Superb. Did absolutely nothing wrong. He came when he needed to (like the best porn barons), and saved the shots he faced, which were few and far between. Did the Klopp boll*cking work, or has the insistence that he doesn’t want a new keeper work? I don’t really care, whatever works is good for me.
That’s more like it. Remember that this Liverpool defence were facing Bojangles, Astronaut, HIPS DON’T LIE and Afellay, yet he was solid, composed and able to get forward sporadically. He lost Lovren alongside him yet never panicked. This was a team playing for their future, and in no doubt that they were playing for their future. If this becomes the norm, I’m a happy bunny.
Wow. Just WOW. Thrown into the proverbial deep end and he came out swimming like Michael Phelps. If you have barely played all season and you’re chucked in to the team away at Stoke City in a League Cup Semi-Final, you could be forgiven for sinking like a stone. Yet KOLO rose to the challenge and kept his hamstring when all around him were losing theirs….until the last 5 minutes when his cramped up. Superb.
GAH! He was having another strong performance and was barely troubled until an innocuous slide tackle led to a ‘twang’. He has been having his strongest run of form in a Liverpool shirt too, so this is a real blow for Dejan, who looked devastated as he limped off. It’s now a race between himself and Skrtel to see who can get back to fitness first to partner KOLO/LUCAS/HANSEN/LAWRENSON/HYYPIA/CARRA…whoever is available.
A quiet night for Bertie, but that’s OK by me when a clean sheet is the result. He threatened in an attacking sense early in the first half, but from there his attacking presence declined. His defensive performance was possibly his strongest yet for the mighty redmen, so for that he gets a bonus point.
From the ridiculous to the sublime. From Upton Park to The Brittania. Where Lucas was a figure of fun on Saturday, he became a rock and a leader in this match. He started deep in midfield alongside ‘Poor Joe’, but was plunged into an unfamiliar CB role in the 1st half. Stoke clearly targeted the CB partnership of KOLO/Lucas in the 2nd half, yet he stood firm, stood tall(er then he really is), and led Liverpool to a clean sheet in a cup semi-final (1st leg). This is why he dons the Captains armband, and why he deserves to wear it…sometimes…
Superb. All action. All energy. All encompassing. All terrain. All we wanted to see. Warrior.
IT WAS AN ASSIST. I mean, he ‘meant’ it. I don’t care if you disagree with me, I’ve watched it over 10 times, I’ve been watching football all of my goddamn life, and I’m telling you he meant it. And as a result, it’s one of the finest, cockiest assists I’ve ever seen. He could have swept that ball into the net, he could have taken all the glory, but instead he gave the keeper ‘the eyes’, and lets young Ibe take the glory. It’s the kind of thing that Xavi would do. Joe is Welsh, did you know that?
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….sorry, that’s just my frustration showing (I’ll tuck it in). This was looking more like the Coutinho we know and love. Flicks and tricks were working. His partnership with Firmino was evident for the first time in weeks (I’m not going to point out why, I’ll just leave that to your imagination…), and then WHAMMY! HIS HAMMY! Right, we all need to hope and pray to whatever it is you believe in that he’s fit for Arsenal next Wednesday. I suspect we need a miracle.
Finally a positive contribution from Adam Lallana. For too long we’ve seen some nice turns, some nice flicks, some nice tricks and some nice di….sorry, my internet history kicked in there, without any real results. Tonight however he created the only goal (ish…), and showed what ‘could’ be. He’s on a 4 month audition for Herr Klopp until the end of the season. Time to shine Adam.
Better. Lots better. Without having a ‘tree trunk’ ahead of him, and with his Brazilian buddy buzzing around him, he looked far more at home. The boy has potential, but as with all of us he needs the right environment in which to thrive. My ‘thriving’ environment involves beer and sexy ladies. My search continues.
Jordon Ibe: MATCHWINNER. Called on to replace the ‘irreplaceable’ Coutinho, he came, he saw, he conquered. His pace scares opponents, and as he matures and gains experience, his match maturity will make him an outstanding player. Unlike Sterling, this is one player that Liverpool need to hold on to forever.
James Milner: Back from injury and back with a bang. After the loss of Lovren, Liverpool were exposed. Lucas dropped back but to protect him Liverpool needed to stop the threat at source. James managed that extremely well, and also managed to cause a threat up front. It may be harsh to suggest that it’s only in an injury crisis that Milner will shine so I won’t do that. Hang on, I already did? Oh shit…..
Christian Benteke: He came on. He jumped a bit. He ran a bit. He earned obscene amounts of money. Fin.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp: Woah. We all loved the passion of Klopp when he first arrived on Merseyside, but am I the only one a bit worried about him tonight? His post-match interview was a bit….on the edge. If you think about it, he’s been chucked right into the deep-end: Inheriting a squad that is not his, plunged into a season as hectic as any in English football, injuries mounting quicker than on the front-line in most war zones…the poor bugger. Another three hammy’s twanged tonight. He’s probably going to have to play himself away at Exeter City on Friday night. Lead from the front Jurgen.
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.