A scrappy win courtesy of a set-piece goal saw Liverpool beat West Brom at their own game, and there were a few impressive performances in red.
West Brom 0-1 Liverpool
Premier League, The Hawthorns
April 16, 2017
Goal: Firmino 45’+1
Simon Mignolet – 8
Untested for much of the game but had to be alert when Salomon Rondon fed Matt Philipps in the second half.
The Liverpool ‘keeper held the right position, stayed big, and was able to read the West Brom attacker’s shot to save well with his feet.
It could be an important moment in the quest for a top four place, and the Belgian was up to the task.
Lucky to be given a free-kick when he struggled to punch a set-piece clear in the first half, but he more than made up for this late on when he punched clear with authority on a number of occasions.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6
A few interceptions, a few useful clearances, more of the same.
Nothing exceptionally good and nothing outstandingly bad.
Sometimes that’s what’s needed in games like this.
Joel Matip – 6.5
Made a good covering tackle to stop Nacer Chadli in the area early on.
Wasn’t afraid to get forward and help the attack in the style of Kolo Toure, and found himself in the opposition area on a couple of occasions in open play.
Won a few headers, including an important one after he’d conceded a free-kick early in the second half.
Made a rash decision to commit to a tackle on Rondon later in the game which saw the big striker ease past him.
Other than that he was dominant and in control, on and off the ball.
Dejan Lovren – 6
Very sloppy with his passing in the first half, and couldn’t dominate his area in the way his centre back partner did.
That said it wasn’t a bad display from the Croatian, but Liverpool will be hoping for better in the future.
James Milner – 6
Had a great chance to score when Firmino crossed to him at the far post, but the auxiliary full-back got his volley all wrong.
He was on set piece duty from the wider areas, and shortly after a failed attempt from a similar area his cross was flicked on by Lucas to Firmino for the goal.
Covered well at right back on a couple of occasions late in the game when West Brom broke.
Lucas – 7
His flick on from Milner’s free-kick was instrumental in creating the opening goal for compatriot Firmino.
Picked up his obligatory booking for a foul on James McLean, which angered Klopp.
On the whole, he steadied the ship more than he rocked the boat.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 7.5
More of the same from Mr Consistent.
Gels the rest of the team together with his midfield tidiness.
Made some unbelievable lung-busting runs in injury time which helped the side cling onto the ball, and to the win.
Emre Can – 8
Was unafraid to slide into tackles in the opening exchanges. He’s increasingly enjoying the physical battle.
With every passing game he’s looking more and more like the midfielder Liverpool need to take them forward, literally and metaphorically.
Isn’t out there to win friends and will give as good as he gets against the Premier League‘s so-called physical teams.
In this battle of the giants, Can won more aerial duels than any other player with 6.
Roberto Firmino – 8.5 – Man of the Match
Started on the right but his first chance came on his weaker foot from the left after Coutinho’s through ball, but he dragged the shot wide.
Shortly after this he an important touch when defending a set piece, which diverted the ball away from the lurking Chadli.
Though he was stationed on the right he found space across the front line, and his alertness from Lucas’s flick allowed him to head the ball past Foster to give his side the three points.
An exceptional all-round display.
Divock Origi – 6
Fairly peripheral in the first half, reminiscent of his performance against Stoke in the last game.
Did work hard off the ball, though, and had a second-half effort which just curled around the far post.
Started to use his conserves of energy later in the game, showing good strength and control.
Unlucky to be taken off just as he was coming into it.
Intercepts in midfield to set Firmino up in the first half, but wasn’t firing at the high levels he sets for himself.
A few of his trademark efforts cutting in from the left sailed over the bar, and there may have been a case to take him off earlier, or instead of Origi.
Daniel Sturridge (on for Origi 82′) – N/A
Not given enough time to get into the game, and Klopp may have been better persisting with Origi.
Alberto Moreno (on for Coutinho 90’+2) – N/A
Attempted to score a long-range effort late in the game with Foster up for a corner, but scuffed the shot wide.
Jurgen Klopp – 7.5
Klopp’s hand was forced early on when a knee injury ruled Ragnar Klavan out of the game.
Liverpool had used a back three in their last game, against Stoke, so the Estonian’s absence from the back line may have also forced a last minute change to the formation.
This could explain the slow start, but in deciding to play Firmino from the right the manager could finally have found the solution to a Sadio Mane-less forward line.
Klopp expected a tough match, but it could be said that he beat West Brom at their own game with a scrappy win from a set piece goal.
At this stage of the season the staff and fans will take that every day of the week.