Rubin Kazan v Liverpool: LFC Player Ratings

Simon MignoletSimon Mignolet: A very comfortable night for Simon Mignolet. So comfortable in fact that I wasn’t sure whether it was Migs in goal or ‘The Mandarin Menace’ Adam Bogdan. Then, midway through the second half, when Kazan were starting to exert a little bit of pressure for the first time, a simple cross into the box was dinked in, Simon sprinted out to claim it, dropped it with nobody around him, and then gathered it again. Yep, that was definitely Simon playing. A clean sheet though, and if you think I’m being harsh in mentioning that incident, you’re probably right, but it’s all I can really recall him doing. Kazan didn’t have a single shot on target. That’s a good thing. 7/10.

Nathaniel ClyneNathaniel Clyne: I’m not a religious man. That’s not to say I’m against religion in general, but I do believe that it’s failure to be ‘Ronseal’ is why this world is in such a sad state. If religion just ‘did exactly what it says on the tin’, then the world would be a much happier place. It doesn’t though, and the world is a bit of a shit-hole, full of shitheads, and…back to the football. I do pray however (to the footballing Gods, naturally), that what we saw from Patsy on Thursday is the future for this team. Thanks to the dominant work of all ten outfield players, Nathaniel Clyne spent most of the evening as an auxiliary winger, supporting Jordon Ibe, and causing havoc. Early in the second half another raid up the right by Patsy saw him send in a dangerous cross that found his counterpart from the left-back spot, who lashed wide. RB crossing for LB? With a clean sheet? Please God, this is the future. 8/10.

Dejan LovrenDejan Lovren: Putrid, Flatulent, LOL-tastic, Calamitous, Pungent, Stupefying and Boneheaded. These are words that I have used to rate Dejan in the not too distant past. However, as we are now learning, Jurgen Klopp is in fact a Warlock with magical mystical powers, and they are starting to make Dejan Lovren look like a good player. That trick is more impressive than anything that Dynamo Magician kid can produce. All credit to Lovren, he was solid, dependable and worked well with his defensive partners. Was it good enough to solidify a run in the first team? Hell no, but if he is called upon in future, hopefully it won’t cause me to reach for the bottle of Jameson Whiskey out of sheer instinct. 7/10.

Mamadou SakhoMamadou Sakho: After 61 minutes of this fairly low-profile game (in the history of LFC, that is), something momentous occurred. Mamadou Sakho became Captain of Liverpool Football Club as James Milner was hooked. Take note of this moment, as you will be able to tell your grandchildren about it in years to come, after Mamadou goes on to become one of the greatest leaders in the history of our great club, lifting numerous Premier League and Champions League trophies over his magnificent Mohican. What do you mean that’s a high bar to be setting him? Have you not SEEN this man play? He’s a born legend. Due to a certain Norn Irish man, he was almost like one of those artists that went unheralded in their own lifetime, but sold paintings for millions after their death (how galling must that be by the way…). Thankfully Herr Klopp knows what he has – he has the future of Liverpool, the future of football, the future of humanity itself. 9/10.

Alberto MorenoAlberto Moreno: Have you decided what you want for Christmas yet? Yes, I know it’s too early, but the John Lewis Christmas advert is out, it made me cry, and now I’ve been brainwashed. Bastards. Anyway, if you haven’t yet sent your list to the North Pole for Santa to read, please put this at the top of your list: ‘An end product for Alberto Moreno in an attacking sense’. They say that they can do anything in the North Pole, so if we all ask for this, then come January, Bertie could turn into the next Cafu/Roberto Carlos/Jon Flanagan/John Arne Riise (when he was good). That’s all that is missing at this stage – the potential in this boy is immense. 7/10.

Joe AllenJoe Allen: Now that Joe’s secret is out, he’s stubbornly refusing to remove the disguise, sorry, beard. Jurgen has forgiven him for his attempted deception, but as one final punishment he sent Joe into Russia during winter, possibly hoping that he’d learn the same kind of lessons as Napoleons troops learned in 1812 (Google it and learn something new today). It’s fair to say however that Joe came out of Russia in considerably better shape than the cheese-eating surrender monkeys (to all my French readers, I’m only kidding, this blog takes the piss out of everybody). Joe was….GOOD. No, don’t hit the ‘back’ button, bear with me. In a team that is as dominant as Liverpool were on Thursday, he can be very effective in nullifying the minimal threat of the opposition, and in prompting and probing with his passing from deep. This game suited him down to the ground. Good for you Joe. 7/10. 

Emre CanEmre Can: Jackie looks like such a nice boy. Perfect hair, perfect teeth, nice skin, always turned out well. Don’t let that exterior fool you though, hiding within Emre Can is a beast struggling to break free (kind of like that Zuul fella in Sigourney Weavers fridge in Ghostbusters). As this match wore on, and Liverpool’s dominance grew stronger, the snarling beast within Emre started to take over. He was barging into people, kicking people, and generally leaving Russians on the turf weeping for their mommies. One particular incident saw him challenge for a loose ball with two opponents, which he won, and left both on the ground. One was holding his head, the other was on his mobile phone calling Vladimir Putin for back-up. I fear that at times a red card may not be too far away with Emre, but to hell with it – FREE THE BEAST. 7/10

Jordan IbeJordon Ibe: ‘OOJ’, licence to thrill. Boy did he thrill on Thursday night. By far the clear Man Of The Match in a dominant Liverpool performance, Jordon proved that he is indeed back, in the view of this writer, the man with the golden pun. There are a few players that seem to have benefited from the managerial change, but none more so than Ibe. Whereas a few weeks ago he looked like a lost, shocked, mistreated puppy wandering the wings of Anfield, unsure whether he should chase after the ball or run away from it, he’s now a diamond, forever tearing at opponents, making them face the spectre of annihilation at the hands of a 19-year old. I haven’t seen a display of dribbling that impressive since I saw Halle Berry emerge from the sea in Die Another Day. 9.5/10.  

James MilnerJames Milner: See this picture of James? He’s pointing at something. He’s pointing at central midfield. He’s pointing at his contract with Liverpool that he signed with Brendan Rodgers. He’s pointing at his hopes and dreams of playing in central midfield. He’s pointing at the past. James left the ‘Oil Baron XI’ because he didn’t want to be known as a ‘utility-man’, handy in many roles, a master of none. Yeah, that’s gone well James, eh? I believe that the fog is lifting for a lot of Liverpool fans, who are starting to realise that ‘running a lot’ is not exactly a panacea for everything wrong with the team. We now have a situation where other players are running just as much as James, but are actually producing the goods to match. Over to you Mr. Milner, but I’d hurry up if I were you, as I reckon you’re close to losing your position in the first team. 6/10.

Philippe CoutinhoRoberto FirminoRoberto Firmino: Don’t be confused, there’s a reason that I’ve put a picture of both Philippe and Bobby F together for this review. Did you not think that what we saw from Firmino on Thursday night was eerily similar to what Philippe has been producing for Liverpool for the past couple of seasons? That’s meant as a significant compliment to Bobby F by the way. He was majestic. Flicks, tricks, shimmies, shammies, wibblies, wobblies and wonders. His flick to release Jordon Ibe for the winner was sublime. However now that he has matched the magic of his Brazilian buddies build up play, he now needs to start chipping in with goals to keep pace with Philippe. Two goals in his last 1 game, don’t you know. Oh, and stop for a moment to thank the footballing Gods that we have both of them. How spoiled are we, eh?  8/10.

Christian BentekeChristian Benteke: Ah yes, now THAT is how you lead the line away from home in a European tie. Hell, forget a European tie, that is how you lead the line away from home in ANY game. Superb. Strong. Skilled. Silky. Saucy. Sexy. I’m running out of ‘S’ words, but I think you get my point. Didn’t have many clear-cut chances throughout the game, but his presence and the problems he gave the opposition created space for others to revel in. His hold-up play was a particular highlight. Either he’s really, really good, or Liverpool have invented a Velcro kit for Big Ben to wear – that ball just stuck to him almost every time. Just imagine this team if Sturridge gets fit *swoons*. 8/10.  

Substitutes: 

LucasLucas Leiva: Close your eyes. No, wait! You can’t read this if you do that. Feck sake. Anyway, think back to the last three seasons. Do you remember? The goals, the drama, the joy, the frustration. The insane inability of the manager to see the bloody massive problem on the pitch that was unfolding in front of him and to make a substitution to fix it before it bit us on the bloody arse….and breathe. How incredibly refreshing to see Herr Klopp spot that Kazan were starting to come into the game a bit more, starting to exert a bit of pressure, and that Joe Allen was one of the DM’s on the pitch. So off came Bobby F, on came Lucas, and the fire was extinguished. Oh how simple this game can be sometimes. Lucas did what Lucas does. 7/10.

Adam LallanaAdam Lallana: Liverpool had made the breakthrough, had their opponents on the ropes, and a second goal would kill the game. Jurgen hooked his Captain and threw on Adam Lallana. That’s a big compliment to Adam. It didn’t work, but it’s still a big compliment. Right now, we have Benteke up front with three players to play behind him. We have five players fighting for those spots: Philippe, Bobby F, Lallana, Milner, Ibe. I’m not even throwing Sturridge into that mix. That’s an embarrassment of riches. Good job we sold Raheem Sterling last summer, I’d hate to see him rotting in the reserves right now. Wait, actually…… 7/10.

Martin SkrtelMartin Skrtel: This was funny. Seconds remained, Liverpool were deep in the Kazan half, the Russians had given up, and Jurgen decided that we need another CB on the pitch, so he threw on Martin in place of Emre Can. It made me think that Jurgen Klopp has Irish heritage – to be sure, to be sure (see Frenchies, I can take the piss out of my own nationality too). N/A

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp Undefeated. Three wins in a row. A win away in Europe for the first time since 2012. He’s transformed Jordon Ibe into Raheem Sterling without all the wankiness. He’s helped Dejan Lovren keep a clean sheet. When he’s finished with football, we should make him President Of The World. I love him. 9/10.

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