Liverpool 2-1 Everton
FA Cup Third Round, Anfield
January 5, 2018
Goals: Milner 35′, Van Dijk 84’; Sigurdsson 67’
Loris Karius – 6 (out of 10)
The German replaced Simon Mignolet for cup duties, and he did little wrong on what was his first experience of a Merseyside derby.
Unlucky to have spilled a free-kick as his gather hit Joel Matip on the way down, but perhaps has to be stronger in such situations.
Could do nothing about Gylfi Sigurdsson’s equaliser.
Joe Gomez – 8
Back in familiar surroundings at right-back after filling in on the opposite side at Burnley, Gomez was in typically impressive form.
He was assured defensively, his athleticism key to winning his individual battles, and showed marked improvement in defending the back-post when required after recent errors.
Provided a composed supporting outlet for developing play well at appropriate moments, but should have scored to make it 2-0 when heading wide from close range.
Did everything with minimum of fuss before being withdrawn, and to play with such maturity and composure in such an occasion just shows what a talent he is.
Joel Matip – 7
Matip returned to the XI as Klopp sought to get what is expected to be his first-choice central partnership up and running, and the Cameroonian made a steady if unspectacular start.
Won some important headers when under pressure in the box and cleared his lines decisively all evening.
Nothing pretty, but didn’t need to be.
Virgil van Dijk – 9 (Man of the Match)
The eyes of the watching world were on the £75 million man, who made one of the most scrutinised and pressurised debuts football has ever seen.
It was a bold move from Klopp to throw the Dutchman in, but it paid off as Van Dijk impressed with an absolute dream match-winning debut.
Showed the organisation skills the Reds have been crying out for, instructing and marshalling the back-line from the very first minute which was great to see.
Was strong in the air throughout, displayed best as he rose like a salmon to instantly repay the world-record fee by heading home the winner. What a start to his Reds career.
Andy Robertson – 8.5
Back in from the start after a rest at Burnley, Robertson produced the best performance of his Reds career to date.
Had his hands full with the direct and powerful Yannick Bolasie but was excellent one-against-one, timing some hard but fair challenges to perfection.
Didn’t contribute going forward too much, but when he did his crossing and final pass was on point.
An excellent night for the Scotland international, who would have got man of the match had Big Virgil not popped up with the winner.
Emre Can – 7
The German continued in his preferred No. 6 position with Jordan Henderson sidelined and did a solid job in his destroying role.
Did a good in particular job nullifying Wayne Rooney who lost his head and was dragged off early.
James Milner – 6
Big responsibility was on Milner’s shoulders as captain for the night, but disappointingly, he didn’t lead with a captain’s performance.
Took responsibility with the penalty and converted from the spot in typical nerveless fashion, sending Jordan Pickford the wrong way.
Covered plenty of ground, but lacked craft and invention, while he did little to calm the team down and restore control after Everton got back in the game.
Adam Lallana – 4.5
It was a surprise to see Lallana start a second game in quick succession after his lengthy injury layoff, and it was therefore no surprise to see him at far from his best.
Was sloppy in possession throughout and way off the pace with the game going on around him as his rustiness and lack of match fitness showed.
Did make the a key contribution winning the penalty, but failed to kick on after that boost and wasted a good chance to make it 2-0 before missing a vital header which allowed Everton to counter attack for the equaliser. A night to forget.
The summer signing has been in really good form in recent months, and this was another good display.
Produced an erratic first-half but really grew into a strong influence after the break, driving on down the right and getting through plenty of work defensively and offensively.
Played a great first time ball that created a clear-cut chance for Lallana, while his delivery from set-pieces are a surprising but pleasing attribute, with this shown for Van Dijk’s winner.
Sadio Mane – 6
The Senegalese was one of the villains of December’s league derby draw, but didn’t fare quite as badly on what his 50th appearance for the Reds.
Something of a small miracle that he actually played after his whirlwind 24 hours flying to Africa and back, but you could see the effects with Mane far from his best.
Fired a couple of wild shots way over the bar, and his final ball was off while his usual bursts lacked the conviction we usually see.
Worked hard but this was backward step just when it looked like he was rediscovering form.
Roberto Firmino – 7
The Brazilian returned to his central role after being left out at Burnley, and used that freshness to produce a hard-working, selfless performance.
Relentlessly hassled Everton’s defence and gave Mason Holgate the runaround, which culminated in the Blues defender shoving Firmino into the Main Stand, for which he somehow escaped a sending off.
Not his usual influential self in possession, but held the ball up well at times considering he was a little isolated throughout.
Starting XI Average Rating: 6.95
Gini Wijnaldum (on for Lallana, 70’) – 6.5
Only on for 20 minutes but settled into the game well, providing a calming influence and keeping the ball moving as the clock ran down.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (on for Gomez, 77′) – N/A
No real time to make an impact but, perhaps understandably, was slightly behind the speed of the game after coming on.
Dominic Solanke (on for Milner, 77′) – N/A
Little time to make the difference, but made his presence felt picking up a yellow card.
Subs not used: Ward, Klavan, Lovren, Ings
Jurgen Klopp – 7
The boss said he would pick his strongest side and he stuck to his word fielding a high-quality, high-energy selection no one would have complained about.
Even sprung a nice surprise by throwing Van Dijk straight in and though it was a bold move it paid off, with the Reds looking far more assured and composed defensively throughout and with the Dutchman popping up with the winner.
Not the best display of his tenure, but got a battling performance full of character from his side, and also deserves credit for keeping the team focussed amid the on-going saga that is Philippe Coutinho’s Barcelona move.
Will be delighted to have claimed a deserved derby-day win after frustration last month, and he will hope it provides the catalyst for the Reds to launch a genuine challenge. A good night for the German.
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