23 Oct 2015

Liverpool Player Ratings: £26m star fails again; 38-hour shock stat; Klopp unfair on Allen?

Another game, another draw. It's now seven 7 draws in the last 8 games for Liverpool, and even with Jurgen Klopp at the helm, goalscoring continues to be an issue for the Reds. After the game, LFC legend Steve McManaman blasted Liverpool for being putting in a 'lackluster' performance, but it's only to be expected. Things aren't going to change overnight; it's going to take the rest of the season for Klopp to make his mark, and there will inevitably be bumps along the road until Klopp brings in his own players.

Player Ratings

* Mignolet (6): A quiet night for the Belgian; on good save in the first half, but still a little shaky on crosses/distribution. A better goalkeeper would've been screaming at Clyne to stay goal-side of Devic for Kazan's goal, but that's not in Mignolet's MO. He's a watcher, not a doer (or a leader), and that remains a problem. Liverpool need a goalkeeper who directs from the back, and (when necessary) cajoles, and organises defenders. Mignolet 'aint it.

* Moreno (7): Solid on the left, and got up and down the flank, but didn't really influence the game in an attacking sense. Delivered 12 crosses, but only 50% were accurate. Defensively good, though - weighed in with 8 blocks/interceptions/clearances/tackles (second highest in the team), and lost the ball only once in 90 minutes.

* Skrtel (7.5): Another solid performance. 89% passing accuracy, and didn't give the ball away once, which is impressive considering he made more passes than anyone else. Some argue that Skrtel was at fault for the goal, but that's nonsense. Clyne made the schoolboy error of not being goal-side of his man, and then got muscled off the ball too easily. Skrtel was exactly where he was supposed to be: defending the centre of the goal, and making sure no Rubin player could run in behind for a possible flick on/deflection. He was entitled to expect Clyne to win the challenge, or at least hold off the player. What should he have done? Abandoned his zone and gone naively gone for the same ball? If he'd done that, and the ball had fallen to a Kazan player in the space he vacated, then Skrtel would've been crucified by the same fans slamming him for this goal. As noted, it was a good performance by Skrtel overall, but he didn't make a single tackle for the entire game, which shows that it wasn't the most defensively impactful performance. That could just be a reflection of the fact that Kazan were down to 10 men for the bulk of the game, which meant less need to make tackles. Or, it could be down to excellent defensive positioning.

* Sakho (8): Another effective performance, and arguably Liverpool's best defender on the night. More interceptions/clearances/blocks/tackles/aerial duels than anyone else, and achieved 87% passing accuracy. Sakho also had 100% long-pass accuracy, which is rare for an LFC player. Seems to be growing in confidence, as evidenced by his surging run into Rubin's half midway through the second half. On this evidence, it doesn't look like Lovren will be getting back in the starting line-up any time soon.

* Clyne (6.5): Caught napping for the Rubin goal. Didn't get goal-side of his man, and then got muscled off the ball, which allowed Devic to score. 80% passing accuracy overall, but played 6 aimless long balls, none of which found a Liverpool player. Still, created four chances during the game, and made more tackles than Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Allen, and Milner.

* Can (5.5): Again, I just don't see what all the fuss is about. Okay, Can scored a goal, but it's not like he could miss. Defensively, he did okay (6 tackles/interceptions/blocks/clearances), but gave the ball away seven times (including 0% long-ball accuracy); didn't create a single chance, and didn't play a single through-ball. Also, beaten too easily in the build-up to Rubin's goal. Kuzmin glided past Can (who committed himself too easily) as if he wasn't there, which gave him the space to deliver the ball that led to the goal. Can just doesn't influence the game consistently enough, and as a central midfielder, he needs to start doing that. When Henderson returns, Can's place will be under threat, and rightfully so.

* Milner (5): What is the point of James Milner? Another ineffective performance. For all his much-vaunted energy/stamina etc, he didn't make a single tackle, block, interception, or clearance for the entire game. Just think about that: a central midfielder having zero defensive impact. Offensively, he fared a little better, and created four chances during the game, but his crossing needs to improve (20% accuracy), as does ball retention in the final third (dispossessed three times). Like Can, Milner also failed to make a single attacking through-ball. His set-pieces were also poor.

* Allen (6.5): Hooked at half-time, and to be fair, it's hard to understand why. In his 45 minutes on the pitch, Allen achieved the highest passing accuracy in the team (94%); didn't give the ball away once, and made more tackles/interceptions than Milner did in 90 minutes. Granted, Allen made zero impact offensively, but that's not his job. He played (ostensibly) as a defensive midfielder, and barely put a foot wrong. Perhaps Klopp blamed Allen for failing to cut out Kuzmin's ball into the box (which led to the goal)?

Lallana (5.5): Another unbelievably frustrating performance. Full of his usual superfluous tricks, but zero end product as usual. Lallana's final ball is simply appalling, and it's not good enough for a player in the prime of his career. Time and time again, he failed to deliver a decent cross and/or final ball into the box. One thing that particularly irritates me about Lallana's play is that his balls into the box are aimless. He just lumps the ball in and hopes for the best, rather than trying to specifically pick someone out. The best attacking players pick out specific individuals, and don't just hope someone will get on the end of a lumped ball into the box. This is why Lallana has only ONE assist in 38 hours of football (stretching back to December 2014). Not good enough. In my view, he should be dropped.

* Coutinho (5.5): On the surface, it seemed like a quiet performance from Coutinho, but he was actually Liverpool's most effective attacking player, with 6 chances created, and 7 shots on goal. That said, he made only 40 passes in 90 minutes (one of the lowest in the team), which shows he wasn't involved in the game enough. As a comparison: Lucas made 55 passes, and he played for only 45 minutes. Coutinho should he making more passes than most players, but he's spending too much time pressing/tracking, which also happened under Rodgers. He also gave the ball away 6 times, which is another area that needs improving.

* Origi (5): Pretty anonymous for most of the game. Touched the ball only 27 times, which is only two more touches than Simon Mignolet (!) Also, made only 18 passes (the lowest in the team), which - combined with the low number of touches - seems to suggest that he was isolated up-front. Gave the ball away four times, and offered very little defending from the front (No interceptions, blocks, clearances etc). Origi's hold-up play needs work, and with Benteke now back, he'll almost certainly be relegated to the bench.

* Lucas (6.5): Arguably should've started the game, but didn't do much defensively in his 45 minutes on the pitch (1 interception; no clearances, blocks, or tackles). Again, though, with Rubin down to 10 men, and Liverpool with the bulk of possession, there was a decreased need to defend. Got two shots on goal in 45 minutes, which is more than Milner managed for the entire game.

Stats: OPTA

* Klopp (7): Started a strong team, which shows he's taking the Europa League seriously. Removed Allen at half-time, which shows decisiveness. Made attacking substitutions (Benteke and Firmino), and after the game, delivered a realistic post-match press conference. Injuries are a major concern, but Klopp needs to find a way to get the best out of Coutinho. Right now, he appears to favour Lallana, and gives him the central attacking role in the team. This is a mistake (IMO). Coutinho should be the main-man. He created 6 chances from only 40 passes; imagine what he could do if he had the ball as much as Lallana. After being rejected by Brazil, Coutinho needs to be made to feel wanted at LFC, and right now, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Failing to beat 10 men is disappointing, but it happens, and I'm not that bothered overall. There will inevitably be more ineffective performances over the next 2-3 months, but the thing to remember is that Klopp is inarguably one of Europe's best managers, and given time, there will be a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

LFC Man of the Match: Sakho

Author: Jaimie K


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