Liverpool raced to a 3-0 win thanks to the pace of their attack, but the game wasn’t without it’s problems for the Reds.
Stoke City 0-3 Liverpool
Premier League, Bet365 Stadium
Wedmesday, November 29, 2017
Goals: Mane 17′, Salah 77′, 83′
Simon Mignolet – 5 (out of 10)
Very lucky not to have been sent off for a foul on Mame Diouf with the score at 1-0. The challenge was rash, clumsy, and ill-advised, and the opponent would have had a clear shot on goal had he not been fouled.
Referee Martin Atkinson saved his blushes by only showing a yellow card.
Other than that, he came out well to punch a few crosses in a style which has long been called for in the Liverpool goal, but any good moments are far outweighed by one which could have cost his side some points.
Joe Gomez – 7
Another solid showing from the defender who made a big contribution to the first goal.
It was his cross from the byline, just keeping the ball in play, which found Solanke in the area before the ball was offloaded to Mane.
Solid enough in defence too, with a few interceptions and headers won for good measure.
Joel Matip – 7
Had the task of containing the aerial threat of Peter Crouch, and did it well most of the time.
Won six out of the eight aerial duels he was involved in, including an important one against Kurt Zouma from a set piece.
Steps into midfield well, which can be important when this formation moves from 4-4-2 to 4-2-4, and had more touches of the ball than any other Liverpool player.
Dejan Lovren – 6
Likes a clearance, even though he doesn’t always hit them cleanly.
He short passing was decent enough though, and it was a solid enough display in defence as he avoided any flash-points and remained mostly error free.
Alberto Moreno – 6
Was given the tough task of patrolling a flank which contained the speed of Diouf and the trickery of Shaqiri, but was relieved of the former as he moved up front following the opening goal.
Made a couple of interceptions, but missed some too, in what was a mixed night, but definitely not a bad one.
Appears to be immune to injury and fatigue, meaning he could keep his place ahead of Andy Robertson for some time.
Emre Can – 6
Like many of the performances, Can’s was neither outstanding nor poor.
He played the long pass forward which resulted in Salah’s second and showed bite in midfield if not always at the right moments.
His passing was a little off but he provided an extra aerial presence against which was important against this opposition.
In this formation, he can get more involved when Klopp chooses to use him in the double pivot.
Slightly better than Can with his passing, but can still improve in this area, and also managed to get a couple of shots away.
It would be good to see this pairing given an extended run in the side if they can stay fit.
Bullish and hard-working down the right wing and looks to be settling into the side thanks to his second start in a row.
Was involved in an altercation close to the touchline after which he was booked, then substituted. It was good to see a Liverpool player show a bit of fire when wound up by the opposition and he looked like he wanted to stay on and prove a point to the opposition as well as to his manager.
Roberto Firmino – 6
There were signs that he could develop a good strike partnership with Solanke, but on this occasion, he was outshone by his young team-mate.
May have been tempted to poke Mane’s shot across the line as it bobbled in for the opening goal, but refrained.
Worked hard as usual, but was dispossessed too often but for a player in his position its a fine line between a performance like today, and another day when everything comes off.
Dominic Solanke – 8
Assisted Mane’s opener with a neat pass around the corner, and looked like exactly the type of forward Liverpool needed against this type of opposition.
He played the pass through for Mane which should have led to the second goal for the Senegalese, and his physical presence also helped the side.
Won four aerial duels and made four key passes, showing his all-around ability up front.
Like Firmino, he looks good in deeper areas or with a partner, but he will have been pleased to get his first league start regardless of the position he played.
Sadio Mane – 8
Two moments of explosive play followed by two excellent pieces of technique led to two goals for his side.
The first was a chip over Lee Grant after an excellent touch to open the scoring, and the second was the lofted cross the Salah which made sure of the points.
In between, he looked a bit off the pace, including a missed chance to score another for himself, but he makes the impact in moments when it matters and this is often more than enough.
Starting XI Average Rating – 6.45
James Milner (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain 67′) – 6
A steady 20 minutes or so for the experienced pro, with his work rate complimenting the flair ahead of him. The wider role looks like it could be his best position going forward.
Mohamed Salah (on for Solanke 67′) – 9
Came on to reinforce the fact that he’s Liverpool’s best player with a great volley for his first goal, and some great pace and composure as he scored his second.
His manager couldn’t have hoped for a better result as he brought him off the bench, and the change made sure of the points.
It’s worth using Salah or Mane as a sub in games like these.
Jordan Henderson (on for Mane 89′) – N/A
Subs not used: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Coutinho, Sturridge.
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Rung the changes to great effect and also used Salah off the bench at exactly the right time.
The Egyptian has added two goals to his tally while also staying reasonably fresh, while Klopp saw his side claim three points and increase their goal difference by three as a result.
His use of taller players was a simple but effective tactic, and the side were only undone once or twice, and luckily the opposition’s best chances fell to Joe Allen.
Crouch was limited to knock-downs rather than shots, and that was partly due to Liverpool’s physical core designed by Klopp.
Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not