Another Europa League game, yet another 1-1 draw. Jurgen Klopp’s first taste of Anfield as Liverpool manager ended in ultimately a very frustrating evening and disappointing result. Having conceded a poor opening goal, after Emre Can’s equaliser Liverpool really should have gone on to win the match against 10 men. Despite dominating possession, there was a distinct lack of cutting edge in the final third. However, encouragement can be taken from other aspects of the performance including some standout individual displays. Here’s how I rated our players on the night.
Simon Mignolet- 7/10
Largely a spectator for the majority of the game, Mignolet made a couple of important saves when needed. His distribution was fine on this occasion, and he could do little to prevent Rubin Kazan’s opening goal.
Nathaniel Clyne- 5/10
Tasked with providing a constant outlet on the right flank, Clyne operated almost as an orthodox right winger for most of the game, receiving plenty of the ball. He took up some clever attacking positions and made several aggressive runs, but there was a lack of quality with his final ball. He did, however, pick out Benteke with a superb cross which should have led to the winning goal had the Belgian applied a better finish. Clyne’s positioning let him down for the Rubin Kazan goal as he got caught wrong side of the attacker, allowing him too much time and space to shoot.
Martin Skrtel- 5/10
Skrtel looked uncomfortable against Spurs at the weekend and was hardly convincing on this occasion either. Positional lapses and a tendency to back off on-rushing attackers are consistently poor features of his game, and he struggles to put in commanding performances when playing as part of a back four, without the protection he receives when playing centrally in a three-man defence.
Mamadou Sakho- 9/10
Easily Liverpool’s man of the match once again, Sakho continued his imperious form of late. Aside from scoring a goal, he couldn’t have done much more. He was aggressive in the challenge, anticipated loose balls and dominated in the air. Alongside his defensive solidity his composure in possession was exemplary, displaying a range of cool, accurate and incisive passing from the back. Top class.
Alberto Moreno- 7/10
Much like Clyne on the opposite flank, Moreno predominantly featured as an out-and-out left winger with Liverpool camped in the opposition half for most of the game. Moreno displayed better quality on the ball than Clyne, getting forward well with pace as well as making a game-high 5 interceptions. His energy and enthusiasm to get around the pitch and win the ball back are superb, and whilst his final ball was inconsistent on the night, he delivered one perfect delivery in the second half which Benteke couldn’t quite convert.
Joe Allen- 4/10
This was a good opportunity for Allen to make an impression under the new manager, but he comprehensively failed to grasp his chance. He was too ponderous and sometimes sloppy in possession, whilst he lacked the energy and work rate of his midfield counter parts when closing down the ball. Replaced at half time, he couldn’t make any impression on the match.
James Milner- 5/10
It’s starting to become the same story every week with Milner. He continues to be a hard working source of energy and graft in midfield, but so far without a great deal of quality to go with his enthusiasm. He had a lot of the ball but was unable to carve an opening in the Rubin Kazan defence and his delivery from set pieces was very poor. Made several clumsy challenges and was fortunate to avoid a booking.
Emre Can- 8/10
Emre Can looks to be one of the players immediately benefiting from Klopp’s arrival, relishing the opportunity to play in midfield, which is clearly his best position. Can followed up an impressive performance at Spurs with another all-action, box-to-box display. He was dynamic, physical and worked tremendously hard to press the opposition and make tackles. He showed skill and composure on the ball, and anticipated Origi’s knock-down to hammer in the equaliser from close range to register only his second Liverpool goal.
Adam Lallana- 7/10
Lallana also looks like a player rejuvenated under Klopp so far, proving his willingness to buy into the high intensity style of play. He’s showed confidence and ability on the ball with some excellent touches, turns and dribbles. Although there wasn’t an end product on this occasion, it was another encouraging performance by Lallana and the key for him is now maintaining this level and building upon it for a sustained period of time.
Philippe Coutinho- 5/10
We all know how talented Coutinho is, but he’s very much off the boil at this point in time. Whenever he picks up the ball, his quality is clear to see but here, like in recent weeks, he couldn’t pick out an accurate final ball and lost possession on too many occasions. It looks as though he’s trying to rush things when he has more time than he thinks, which can explain his erratic shooting. Made a minimal impact on proceedings before being withdrawn with half an hour to play. The impending return of Sturridge should hopefully help him regain his form.
Divock Origi- 5/10
Leading the line once again in the absence of Liverpool’s other injured strikers, Origi worked hard and held the ball up well but ultimately didn’t offer enough of a threat in the penalty area. We can expect to see more from him in the future, but at this point in time he looks like a better option off the bench rather than from the start.
Lucas Leiva- 7/10
Lucas was excellent against Spurs and put in another strong display in the second half here, proving far more effective in this position than Allen was in the first 45 minutes. Lucas’ crisp passing and positional intelligence helped drive his side forward in search of a winning goal, offering defensive cover and balance as Liverpool poured forward in numbers.
Christian Benteke- 5/10
Replacing Coutinho for the last 30 minutes, Benteke looked decidedly rusty on his return from injury, unsurprisingly so. He should have done much better from Clyne’s pin point cross as he volleyed a wild shot well over the bar from close range, but was unlucky to see his low, curling effort hit the post.
Roberto Firmino- N/A
On in place of Origi for the final 15 minutes, Firmino wasn’t hugely involved in the game, although he had enough time to make one superb turn in the penalty area, but unfortunately he couldn’t help make the breakthrough to find a late winner. It was interesting, and encouraging, however, to see him playing in a central position where he looks far better suited than out wide. Hopefully we’ll start to see the best of Firmino within the coming months.