Simon Mignolet: Once again Migs had a good game but made one error. That error led to the concession of a goal. At the level that Liverpool Football Club are ‘supposed’ to be aiming for, not alone can you not make these mistakes, you should be doing incredible feats to win your side points – making saves you had no right to make etc. The kind of thing that De Gea, Cech, Courtois do on a regular basis, you know? 6/10.
Mamadou Sakho: Finally restored to the first XI ahead of Dejan ‘Ah here, what the ACTUAL f*ck’ Lovren, and he was superb for the majority of the match. Had a mad five minutes in the second half when he appeared to lose control of his limbs, leading to one memorable moment when he squirmed on the ground like a Downtown-LA Breakdancer while Norwich City attacked. His mere presence actually made Martin Skrtel play better (more of that in a moment), and the back three worked pretty well before it was altered to allow Brendan to play an incredible 15 nippy forward in one team. 7/10
Martin Skrtel: Solid. No boo-boo’s. Looked much, much, much, much, much, much happier to be playing alongside Sakho and not Lovren. Kept things simple, tussled with Cameron Jerome well all match and kept Jerome quiet for the most part. Good passing from the back – simple but effective. Like Martin himself really. Sometimes. On a good day. 6/10
Emre Can: A return to the right of a back three for Emre, who now finds himself behind Lucas in the defensive midfield pecking order. The future of German football apparently. Right-o. Did well for the most part, drove forward when Liverpool were on the front foot and the back three only had one to mark. I mean, he still can’t do anything really good, but he looks the part. If the part is that of a large German pretending to be a top class footballer. 6/10.
Nathaniel Clyne: A return to form for Patsy, who was solid in defence and a constant threat up the right-wing. Had a flashing drive fly just wide in the first half. Didn’t manage to pick apart the Norwich defence, but then again he had plenty of company in that department. The role of right-wing-back suits him as it frees him up to attack more than a traditional right-back role would. However he does need to improve on his final ball if this is the case. 7/10.
Alberto Moreno: The LFC Man Of The Match for me, Bertie was superb all game. Raiding down the left, countless quality crosses into the Norwich box, the vast majority of which picked out teammates in dangerous positions. A sumptuous assist for the opening goal, with a volleyed first time 40 yard pass into the path of Danny Ings. Just as the RWB role suits Patsy Clyne, the LWB role suits Bertie even more. A rare bright spark from this game, I’m looking forward to seeing Moreno develop in this role as the season progresses – assuming Brendan doesn’t decide to play a new 0-8-2 formation next week. 8/10.
Lucas Leiva: Much better from Lucas who performed his understated DM role to perfection. Solid distribution of the ball, always finding a man in space, keeping the team moving after getting his foot in and winning back possession. He’s normally never noticed doing this job, but considering the performance of one particular LFC midfielder (see the next entry), he stood out like a superhero in a lunatic asylum. 7/10.
James Milner: Holy Jesus, Mary & Joseph and don’t forget the donkey, Milner was BRUTAL today. Totally lived up to his summer pricetag….FREE. Everything he did was off. His passing was sloppy, his dead-ball delivery was atrocious, his decision-making was bizarre. Oh, and he was Captain. Super. Jordan Rossiter was superb midweek against Bordeaux, and the fact that Milner stayed on the pitch for the full 90 minutes is an injustice the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Thierry Henry cheated Ireland out of a World Cup Finals slot. Yeah, I feel that strongly about it. Milner OUT. Rossiter IN. Or Can. Or Lucas. Or Lallana. Or anybody with a pair of boots. 3/10.
Phillipe Coutinho: Oh Phillipe. It’s hard to criticise a player who has so much promise, skill, and threat, but today really wasn’t your day. In fairness, about 75% of your 154,961 shots on goal were close, but none of them were good enough. Now we come to the real issue – THAT miss. You were clear on goal, you had Danny Ings free on your left. You had one defender who actually needed to be in two places at once and decided to be in neither. You had a goalkeeper in an open goal, the Kop behind him, the expectation on your shoulders, the chance to kickstart our season, the hopes of millions in your hands…and you BOTTLED it. Like, totally and completely bottled it. I’m on record saying that Coutinho + Goals > Hazard. Right now the equation reads: Coutinho + Current Finishing Prowess < Mark Walters. Harsh? Maybe, but I’m RAGING right now. 5/10.
Christian Benteke: Big Ben looked…BIG. Static. Immobile (no, not the Italian fella). He had Sturridge alongside him for the first time, and it was like chalk and cheese. I fear that Brendan has invested £30m+ on a Plan B from the bench. A scorer of great goals, but not a great goalscorer, and really not a mobile forward to fit in with the kind of football that Brendan wants to play. Watch the performance of Sturridge (playing for the first time in 6 months and clearly not match-fit), and Danny Ings, and compare them to Big Ben. Yep, depressing, innit? All that money….5/10.
Daniel Sturridge: WELCOME BACK! Oh man, it’s good to have you back buddy. Completely ran out of steam after 50 minutes, but showed more than enough in the first half to demonstrate exactly how important he is going to be in the future for LFC. A delightful backheel flick almost set up James Milner early in the game, and he was a constant menace to the Norwich defence. His touch was rusty at times, and he really should have scored with a first-time shot, but you have to make allowances for a player back from such a long layoff. It’s my blog and I’m going to do just that. So there. 7/10.
Danny Ings. Welcome to Anfield young man. Unpack, make yourself comfortable, because after that second half display, you’re going to be here for quite a long time. Superb. A sublime finish, a live-wire performance, and a will to win that made others look outright lazy. Ings and Sturridge excite me as a potential partnership. I mean, really excites me. I’m almost trembling typing these words the thought of it excites me so much. Mobile, quick, good finishing. *Sigh*. Would have had MOTM except he played 45 mins, but was deffo MOTH (H = Half) 7/10.
Adam Lallana: Did well when he came on. Some good flicks, tricks, jinks and dinks. Not quite up to his heroics against Bordeaux, but a performance that I believe will become very common in the season ahead – off the bench on the off-chance that one of his tricks will work. 6/10.
Roberto Firmino: Decent cameo from the Brazilian, who caused Norwich many problems when he came on. Looked hungry for the ball, willing to try new things to open up the defence. Can consider himself unlucky not to have started the match, particularly when you see how Milner played in his stead. 6/10.
Brendan Rodgers: Played two up front: CHECK. Played Moreno as LWB: CHECK. Played Sakho instead of Lovren: CHECK. Played Sturridge as soon as he was fit: CHECK. I’m not going to have a go at Brendan for this result. He did what he needed to do. He made the changes he needed to make. The players left him down, particularly those who couldn’t find that second goal that would have killed off/won the game. Of course, he’ll still get the stick, but this performance was more like the old ‘Rodgers Liverpool’ from two seasons ago. Not the same, but a damn sight closer than what we saw so far this season. Keep it going Brendan, and cross your fingers that you get a bit more luck. 7/10.