Simon Mignolet: You’ve been in the job for a few years now. It’s your section, your desk, your department, your responsibility. I mean, deep down you know that you’re not the greatest in the world at your job, but you do alright. Then suddenly you fall ill. A really nasty man-flu that knocks you for six. You’re feeling really sorry for yourself. You have Lempsip, you have Vicks, you have Kleenex (for legitimate, non-sordid purposes this time), and you retire to your lair to recuperate. Yet unbeknownst to you, there’s a rival settling in to your office chair, altering your arse-groove to his, catching the eye of the office beauty instead of you. The b*stard. Then, on the day of the big presentation that you can’t make, he strides in, launches the laptop, and up pops his full perverted internet history. He’s out. Forever. You return the next day to a hero’s welcome. You’re still not great, but nobody cares. You’re the man, compared to ‘him’.
Welcome back Simon. Practice those crosses once in a while, eh? Oh, and good save.
Nathaniel Clyne: He helped to keep a clean sheet. He raided forward a bit more than he has in recent games. He linked well with Hendo in the second half, and created the space for Hendo to whip in some very dangerous crosses. Apart from that he didn’t stand out very much, but as I’ve said before, that may be a good thing from your right-back. I mean, he could be flashy, garish and waving his ‘lad’ all over Anfield, but I’d rather he kept it tucked safely away and was quietly effective (like Steve Finnan for example). If you think differently, let me know, and there are some websites I could point you towards. We all deserve pleasure at Christmas.
Mamadou Sakho: His second game back after his injury, and his first after the absolute mauling he received at Vicarage Road. It was also a rare start for him alongside somebody that wasn’t Martin Skrtel. This may be a key point…the centre-back partnership was extremely solid today, and barely gave the previously deadly Mahrez/Vardy partnership a sniff. I was watching this match on Setanta Sports, who had Curtis ‘St. Patricks Athletic & Middlesbrough’ Fleming as co-commentator. Oh Curtis was having conniptions (that’s a real word, look it up) at Sakho and his willingness to ‘play football’. Oh aye, anytime he opted to do anything that wasn’t a long punt up-field, or a pass back to the keeper to punt long up-field, he was tutting, sniggering and generally being a twat. Forgive me Curtis for having moved on from the 1980’s classic English (or Irish, clearly) mentality of ‘defenders can’t play football’, but they bloody well can, and they bloody well should. Mamadou did, to great effect.
Dejan Lovren: He was my Man Of The Match. Y’see, miracles can come true at Christmas! I mean, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get your PS4 from your parents who have no money, or you’re not going to get a Porsche Carrera from your husband who is a data-entry clerk, but if you close your eyes really tight, wish as hard as you can, and really, really, really want it, you can have a Liverpool player improve beyond all recognition and turn in a performance like that. He didn’t put a foot wrong all match, and nullified the threat of Vardy/Mahrez superbly. I’ve accused Martin Skrtel of ‘bottling it’ against Watford, and if he did, he could be a very sorry boy. If this partnership continues as well as it did today, he won’t be get back in the side for quite a while.
Alberto Moreno: Once more I feel I could copy and past the Patsy Clyne rating and pass it off as that of Bertie Moreno, such is the similarity in the performance of our full-backs.
He helped to keep a clean sheet. He raided forward a bit more than he has in recent games. He linked well with Firmino in the second half, and created the space for Firmino to whip in some very dangerous crosses. Apart from that he didn’t stand out very much, but as I’ve said before, that may be a good thing from your left-back. I mean, he could be flashy, garish and waving his ‘lad’ all over Anfield, but I’d rather he kept it tucked safely away and was quietly effective. If you think differently, let me know, and there are some websites I could point you towards. We all deserve pleasure at Christmas.
” I hope that you have it in you to grab certain teammates by the bollox, shove them up against the wall, and roar into their faces that this isn’t f*cking good enough, with enough passion that their faces get pebble-dashed in Sunderland Spittle”
This was the end of my last review for Jordan Henderson. I’m led to believe that he heeded my advice and that is the real reason why Martin Skrtel and Lucas Leiva were absent today. That is a very tender area, in fairness. Hendo led by example this afternoon with a typical all-action performance which got better as the game progressed. Indeed during the second half he was whipping balls better than a £200 an hour dominatrix madam…at least that’s what I believe the going rate is *ahem*.
It’s fair to say that the Henderson or Milner question has been answered. I like to think that my answer of ‘F*CKING OBVIOUSLY YOU ASS-FLUTE’ would have gotten an A+.
Emre Can: Second balls. That was the focus of my review with Emre last week. I’m not saying he’s a genetic marvel who can handle more than one woman at once (although I wouldn’t put it past him), I’m referring to the ability of Liverpool to win the ball back as soon as possible after it has been cleared. Today that facet of play was improved by exactly 147%. Don’t ask Opta, they don’t even know what that means, the amateurs. Klopp clearly sent the lads out with an explicit instruction to not let a player in a blue shirt turn in any part of the pitch outside of their defensive third. It showed. Liverpool were all over the players who typically set the Leicester breaks in motion. Emre smothered them better than a large lady with EE breasts riding Willie Carson. I’m sorry for the mental picture that has created.
Philippe Coutinho: I have an apology to make. A couple of weeks ago, I selected Philippe in my Fantasy Football team. I’m doing well, in the top 120,000 out of more than 3,500,000. Yet as usual, as soon as I select a Liverpool player, it nullifies their ability. I thought it would be different this time, as myself and Philippe are such good mates. How can I jinx a guy I’m friends with, eh? Surely that’s not possible. Aye, sorry. My next job, ahead of the games on Monday – Wednesday, is to sell Philippe, and release him from my Fantasy Football Death Grip. I fully expect him to score two and set up two more on Wednesday against Sunderland. Of course if you use this information for your own Fantasy Football team, you’ll be to blame for any subsequent failures. Be warned.
Adam Lallana: I was told today that you can’t play Lallana and Firmino together, behind a front-man. They’re too similar. Both love the flicks and tricks, the shimmies and…err….flimmies, the shuffles and…err…snuffles. They’re both lacking pace up front too, to run beyond the front man. On the evidence of the 1st half today, I have to agree. Lallana did shine more than Firmino during that 45′ period (my wife tells me that she’d love a 45′ period, but that’s her sense of humour), but was pretty ineffectual overall. As the team changed shape in the 2nd half, Adam continued to work hard, but to limited effect. The change in the position of Firmino in the 2nd half is probably the most positive thing Adam can take from this match. He’s still got work to do to capture the hearts of the Anfield faithful. That should probably be his New Years Resolution.
“Oi Bobby, I wouldn’t be doing a ‘Thumbs-Up’ near me anytime soon, because I’ll be taking those prissy thumbs and shoving them in thumb-screws. You lethargic, half-arsed, pampered, stupid-hair, tackle-ducking, non-sweating, non-trying, overpaid, Hugh Jackman loving ASSCLOWN”
The above was my cool, calm and perfectly fair review of Bobby F last week, and again at half-time today. I was commentating on this match today (see the full match report here: http://bytheminsport.com/events/362), and I noted that I wasn’t sure that Firmino was even playing in that 1st half. He was invisible, anonymous and non-existent. However a switch in position in the 2nd half, up alongside Benteke, sparked an immediate change. He was more involved, set up the winning goal and suddenly effective. The point I made above in Lallana’s review still stands…I don’t believe that both can play behind a front-man. However, you can play Firmino up front alongside a front-man. Good to know.
Divock Origi: Oh man…what bad luck. Origi got a rare chance to lead the line for Liverpool in the Premier League, and he pulls up lame after 40 minutes. He was having a blinder too, and I am starting to believe that this kid could be the next big thing in football. He caused the Leicester defence all sorts of problems and had Wes Morgan on toast, with extra chutney. Pace, movement and all we need to see is a deadly eye for goal. I commented in the 1st half that a front-two (the new fad in football, for those of you under 16) of Origi and Sturridge excites me. They demonstrated what they could do away at Southampton in the League Cup, and I want to see more. Of course that will need all the suns, moons, stars and Kardashians to align to get them both fit at the same time.
Christian Benteke: Jurgen Klopp had a ‘chat’ with Benteke this week. The details of which will remain a mystery to the national press…unless they read this blog, because I know what was said. Want to know? Alright then, as you’re such good followers, it was:
‘Christian, you’re great. I really love you. I’d like you to come over for Christmas dinner! Ha Ha Ha! You’re such a talent! You’re world class. I’ve always believed in you. Ha Ha Ha! If you don’t start scoring soon, I’ll ensure you end up replacing Lukaku at Everton for the next 10 years, winning nothing. Ha Ha Ha! You’re on your last chance already! Ha Ha Ha!
Klopp knows what he’s doing. Benteke scored the winner.
Lucas Leiva: He came on in the 90th minute. It’s Boxing Day and I’m drunk. Feck off.
Joe Allen: 92nd minute. Feck off…again.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp: He needed a response. His ‘stats’ were being compared to Brendan Rodgers, and no new manager needs that shit. He added an attacker, he altered his tactics at the start of the match to ensure that Liverpool kept the pressure on, and it all worked, apart from actually taking the lead. In the 2nd half he adjusted again to push Bobby F up alongside Big Ben, and this also worked and created a goal.
If you haven’t seen his interview on Sky Sports (the long one), you really should. I’ve watched it and I’m convinced that the club (in playing terms) is in the right hands. He talks an amazing amount of sense, loves what he does, and he reminds me of me. In short, he’s perfect.
Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne). I’m also regularly contributing to ByTheMinSport.com. Finally I’m a co-host for the best weekly Premier League Podcast in the whole world – @ByTheMinEPL Podcast, which can be found on the website. If you’ve read this far, pat yourself on the back. Xxx.