After the frustrating 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace, followed by a 2 week-long international break, Liverpool needed to bounce back quickly. They did so in emphatic style, thumping Man City 4-1 at the Etihad in a simply sensational team performance. It was arguably the best football Liverpool have played since the 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal back in the 2013/14 season. With brilliant performances all over the park, inspired by Jurgen Klopp’s tactical intelligence and infectious enthusiasm, here’s how I rated our players on the day.
Simon Mignolet- 8/10
There were a couple of nervy moments for our Belgian keeper, as if often the case. His distribution was questionable at times, and there were instances of miscommunication with his centre backs. However, he made an absolutely vital recovery save from Aguero following Milner’s horribly undercooked back pass. Mignolet kept the score at 3-1, but had he conceded the game would have shifted momentum in Man City’s favour. It was a crucial moment. For the rest of the game, he was relatively untroubled and not to blame for Aguero’s superbly placed finish in the first half.
Nathaniel Clyne- 8/10
What Clyne lacked in care and precision with his final ball, he made up for in his defensive performance. He had Sterling in his back pocket all game long, containing him with ease down the right flank, matching him with pace and energy. Also made a superb clearance under pressure to deny Sterling at the back post in the first half from a dangerous De Bruyne cross. Solid, reliable and no nonsense stuff.
Dejan Lovren- 8/10
Lovren has big boots to fill in the absence of the injured Sakho, and with much to prove to Liverpool fans, he stepped up to the plate on this occasion. Despite one or two nervy moments, it was dominant and accomplished defensive display by Lovren, making important interceptions and strong challenges throughout. If he can perform like this against arguably the best team in the league, he can revive his Liverpool career under the guidance of Klopp, who appears to have confidence in the Croatian. Keep it up, Dejan.
Martin Skrtel- 9/10
Aside from the error which saw Skrtel give the ball away in the buildup to Aguero’s goal, this was one of Skrtel’s best performances for a long time. He was powerful in the air, made countless clearances and interventions, keeping a potent Man City attack well at bay. He capped it all off with a thunderous volley to put the game to bed at 4-1- a superb finish for any player, let alone a centre half.
Alberto Moreno- 8/10
Much like Clyne, Moreno coped admirably with the threat of Man City’s pace out wide, ensuring Jesus Navas had a minimal impact on the game. His defensive positioning was excellent, and he is quickly proving that under Jurgen Klopp, he is more than capable of being a reliable presence in an orthodox left back role. Moreno also got forward well as usual with his boundless energy, and was involved in the build up to the third goal, starting a slick passing move on the left wing.
Lucas Leiva- 8/10
Lucas is playing his best football of his Liverpool career to date, and has become a key figure of Klopp’s side. Here, he provided the defensive solidity in midfield which allowed his attack-minded team mates the platform to counter attack at will. Lucas was always ready to receive the ball in deep positions and distribute with accuracy and pace. A quietly efficient and professional performance.
Emre Can- 8/10
Can’s form has dipped slightly of late with a series of slightly sloppy performances. On this occasion he was back to his very best, helping dominate the midfield battle against Fernando and Yaya Toure with his physicality in the challenge and constant pressing, harrying the opposition into mistakes. His backheel to Coutinho in the buildup to Firmino’s goal was an outstanding piece of skill, showing his creative ability to go along with his off the ball attributes.
James Milner- 7/10
There was one horrible moment when Milner almost single handedly let Man City right back into the game with a terribly under hit back pass into the path of Sterling, only to be bailed out by an excellent Mignolet save. Aside from this moment of madness, it was one of Milner’s better performances this season. His energetic pressing was important in setting the tempo for Liverpool’s full-throttle performance which unsettled his former side. Milner also put some excellent free kick deliveries into the box from out wide.
Adam Lallana- 8/10
It would be difficult for Lallana to play much better than this without scoring or assisting a goal. He was fantastic throughout; a blend of individual skill and relentless work rate, with some superb linkup play with his attacking midfield accomplices. He has become integral to Klopp’s philosophy and looks to have nailed down a starting spot with the most consistent run of form in his Liverpool career to date. Now he needs to add the end product on a regular basis.
Philippe Coutinho- 9/10
Another simply sensational individual performance for the Brazilian who has refound his confidence and goal scoring ability under Jurgen Klopp. He dispossessed Sagna before feeding Firmino with a well timed through ball for the first goal, and scored for the third league game in a row with a cool finish through Joe Hart’s legs for 2-0, latching on to Firmino’s pass. He now has 4 goals in the past 5 meetings with Man City and 5 goals in the league already this season, matching his best total. He then set up the third, laying a pass onto Firmino for a simple finish. He ran the game throughout, constantly pressing and causing havoc for City’s defenders. The only disappointment was to see him leave the field with a hamstring issue- hopefully it was only a minor problem.
Roberto Firmino- 9/10
Starting up front in preference to Benteke, Klopp has put enormous faith in the £29 million man and it paid off here in emphatic fashion. Firmino was a menace, providing the cross from which Mangala opened the scoring with an own goal. Firmino then made an excellent driving run through the heart of Man City’s defence, before sliding an inch-perfect pass into Coutinho for the second, before tapping in his first Liverpool goal for 3-0. He could’ve had a hat-trick if it weren’t for Hart making some fine saves. Firmino’s movement, creativity and defensive work rate were phenomenal, showing why we needed to stay patient with him. Now we know what we paid £29 million for, and this is just the start. What a player we have.
Jordon Ibe- 8/10
Replacing the injured Coutinho after 68 minutes, Ibe was an instant threat on the left wing, beating Sagna numerous times with his pace and trickery. Helped Liverpool sustain a constant attacking impetus with his driving runs on the counter attack late on.
Christian Benteke- 7/10
Should’ve had himself a goal when set through one-on-one, but delayed his finish and was denied by Joe Hart. Provided a strong presence up front and held the ball up well, also winning the header for Skrtel to volley in the fourth goal.
Kolo Toure- N/A
When you can afford to bring on Kolo for the last few minutes in midfield, you know it’s been a good day at the office.