Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool: Player ratings
Liverpool’s final match of 2015 saw the Reds end the year on a high. Another 1-0 win followed the impressive victory over Leicester, with Christian Benteke once again scoring the winning goal to bag all 3 points, sending Klopp’s side up to 7th in the table and just 5 points adrift of a coveted top four spot. It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means- ‘gritty’ would be the best word to describe it, as Liverpool squandered multiple opportunities but ultimately came through with another clean sheet and a hard earned victory. Here’s how I rated our players on the night.
Simon Mignolet- 7/10
Despite his inconsistent performances, Mignolet finished 2015 with 16 clean sheets- more than any other Premier League goalkeeper. He was relatively untroubled on this occasion, but was alert to tip Defoe’s powerful first half striker over the bar, whilst he coped well with Sunderland’s high balls and a misplaced Firmino clearance in his own area.
Nathaniel Clyne- 8/10
This was one of Clyne’s best performances for Liverpool. He has proved an excellent signing thus far, and rarely ever gets beaten. He defended well s ever against Sunderland, whilst he put a terrific cross into the 6 yard box from which Firmino headed straight at Mannone, whilst his crisp, accurate ball to Lallana played a part in the build up to the goal.
Dejan Lovren- 8/10
This man goes from strength to strength at the moment. He’s gone beyond the point of ‘doing his job’, as he is starting to look every bit a £20 million defender. Dominant in the air and composed on the ball, Lovren looks an assured presence at the back, reading danger well and doing the simple things he struggled to do in the past. More of the same please, Dejan.
Mamadou Sakho- 7/10
The Frenchman looks to be forging a strong partnership with Lovren, the two of them keeping 5 clean sheets in 7 outings when paired together at the back. Sakho actually looks the less commanding of the two at the moment, and some of his passes were carelessly misplaced, as though he isn’t quite at 100% sharpness after returning from injury. Hope to see him back to his imperious best in the new year. Fortunate to escape unscathed after a horrid challenge late on from Jeremain Lens.
Alberto Moreno- 7/10
Moreno has become an extremely capable and dependable left back this season, an ever-present in the league since Klopp’s arrival. Constantly got forward to provide width in the first half with some good deliveries into the box, and covered his defensive duties very well as Sunderland went in search of an equaliser later on.
Emre Can- 7/10
It’s very easy to forget that Emre Can is still only 21 years of age when you see him outmuscling and powering past far more experienced players. This was far from a refined performance by the big German, guilty of surrendering possession needlessly on several occasions. However, his work rate and ability to press over 90 minutes were outstanding, helping Liverpool dominate the majority of the game. He can only improve.
Jordan Henderson- 6/10
Henderson remains Liverpool’s best midfielder and is the only one capable of producing those Gerrard-esque cross field passes with great consistency. Like Can, his energy is a vital asset but he was unable to continue after 60 minutes when his recurring heel injury flared up once more. Fingers crossed it’s nothing serious, as his presence is sorely missed when unavailable.
Adam Lallana- 6/10
Much maligned by many for his lack of end product, Lallana conjured the assist for Benteke’s goal with a nonchalant flick into the striker’s path. Some might say it was fortuitous, but I’d prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. Chased back to win possession impressively on several occasions, but needs to be more involved in the game throughout the 90 minutes in an attacking sense.
Roberto Firmino- 7/10
Firmino has been heavily criticised this season for not getting involved in games, but you couldn’t accuse the Brazilian of shying away here. Should have done much better as he mis-controlled Coutinho’s pass early on in a great position, but was very unfortunate to see his superb 25 yard strike tipped on to the post by Mannone. The Italian keeper also kept out Firmino’s powerful header soon after, whilst wasteful finishing from Ibe and Benteke deprived him of two assists in the second half.
Philippe Coutinho- 6/10
Was marked out the game for large periods, unable to find space on the ball. Picked out Firmino with a perfectly weighted pass early on, but was unable to exert his influence throughout the game and opted to shoot from distance when he had runners in better positions to pass to.
Christian Benteke- 7/10
Once again, Benteke came up with the goods, latching on to Lallana’s flick to lift a clinical finish past Mannone for his 7th Liverpool goal. His all round game was much improved in comparison to recent performances, holding the ball up well and linking better with his team mates. Many will choose to focus on his admittedly woeful finish in stoppage time when sent through one-on-one versus Mannone. He should’ve had 4 goals in the past 2 games, but nonetheless deserves credit for two hugely important goals.
Lucas Leiva- 7/10
Replacing the injured Henderson for the final 30 minutes, Lucas put in a professional and disciplined cameo performance, helping see the game out with some crucial interceptions and strong tackling at the base of Liverpool’s midfield.
Jordon Ibe- N/A
Squandered a glorious chance to score late on, skying a wild shot over the cross bar after receiving Firmino’s pass in plenty of space.
Kolo Toure- N/A
Played just the final minute of the game.