Liverpool were superb as they beat Man United 3-1 and returned to the top of the Premier League, but who scooped the Man of the Match award?
Liverpool 3-1 Man United
Premier League, Anfield
December 16, 2018
Goals: Mane 24′, Shaqiri 73′, 80′; Lingard 33’
Alisson (out of 10) – 5
Alisson has enjoyed a week of adulation after his late heroics against Napoli, but there was something horribly predictable about his mistake on Sunday.
His woeful error allowed Jesse Lingard to equalise in the first half out of nothing, which was all the more irritating as he had so little to do aside from that moment.
His handling was safe on a few occasions, but he was rarely tested.
Nathaniel Clyne – 8
Clyne was handed his first Premier League start of the season after James Milner was ruled out with a muscle injury.
The 27-year-old was the Clyne we all remember: solid defensively but limited going forward, although he did his best in the final third.
Considering his lack of game time, he did especially well.
Dejan Lovren – 7
Lovren returned to the defence in the absence of both Joe Gomez and Joel Matip and he was generally reliable, without being perfect.
Romelu Lukaku ran off him slightly too easily in the lead-up to Lingard’s goal and his use of the ball was not always the best, to put it kindly.
Missed a chance at 1-0 but was very switched-on at the back for large periods.
Virgil van Dijk – 9
Liverpool’s most important player captained the side and he was colossal, yet again, at the heart of the defence all afternoon.
The Dutchman kept the burly Lukaku anonymous for large spells, with his dominance in the air something to behold, while he was proactive in possession.
Best centre-back in the world? Absolutely.
Andy Robertson – 9
Robertson continues to be a fantastic signing and he was a huge influence at Anfield from the first whistle onwards, producing one of his best performances of the season.
His energy down the left flank gave the Reds a constant outlet and he was also strong in the defensive aspect of his game.
It would have been a perfect display were it not for several disappointing corners.
Fabinho – 9 (Man of the Match)
The Brazilian’s influence has grown of late and he was fantastic against United, bossing the midfield battle with tenacity and quality.
He fired wide and over the bar early on, before producing a delightful assist for Sadio Mane, dinking the ball into the Senegalese forward’s path.
He jumped into tackles, showed great strength and was eye-catching with the ball—more so than we have seen to-date from him in a Liverpool shirt—as his reputation soars.
Gini Wijnaldum – 8
Wijnaldum has been one of Livepool’s best players so far this season and he was again impressive on a joyous afternoon on Merseyside.
He was a part of a Reds midfield that comprehensively outplayed their opponents, running with the ball and affecting the game in a positive manner.
The version of Wijnaldum who goes missing in games has been consigned to history.
Naby Keita – 6
Keita started arguably his biggest game for the Reds and he produced a mixed performance, in truth.
His creativity and unpredictability was constantly on show, but his end product proved frustrating on a number of occasions, overplaying too much.
Substituted with 20 minutes left.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Salah has returned to his very best in recent weeks but he wasn’t as influential as Jurgen Klopp will have hoped—not that it mattered.
His pace and movement caused United constant issues, but like some of his team-mates, his final decision wasn’t quite perfect in execution.
Never stopped working, though.
Sadio Mane – 8
Liverpool’s No. 10 did so much good work, proving to be one of the most influential players on the pitch.
He opened the scoring with a precise finish and never stopped making dangerous runs and he then played a major role in Xherdan Shaqiri‘s first goal.
He was guilty of slowing play down a little and not picking the right option at times, but that’s being picky.
Roberto Firmino – 9
Firmino helped lead the line with Mohamed Salah in a 4-4-1-1 formation, or at least a version of it, and he oozed class throughout.
Some trademark flicks and tricks were on show, he held the ball up effectively and was involved in much of the best parts about Liverpool’s play.
He forced David de Gea into two good saves and embodied the hosts’ talent and spirit.
Starting XI Average Rating: 7.72
Xherdan Shaqiri (on for Keita, 70′) – 10
What an incredible impact! Two goals for the Swiss—both aided by deflections which will infuriate Jose Mourinho—who sums up the new-found squad depth at Liverpool.
Jordan Henderson (on for Mane, 83′) – N/A
Fired over but not enough time to make a proper impact.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Camacho.
Jurgen Klopp – 9
Klopp completely bossed his opponent Mourinho on a thrilling day at Anfield, getting a superb display out of his players.
The variant of the 4-4-2 formation worked perfectly in general as the Reds carved United apart at will, and they didn’t panic as the minutes ticked by.
Top of the league again it’s all thanks to Klopp—what a man.