly lacked killer instinct.
Jordon Ibe (on for Lallana 76’) – 5
Not a good 15 minute cameo from the teenager, who switched off in his role to stop United playing a short-corner which lead to the goal. Didn’t influence much down the other end. Not sure why he was put on the left.
Christian Benteke (on for Toure 81’) – N/A
The big Belgian had little time to make an impact, but frustrating got in Milner’s way as he was about to shoot and managed to kill all pressure in the United box by being needlessly offside.
Steven Caulker (on for Milner 90’) – N/A
Thrown up front late on, he headed one up in the air as he tried to cause chaos in the United box.
Jurgen Klopp – 6
It was an afternoon of frustration for Klopp who watched his side fall to an underserved loss.
Made a good decision in switching shape and bringing in Lucas to give Liverpool control of midfield, which saw the Reds dominate large parts of the game.
Could perhaps have made offensive changes earlier with the game there for the taking, but ultimately let down by his side’s continued failure to deal with crosses into the box.
Should be winning games like this when the opposition play so poorly – no matter who they are.
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