Simon Mignolet: As Liverpool battled the 12th best team in Russia right now, Simon Mignolet pondered the meaning of life. What’s it all about? Why are we here? What’s the bloody point? I suspect that Simon is a good deal wiser today, for he had the vast majority of an hour and a half undisturbed to ponder such deep questions. He was rudely disturbed from his philosophical musings when Devic smacked the ball past him and into the net at the Kop end. This annoyed Simon, who felt he was on the verge of a Zen breakthrough moment, and was about to achieve true enlightenment. Instead, Simon achieved a fine save a few minutes later, to keep Liverpool only one goal behind. I can now exclusively reveal that Simon actually discovered the meaning of life during the second half when he had sod all to do. Want to know what it is? I’ll tell you later in this piece…7/10.
Nathaniel Clyne: Frequent readers of this blog will know that my nickname for Nathaniel is ‘Patsy’. You all thought it was a play on ‘Patsy Clyne’ (if you don’t know who that is, ask your Mum, your Dad or Google). Alas, you are all wrong. Here’s a dictionary definition of ‘Patsy’:
Martin Skrtel: It’s kind of hard to rank a player like Martin Skrtel after a match like that. He didn’t really have much to do, and what he did he did…averagely (is that a word?). The conceded goal was clearly an error by Clyne, but did Martin really have to leave him one-on-one with the attacker and 10 yards away? Am I being picky? Am I being harsh? Am I asking too many questions? I’ll stop now. 7/10.
Mamadou Sakho: Superb. Excellent. Accurate. Composed. Expansive. Steady. Flawless. When given a solid, sensible role as a centre-back in a back four, suddenly Sakho shines. I would say it’s not rocket science but this kind of common sense was as rare as rocking horse shit for two years. Jurgen has made a very simple realisation: Skrtel and Sakho are the best two centre backs in the squad and that’s the way it will stay (until January comes and he can go shopping…to replace Skrtel). Sakho is here to stay people, get used to it, enjoy it and wallow in it. About f*cking time. And yes, that is almost word for word what I wrote after Spurs. I added in ‘Flawless’. It’s all still relevant. 9/10.
Alberto Moreno: I find I’m in the same boat with Bertie as I was for Martin Skrtel. He did alright. He didn’t look as vulnerable as he did at Spurs at times, but then again he played about 75 minutes with no real defending to do. He tried to get forward, but his end product was poor. He’s not alone in that regard either. I’ve decided to rate him I’m going to put the numbers 6/7/8 into a bag and draw his rating at random. Hang on while I do this…..Oooh, look, he gets a seven! I’ve said that out loud in the style of Len Goodman from Strictly Come Dancing. 7/10.
Joe Allen: Wanna know a secret? Alright, I’ll spill. Jurgen Klopp didn’t know who Joe Allen was until 25 minutes into last nights game. He didn’t recognise him with the beard y’see. Joe was ‘incognito’. Jurgen is struggling with injuries as we all know, and he threw this young fella he didn’t recognise into the fray from the start, to see what he had to work with. At precisely 25 minutes and 37 seconds into the game last night, Jurgen turned to his bench, ashen-faced, and proclaimed ‘Mein Gott, das ist Joe F*cking Allen. Womit hab ich das verdient? (That’s ‘What have I done to deserve this’ in German). Once he recovered from the shock, he hooked him at half-time. Poor Joe. 5/10.
Emre Can: You gotta love the Germans, eh? So efficient. So logical. Of course the first goal under our new German manager was going to be scored by a German! Should have bet the mortgage on it in hindsight. Emre played his second game in a week in a central-midfield role. He’s starting to grow into it too. His now customary power/pace/passion was married with some nice passing, a bit of vision, and of course a goal. He gambled when the cross came into the box – note that nobody else bothered their arse. He got his reward. He’s going to have to make do with ‘temporary’ midfield partners for a while until Captain Hendo is back. I also cannot confirm nor deny the rumour that he helped Klopp make the half-time substitution by flushing Joe Allen’s head in the toilet and delivering a wedgie so devastating that the medical staff at Liverpool are still searching for Joe Allen’s undercrackers. 8/10
Adam Lallana: I said the following after the Spurs game about Adam: “*Sigh* Yet another ‘almost’ performance from Adam who is looking far more suited to the lower level of the Europa League Group Stage than the hurly burly of the Premier League. Which is odd, as he impressed in the Premier League first. Anyhoo, Adam repeatedly got himself into good positions today, but repeatedly failed to create anything really dangerous”. I’d like to correct that statement – he doesn’t look that suited to the Europa League either, based on last nights performance. The rest of that statement is still very pertinent though. And I’ll remind you of my ‘time-warp’ theory on Adam too. If you don’t know what that is, read previous blogs. Heh, that’s shameless. All credit to me. 6/10.
James Milner: Do you work in a company, an organisation, or have anything to do with a group of people in any capacity? If so, you’ll recognise the James Milner in that group. It’s the person who is always on time (sometimes even early), never misses a day due to illness (particularly never a Friday or a Monday), gets the work done, volunteers for extra work, helps out other departments/colleagues, makes the tea without moaning and is an all-round good egg. Yet when you stop and think about this person, you can’t quite work out what it is that they do…If they weren’t there, would anything change? Maybe everything would trundle on regardless, and nobody would notice. Or maybe the whole organisation would fall apart, resulting in chaos, in-fighting, bare knuckle brawls in the car park and national media attention. Like that cog in that machine you took apart when you were a kid; You had no idea what it did, but when you took it out you didn’t really know what would happen as a result. James ‘Cog’ Milner gets 6/10.
“POTENTIALLY CONTROVERSIAL MOMENT ALERT: If Philippe doesn’t start upping his contribution (by that I mean effective assists/goals), his position in this team is under threat. Today, when the LFC squad was seriously depleted by injury, all eyes were on Philippe to step up and put in the kind of performance required to lead the team through tough times. It didn’t happen (again). He’s an undoubted talent, with flicks, tricks, shimmies and goals that sometimes take the breath away. However the key word there is ‘sometimes’. He needs to deliver consistently or else he’s in danger of being moved out of the team for someone less ‘flashy’ but more dynamic for this new team. The pressure is on Phillipe, time to deliver.”
Roberto Firmino is fit again. I’ll just leave that thought with you for a while 6/10.
Divock Origi: I’m struggling to find a good nickname for Divock. Today I’m going to try ‘The Origi-nal Divy Rascal’. Again, comments are welcome, and I’ll take anyone on when it comes to a swearing match. Anyway, I felt that Origi struggled last night up front on his own against a mass defence, which is to be expected from such a young player. The inter-play and fluidity required between him and Lallana/Coutinho et al just wasn’t there, but again, that’s to be expected. So what did I expect? What I got I suppose. Good assist for the goal too. He’s looking every inch the reserve striker that Liverpool need if I’m being honest. Wait, I’m always honest. Honest. 7/10.
Lucas Leiva: Let’s play a game of ‘Compare & Contrast’ shall we? Right, compare the 1st half attacking chances for Rubin Kazan when Joe Allen was playing the holding role in midfield. Now contrast that with the 2nd half attacking chances for Rubin Kazan when Lucas was playing the holding role in midfield. Compare your desire to go for a pint with Joe Allen, and contrast that with the desire to go for a pint with Lucas. Finally, compare the girly-boy stick legs on Joe Allen, and contrast with the firm, toned, muscular leg pistons on Lucas. This particular player review is dedicated to Chris Clark. If you listen to the ByTheMinSport.com EPL Podcast, you’ll understand this dedication. 8/10.
Christian Benteke: Introduced in place of Coutinho and designed to give us more presence up front alongside The Origi-nal Divy Rascal (I’m sticking with this for a while, now shurrup). Didn’t quite work out for Big Ben, who was unlucky when a fine effort struck the post, but who I remain convinced is a scorer of great goals, not a great goal scorer. There’s a big difference. Compare Matt Le Tissier to Alan Shearer. One now works for the swanky show-off organisation with all the flash gizmos, and one does the dirty work to get the job done on a basic platform. See? Even in retirement your choices/paths reflect who you really are. 6/10.
Roberto Firmino: Thrown on with 15 minutes to go, showed glimpses of his potential with one particularly saucy and sexy turn, and….nowt much else to report really. Good to have him back though. It’s nice to have options isn’t it? Except when it comes to reading football blogs. There are no others available. Trust me. 6/10.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Some say he’s playing the same team in every match as he wants to really get to know what he has at his disposal. Some say he’s playing the same team in every match as he has no bloody choice. I’m saying that his masterful incredible undefeated streak continues apace, and his coat last night was sensational. I want one. You could carry a group of small children in that hood. Or beer. Or food. Or Jordon Ibe. 7/10.
Oh yeah, The Meaning of Life. That’s easy…It’s to watch football. Obviously. Don’t overthink it.