Liverpool 2-1 Burnley: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

 

Yes, I know there’s been another gap between ratings, but there’s another good reason for that…the work I had done with the lads before the Spurs game was nowhere near enough. I had foolishly thought that my motivational speeches and psychological guidance would see the lads flourish against the big teams AND the rest…but following the Leicester debacle, I realised my folly, and was back over to Melwood quicker than Jurgen could say ‘I want a refund, you cheeky Irish git’…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

One of my tips to Jurgen was to proclaim to the world that he didn’t need a new goalkeeper this summer, and here’s the logic:

  1. It will make the incumbent keepers feel a bit better about themselves, and should result in a boost of self-esteem, which would lead to a boost in performances
  2. If you publicly state that you’re looking for a new keeper, then every sodding keeper on planet earth will have an extra ‘0’ added onto their price tag and weekly wage demands.

Makes sense, right?

Simon took to the field on Sunday with his self-esteem at record new highs, which led to an unfortunate incident pre-match when Ragnar Klavan accidentally kicked his boot across the dressing room, leading to Migs roaring into his face “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the king of the world! I’m the greatest! I’m the glorious lovechild of Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks following a saucy encounter in a laboratory in Brussels in the late 80’s”.

Nothing like a bit of self-confidence, eh?

Thankfully Migs backed up his words on the pitch with a flawless display against a team that thought they had sussed out his (and his teammates) weaknesses. Long ball after long ball was humped towards the edge of Mignolet’s box, but time and again he came strongly (ooo-errr missus!), to fist cleanly (now stop it…) away.

I’m working on deflating his ego just a tad this week, after he tried to chat up nine of the other players wives with the same chat up line. ‘Belgium is famous for it’s waffles, do ya wanna taste my batter?’

Give me strength…

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

You may have noticed that Patsy has quite a bit of ink, pretty much from the neck down is covered in ‘body art’…or that’s what he wants you to think.

The truth is that Patsy is a bit, how shall I put this…’Hard Of Thinking’. In essence, he’s one Spice Girl short of a reunion tour, and all that ‘body art’ is actually notes, hints and tips on every aspect of his game.

Before you judge him, think back to your school days. Yep, we’ve all done it, writing notes/formula on our palms or shirt cuffs, or the name of that Welsh town with the longest name in the world on our penis….or maybe that’s just me who was able to fit it all in…in BLOCK CAPITALS….

So the next time you see Patsy hesitate when a quick cross is on, remember that it’s not his fault. He’s just searching for the instructions on what to do next.

Klavan got the blame for the goal conceded, but for me Patsy forgot to read the instruction on his left butt cheek that says ‘Cover and sweep behind the centre-backs when a striker peels off them’.

Unfortunately yesterday he played like all the notes were written in invisible ink. I’m not sure my words of wisdom were much use at half-time when I told him to ‘just bloody copy what the Burnley right-back did when he set up their goal’.

The single tear that rolled down his cheek will haunt me for a good few days y’know.

6/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While our right-back has a brain function that buffers more than a porn video in 1997, our Estonian centre-half has the memory of a goldfish.

You would think that being absolutely roasted last August by a fella called Andre Gray might stick with you, but in the first half Ragnar played like he’d never seen the man before in his life, and made pretty much the exact same mistakes as he had at Turf Moor.

Incidentally, Turf Moor is Irish for ‘Big Turf’. I just realised that.

Anway, I digress. After half-time, when I pulled Ragnar aside and showed him You Tube clips of the beasting he got from Gray last August, y’know, to prove that it actually fecking happened, he had a moment of clarity and suddenly he knew what he had to do…so he did it.

Hale-fecking-liua.

In the second half he was big, strong and had Gray in his pocket for the remainder of his time on the pitch.

7/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

To say that the heart of the Liverpool defence has been ‘changeable’ would be a bloody understatement. There’s been more changes in the Liverpool rearguard than there’s been Ed Sheeran songs in the Top 20 this week.

Joel was tasked with creating a ‘working relationship’ with Ragnar Klavan yesterday,  and deep down he knew this relationship was one of many he has to nurture. For a start, Dejan Lovren was peering down from the stands, waiting for his chance to show Joel some love, not to mention Shut Up Shop Ltd on the bench bursting to get back into a manly embrace with Joel, but it’s also the fact that Billy Joel had sung about this exact scenario in his 1986 song ‘A Matter Of Trust’….

 

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it’s just a question of when
I’ve lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won’t happen to us
Cause it’s always been a matter of trust

Indeed, Joel has to build that trust with three different men this season, and that’s leaving aside the fact that Emre Can keeps butting in every five minutes, and he’s a hard man to ignore when you’re trying to build a relationship. I should know, my wife keeps drooling over him every 5 minutes.

I’ve said too much.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

You know the ‘Bleep Test’?

That training exercise where you run from Point A to Point B before the buzzer goes at each end, which just speeds up as you get more knackered?

I believe that some of the world’s fittest athletes get to Level 14 before keeling over.

James Milner is currently at Level 863, and is still going. Up and down that left wing, trying to get a cross in before the buzzer goes, then back down the wing, trying to chase a ball into the oppositions flying forward, which they KEEP. BLOODY. PLAYING. BETWEEN. MILNER. AND. THE. CENTRE. BACK….

The poor man started the season standing 5’10” in his socks, and he’s now 5′ 8″ as his legs have been worn away.

But he just keeps running….

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can: 

 

£35,000 a week might sound like a lot of money to me and you, but to Emre Can it’s a major bone of contention for him as he seeks to hammer out a new contract. He’s looking for around £70,000 a week (you’re hearing £100,000 a week, but you’ve got to highball first in any negotiation, right?).

I’m not saying that my motivational tactics with the lads work 100% of the time, but here’s what I tweeted at half-time:

Tweet 1

Within 15 minutes of that tweet, Jackie had hit a 25 yard daisy-cutting, worm-burning thunderbastard into the back of net at the Kop end, and then launched himself into a knee-slide celebration that made everyone over the age of 37 envious.

You’re welcome.

Leaving aside the ‘real world money’ argument, in modern football Emre Can has got to be worth £70,000 a week on a new contract, if only for the fact that a new contract increases his selling price if it ever comes to that. Sign him up Jurgen.

Oh, and stop playing silly buggers Emre. Good lad.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

 

What you may not know about Adam is that he’s quite insecure in himself.

He knows he’s got all the tools to be a top class footballer, but you might be surprised to know that footballers don’t always just think about football.

Adam is into his ‘looks’ because he’s compensating for his insecurities surrounding his appearance. That’s why he moisturises 19 times a day and why his skin holds more moisture than the Great Barrier Reef.

His performance yesterday, while not bad, was not up to it’s usual high standards, as Adam realised just before kick off that he was now playing in arguably the most handsome midfield in world football….and he soiled himself.

Jurgen tried to help by hugging him for 12 minutes straight, while stroking his hair, but it didn’t work, and now Jurgen can’t hold anything without it slipping right out of his grasp.

Nivea has a challenge on it’s hands. Does it try and make Adam more handsome, or does it take Gini/Emre into a back alley and smash their faces in?

Decision, decisions.

7/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Composure.

It’s a rare commodity.

When the most gorgeous woman in the bar approaches you and tells you she wants you right now, do you jauntily raise an eyebrow, smirk and tell her she’s made a wise decision, or do you shake uncontrollably, dribble like a teething baby and make a squeaky noise associated with pet toys?

Aye, exactly.

Gini showed incredible composure on the stroke of half-time as the ball ricocheted between him and Mee (no, not him and me, him and Mee. No, not me, Mee. Oh forget it…). While Mee stretched out a leg in vain (no, not me, Mee), and Ward charged towards him, and Heaton did his best starfish impression, Gini went all ‘Matrix’ and made the world pause…before slamming the ball into the net.

Gini is like ‘Hawkeye’ in the Avengers movies. The big names like Iron Man or Hulk or Thor with all their fancy moves tend to get all the attention, but when they don’t show up, the Avengers need someone else to come to the rescue. So as Phil/Bobby/Sadio have gone missing at various times this season, Gini has stepped up with goals against City/Chelsea/Arsenal and Burnley.

I know which one I prefer right now.

9/10

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Some said that this was a ‘huge chance’ for Divock and that he must grab it with both hands.

Some said that he blew his big chance.

Some talk an awful lot of guff.

Make no mistake about it, Bobby Firmino comes back into this team as soon as he’s fit, so nothing Divock did yesterday was ever going to change that. He knows it, and I know it, and you should know it.

That’s not to say that he didn’t do well though. While the Fantasy Football stats may only give him one assist, in the real world, he has two. It was his cross to Gini that set up the equaliser, as well as his pass to Emre that set up the winner.

What more can he do?

Well yes, of course he could score. I take your point. Alright, nobody likes a smartarse.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

Have you ever seen ‘The Three Amigos’ movie?

It’s a cracker, I highly recommend it. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short combine wonderfully to make you howl with laughter for 90 minutes.

However, I’ve found that when the ‘Three Amigos’ are seperated, they’re funny, but not THAT funny. I mean Chevy Chase can be downright annoying, Martin Short is barely noticeable and Steve Martin, while clearly a very funny man, needs someone opposite him to truly thrive.

I know that Bobby F was missing yesterday, but that can’t excuse that performance Phil. You were DIRE. I’ve never done this before, but yesterday I felt I had to. I tweeted about you Phil. I feel dirty, but strangely vindicated.

Tweet 2

I know you’re annoyed at Jurgen for hooking you, but as you can see now, it was all me Phil. I’m not sorry either. This ‘thing’ we have has to be a two-way street. Since your return from injury, it’s been all ‘take, take, take’ from you. What have you given me? Do I not deserve the very best? Is the magic gone between us Phil? Just say the word and I’ll be out of here! Just be honest with me Phil, that’s all I ask.

As always,

Love you,

Xxx

5/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

 

The one player I have to spend the least amount of time with is Sadio. He’s just got all the self-confidence you could want, and shows it out on the pitch. He was Liverpool’s only real threat during that woeful opening half, and he kept the Burnley defence on edge all match long.

On more than one occasion he was inches away from the perfect pass to set up a goal.

The thought of Sadio on top song against THAT City defence next weekend makes me happy.

8/10

Substitutes:

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

11 minutes left when the barriers came down, and they stayed firmly down until the full-time whistle.

Not only did Lucas shore things up, he also found himself rampaging forward with the ball at his feet, 30 yards from goal. Even he realised how daft that situation was…

7/10

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

How would you feel if you woke on Monday morning and remembered that you were brought on by Jurgen Klopp after an hour to replace Philippe Coutinho?

Aye, exactly. That’s why Ben is walking around with an 8 hour erection as I type. Ah, the miracle of youth.

He did pretty well too.

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Right Jurgen, you’ve had the benefit of my presence before Spurs and now Burnley, so every other game this season will be degrees of each.

10 games to go. You’ll be fine for the next two, that’s a nailed on six points, but it’s the final 8 that will really tell us about this team: Bournemouth (fighting), Stoke (on the beach), West Brom (on the beach), Palace (probably on the beach by then), Watford (on the beach), Southampton (on the beach and we owe them one), West Ham (on the beach and a bit sh*t), Boro (in the Championship by then).

If you need me, you know where I am. You’ve already started using my advice, so keep it up. I like the whole ‘I don’t have a Plan B’ thing, that was beautiful. Just remember to pick Moreno every now and again and you’ll have everyone fooled. LOL.

7/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Liverpool 2-2 West Ham: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

Last week I wanted the next picture I saw of Fandango to be on a ‘WANTED’ poster, charged with impersonating a goalkeeper. You’re probably expecting more of the same today, but I’m feeling a tad more composed this evening. Therefore I’ll take a colder, less emotional look at his performance this afternoon.

For the Payet free-kick he was too far to the left of the goal and didn’t have a strong enough wrist when he got a hand to what was in reality a decent, but not superb, free-kick.

For the Antonia goal / Matip clusterf*ck, he was hesitant, and as the old saying goes “To hesitate is to lose”. His centre back did drop a considerable bollock, but he had a chance to rescue the situation.

In both examples he merely added more fuel to the fire that is currently raging as to whether he is really good enough at this level. We’re not talking about a lump of coal that was added to the fire, we’re talking about 30 litres of petrol with last years Christmas Tree floating in it.

To his credit the only thing he had to do in the second half, he did well. He was quick off his line, got a firm punch on a dangerous cross and split Andy Carroll open, all at the same time. He gets an extra point for that.

When managers sign a top-class goalkeeper they say that their new signing will be worth 10 points a season to their team. This doesn’t mean that they’ll make world class saves regularly throughout the season to keep wins from becoming draws, or draws from becoming defeats. What they’re saying is that their new signing doesn’t drop clangers very often, the likes of which clinch defeat from the jaws of victory. For an example, see Bournemouth away last week and West Ham home today.

Klopp has a tough decision to make, similar to one that faced Brendan Rodgers a few seasons ago when Simon Mignolet was faced with the exact same barrage of criticism. Brendan chose to take Mignolet out of the limelight to regain confidence and composure, and brought him back a number of weeks later.

The man to benefit from that was Brad Jones, now plying his trade in Holland, and this week the recipient of the ‘Goalkeeper Of The Year’ award in the Eredivisie (I sh*t you not). The man who could benefit from a similar decision by Klopp would be Simon Mignolet.

Football, you have a very sick sense of humour.

6/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

We find ourselves looking at another source of rich, delicious irony as we come to Patsy Clyne…undoubtedly our best defender who we need to be a dynamic right winger for games like these….

It’s all well and good praising him for being rock-solid at the back, but the truth is that in most games at Anfield this season, he’s going to be required to attack, attack and then attack some more. The cold harsh reality is that Clyne is limited going forward, and opponents have worked this out. When defending deep and in numbers, it’s usually Clyne that has the available space wide-right, which is a deliberate decision by opposing defenders. ‘Let him have it, he’s unlikely to do anything with it’. Unfortunately for the most part, they’re right.

If you think that I’m being harsh, consider how much attacking Liverpool have done this season, how many times Clyne has bombed up the right wing in support of that attack and that since the opening day of the season he has contributed exactly 0 goals and 0 assists. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Now compare and contrast with James Milner (penalties excluded).

Oh, hang on…

7/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Hooked at half-time, or at least that’s what you think happened…

The truth is that Herr Klopp lost his rag during the break. He was roaring German expletives at his troops, spittle flying from his foaming mouth splattering the dressing room walls like a plasterers radio. The glasses went flying, Origi was crying in the corner and Klopp flung a water bottle at the door of the toilets.

Unfortunately Dejan had just dropped a yule log and was coming out to face the music, only to get beamed with the flying bottle, knocking him spark out.

Klopp actually called for Lucas to replace him, but he just found a Lucas shaped hole in the dressing room door as the Brazilian stalwart had pegged it in sheer terror.

Of course Klavan The Barbarian wasn’t afraid (well, he was, but not as much as the others), so he stepped in.

I have no further update on the condition of Lovren, nor the water bottle.

7/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

 

What a disaster last weekend was at Bournemouth. We missed Joel Matip massively. He brings such calm and assurance to our defence. Once we get him back, everything will be fine. We’ve only conceded a couple of goals when he’s played. He’s the answer to all our woes…..

As his father Billy Joel always told him “Teamwork is everything. No one person is more important than the team, and beware of those who tell you otherwise. People lie Joel. People lie all the time. They’ll tell you that you’re the King, but you need your teammates, always and forever”.

Billy also reflected these feelings in his seminal 1978 hit ‘Honesty’:

If you search for tenderness
It isn’t hard to find
You can have the love you need to live
But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

Joel had been adamant all week that the failings at Bournemouth were not just due to his absence, but nobody would listen to him. Lovren/Lucas/Clyne/Milner spent all week slapping him on the back and telling him that he’s the answer to Liverpool’s defensive woes, every question on Mastermind and global warming.

Therefore Joel was left with little option but to show them that they were wrong, hence his (very deliberate) cock-up that presented West Ham with their second goal.

It’s a tough lesson to learn, but I think we’re all the better for learning it.

Thank you Joel (and Billy).

9/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

James Milner has been exceptional at left-back this season, hasn’t he?

Well….

Aside from his penalties (and he has been exceptional at converting those), he has, like his counterpart at right back, spent a lot of this season roaring up the left flank, and he’s contributed….one assist.

I know, I couldn’t believe it either, but I checked the FPL website (and wept when I saw what my team scored this week), but it’s true. One assist (at home to Leicester City), and he has been part of a defence that has conceded 15 goals in 13 games in which he’s played.

I’m not blaming Milner for all of our defensive woes, and he’s the one that is learning a new position, but a critical eye has to be cast over his contribution, particularly as the role of the full-backs is so central to how Klopp’s 4-3-3 system works.

So in summary we have a dodgy keeper, a centre back who wants to teach us all a valuable lesson, another who’s name is Dejan Lovren, and two full backs who haven’t really done much this season.

Splendid. Merry Christmas me arse.

6/10

Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

Welcome back Adam.

How we’ve missed him. A sublime first touch followed by a clinical finish put us on the front foot early doors, but alas that was not enough for us to kick on to three points.

Lallana is a Rolls Royce of a footballer. His touch and vision is exceptional and he’s going to be crucial to Liverpool over the hectic Christmas period while we wait for Phil to return, and then throughout January when Mane buggers off to Africa.

On a side note, if you’re planning on getting Adam Lallana a gift this Christmas, make it a Nivea gift set, aye? Just for a laugh. G’wan, I dare ya.

8/10

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson:

 

On Christmas Eve millions of children will leave out a fresh carrot for Rudolph as he treks across the globe delivering presents to every child on the ‘Nice’ list.

On Christmas Eve Jordan Henderson will sneak into Darren Randolph’s house and shove a carrot up his arse for making ‘that’ save.

Yes, that’ll put Jordan on the ‘Naughty’ list, but to be quite frank, do you think he gives a f*ck? That shot was heading for the top bin. It was perfect. How f*cking DARE Randolph make that save. The b*astard.

7/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

I lost count of the number of times that Gini broke into the box, was picked out with a lovely pass….and then needed about three touches to get it under control and get a shot away. Needless to say he wasn’t afforded the time to get his shot away…

Christina Aguilera rose to fame with her hit ‘Genie in a bottle’. I’m so frustrated at this result that I’d like to cover that song with a minor change…I’ll call it ‘Gini I’d Like To Bottle’….

JUST F*CKING HIT IT MAN…

6/10

 Divock Origi

Divock Origi: 

 

Four goals in four games.

You can’t really ask anymore of a 21 year old who’s still trying to find his way in the game. Imagine if Marcus Rashford had 4 in 4? The whole nation would be sticky due to the flood of media orgasms…

You can tell that Origi hasn’t quite got the same level of telepathic understanding as Coutinho has with Firmino/Mane, but that’s to be expected. He started this season as the 5th choice for the front three spots…

Should Daniel Sturridge find fitness in the near future, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason why he’d start ahead of Divock. Mind you I think it’s 50/50 who’s more likely to turn up by Christmas day. Santa or Sturridge? Place your bets now….

8/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino

 

Oh Bobby…

My theory on his poor form being linked to the absence of Phil is well documented on these pages, but it just seems to be getting worse and worse.

The daft ponytail / top knot / PS4 antennae was shorn during the week, but alas it didn’t have a ‘Reverse Samson’ effect

We also all know that he’s got motivation to get back on the scoresheet too, as the details of his goal bonuses have been revealed. I’m a big fan of that by the way, as it gives us all an insight into the motivating factors for these multi-millionaires. I don’t care how much money you have, if you know that you’ll get an extra £45,000 for every goal you’ll score, it gets your attention. I mean, that’s an extra gold toilet brush for all six toilets in his gaff. I’m dying to know how many bottles of Nivea Adam Lallana got for his goal today.

I have a theory though that if you look back on Bobby’s peformance today there were numerous occasions when he put himself in a superb position where a single visionary pass would put him clean through and sure to score….

Unfortunately his mate who played him all those passes is crocked, and nobody else is seeing his runs…

Patience Bobby, patience. Keep plugging away.

7/10.

Sadio Mane.jpg

Sadio Mané:

 

When Joel Matip revealed that he had turned down his countries invite to the African Cup Of Nations, everybody at Liverpool Football Club was delighted…apart from one person…

To say that all eyes at Melwood were on Sadio Mane would be an understatement. I’ve heard that Sadio wore sunglasses 24 hours a day for the last 4 days to avoid eye contact with anyone at the club. He’s torn between loyalty to his country and the demands of his teammates and manager.

To his credit he’s doing all he can to ensure Liverpool are in as strong a position as possible when he leaves. He came off at Bournemouth after having a leading role in putting the side 3-1 ahead, only to see it all fall apart. Today he ran West Ham ragged on both wings, setting up both goals. I suspect we’ll appreciate his talent all the more come February, but for all the wrong reasons.

8/10

Substitutes:

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

Did you notice the difference between West Ham in the first half and West Ham in the second half?

Aye, they were terrified to even try and attack us in the second half.

Klavan The Barbarian, ladies and gentlemen.

7/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

I’m not one for demanding that a manager should purchase someone during the transfer window just for the sake of it, but I have one question tonight:

Why name certain players on the bench if you’re not going to use them?

I’m all for giving youth a chance and had no issue with the likes of Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold and Ejaria being on the bench, but I do have an issue with them not being called upon when the opportunity arose. Does Jurgen not believe in them enough to call on them when needed? If so, I presume he’ll be very active in the January Transfer Window…

As for the other issues in the team, I liken it to No-Limit Texas-Hold-Em Poker. Everything in the universe, including Poker and this Liverpool team can be explained and understood through mathematics. No matter how many times you have ‘moments of magic’, you’ll eventually be undone by your weaknesses, as the law of averages always, always comes to pass.

Liverpool have weaknesses in defence, and no matter how often they score 2 goals in a game, eventually the law of averages will come to pass and those weaknesses will cost you. That’s what we’ve seen against Bournemouth and West Ham. You may be one of those who can’t quite understand how we concede so many goals from so few shots on target against us, but that’s maths for you. We went over 5 hours without conceding a goal, but that was an anomaly. So was conceding 4 at Bournemouth.

The much-respected Irish football pundit and ex-player/manager of his country John Giles says that Jurgen Klopp is a one-trick pony, but that it’s a hell of a trick….

That’s quite an accusation from a man who has seen pretty much everything in football. For the first time this season questions are being asked of Jurgen Klopp, and with games coming thick and fast for the next few weeks, it’s going to be fascinating to see how he answers them.

Will the ‘one-trick pony’ be sent to the glue factory or will he win the Grand National?

7/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel) If you would like to pay me to write like this, please do get in touch.

Liverpool 2-0 Leeds United: The Ranting Red Rebel League Cup Quarter Final Ratings

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

A rare glimpse of the lesser-spotted Mignolet in his natural habitat, and he hasn’t changed a bit.

Well, actually he has. A bit.

A couple of superb saves when danger loomed, and when he came for crosses he didn’t miss them completely. He also got a clean sheet, so these are clear improvements. Did he do enough to shift Fandango from the Number 1 slot? Nah, but he’s helping me sleep better at night knowing that we have a competent goalkeeper on the bench.

He’s showing admirable professionalism in the face of such a public and what must be a humbling demotion, and that’s to his credit. I’ve slagged Migs off on these pages in the past, but credit where it’s due, he’s a good sort.

He’ll be off in the summer like, but wouldn’t we all?

8/10

Trent Alexander Arnold.jpg

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

My previous review of T.A.A. was acronymic-tastic following the victory over Spurs:

O.M.G.

L.M.A.O.

R.O.F.L.

T.A.A. = A.C.E.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

T.H.F.C…..R.I.P.

However after last nights display, single letters just won’t cut the mustard. Hell, a 9,000 page tome may not suffice.

This kid is the real deal. There’s a certain other youngster (more on whom later) who caught the eye for obvious reasons, but I felt that the performance of T.A.A. shone like a yellow star in a pit of fish guts in the Australian jungle.

You know that right-back is not the future for this kid. He’s going to rule midfield for Liverpool Football Club for years to come. He’s got it all. Touch. Vision. Drive. Pace. Strength (which will only improve). Eye for goal.

To top it all off, his cross for the opener last night made me make a sex noise. It was Gerrard-esque mixed with Beckahm-esque. Spot his technique as the ball is sprayed wide to him…He chests it down but never looks down at the ball…His eyes stayed firmly glued to the attackers movement in the box, which is why Origi looked like he came from nowhere to prod home, but of course he made the run and T.A.A. put it on a sixpence for him, 2 yards ahead of the keeper who desperately wanted to come for the cross but just couldn’t do it…A peach of a cross.

Man Of The Match and deservedly so. The future’s so bright I’m wearing shades in November.

9/10

lucas

Lucas:

 

Lucas knew several victims of the tragic plane crash in Colombia that devastated the Chapecoense football club and claimed many other lives. It would have been very easy for him to withdraw from the game last night, and very understandable too. Who could blame him?

However he knew that we were going to field a youthful team last night, and that his experience and presence was required, so he got out there and did another superb job.

There are many things in football that I can’t quite understand.

  • Paul Pogba’s Valuation.
  • John Stones’ Reputation.
  • Alan Pardews continued employment.

However they all pale into insignificance with the fact that Lucas Leiva is our longest serving player and considered a true stalwart. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it, as he obviously does, but when I think back to the fop-haired lightweight who first appeared at Anfield all those years ago, I think I’d have given you 1,000/1 that he’d be here now and be as revered as he is.

Football. It’s a funny old game.

God bless you Lucas Leiva.

8/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

Fresh from being crowned ‘Estonian Football Of The Year’ for the third time running, a solid cameo from Klavan The Barbarian who was faced with pace, a bit more pace and finally some pace last night.

Whether it was by choice or design, he kept a pretty high line all night, which has knocked about 3 weeks off my expected lifespan, but to his credit he got away with it. Just.

Here’s a question for you…Is Klavan 3rd choice CB? 4th behind Lucas? 5th if Sakho apologises to Klopp enough? 6th if Joe Gomez sends Klopp a heartfelt ‘I’m Sorry’ letter, pretending to be Sakho?

Who knows? Who cares?

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno:

 

STOP. SHOOTING. FROM. DISTANCE. EVERY. CHANCE. YOU. GET.

James Milner is now so entrenched in the starting left-back spot, Bruce Willis in Armageddon would struggle to get him out of it.

6/10

Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart:

 

A challenging evening for Kevin ‘Bobby’ Stewart, but one he passed well. Klopp threw him in alongside the ‘experience’ of Can (who’s younger than Kevin…) and The Geordie Wine Gum, and they faced a real midfield tussle against a spirited Leeds United outfit who were precisely 428% more positive than Sunderland and 295% more talented.

He got lucky in the second half when he had his shorts pulled down 25 yards from his own goal which led to Roofe hitting the post for Leeds, but aside from that he did the simple things well and tried to keep the team ticking over in terms of movement and passing. He’ll have learned a lot from last night.

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

If you could get into a laboratory and combine the physical attributes of Emre with the first touch and vision of Adam Lallana, you’d have a world-beater on your hands.

Unfortunately we can’t, so we have Emre ‘Jackie’ Can with the engine, power and pace but with what is all too often an exasperating first touch and lack of vision.

After the game Klopp alluded to the fact that we didn’t create enough as some players were playing in ‘different’ positions, and I believe that was a direct reference to Emre. He needs two/three touches when others need one. He can see some passes, but not others. If you were trying to quietly pick a lock for nefarious purposes, using Emre Can would be like using a jackhammer to do the job. You’ll open the door alright, but you’ll be caught doing it.

He improved later in the game as the changes came and he found himself dropping deeper in midfield and doing what he’s best at…breaking up play, getting the ball and giving it to someone who’s good at using it. I hope he gets to do that more often.

7/10

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum: 

 

Excellent.

Gine found himself operating between two positions last night, but performed both with aplomb. (Note to the FBI monitoring all the interwebz, that’s ‘aplomb’, I didn’t say anything about a bomb…ah sh*t).

When deeper in a midfield role he was astute in his use of the ball and clean in the tackle. When pushed into the front three he was a constant threat and desperately unlucky not to open the scoring when he smacked the foot of the post.

He is also the obscure answer of many a future Pub Quiz question in 20 years time…who set up Ben Woodburn for his first LFC goal? You might think that we’ll always remember that, but who assisted Michael Owen’s first goal, eh? Exactly….

8/10

ovie-ejaria

Ovie Ejaria:

 

*Takes a deep breath and dons helmet*

I don’t think the young lad had a good night last night.

The effort was there, but the end product was lacking. All too often the wrong option was taken, the wrong pass was played or the pass was inaccurate.

However he’s young and the future is still bright, but this must be considered an opportunity missed, and they don’t come along too often. For instance you would suspect that Klopp will pick a near full-strength side for the semi-finals of a cup competition, so where does Ovie get his next chance? Would Klopp look to give Grujic the next chance based on last nights performance?

Interesting times ahead.

6/10

Divock Origi

Divock Origi:

 

The last time Divock Origi started a game for Liverpool (against Spurs in the previous round), his review was:

Marvelous. Superb. Immense. Sensational.

What a shift this young man put in last night. Pace, power, vision, he had it all. He’s been aching to get a chance, and he quite literally (alright, he actually) ran himself into the ground last night, hauled ashore after an all-action 68′ stint that had the Kop singing his name repeatedly.

There will be calls for Daniel Sturridge to get a run in the first team, but this fella deserves for the same calls to be made. I mean, neither will (more anon…), but by Christ are we spoiled for choice in our reserve strikers.

Well, I’m tempted to write the same again, but change the last paragraph. With Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge and Ings all crocked, Liverpool looked to Divock Origi to save the day, and save the day he did.

We were spoiled for choice with our reserve strikers, but when all choice has been removed, we’re blessed to have had Divock to call on. He has weeks of first choice action ahead of him, and a real opportunity to make himself undroppable.

Go ‘ed Divock lad.

9/10

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane:

 

He’s starting to show some signs of the inconsistency that I was afraid of when we first signed him (I’ll admit to not being convinced it was the right call), but even when inconsistent he produces moments of magic.

His pass to Gini was sublime and almost brought the opening goal.

His linking with and backheel to Origi for the second was exquisite.

Some were wondering whether he should have been called on to play the full 90 minutes after a full shift at the weekend and another looming on Sunday…don’t forget though that he’s buggering off to Africa for a month in January. It would be a crying shame if he was a wee bit tired for Senegal, wouldn’t it?

7/10

Substitutes:

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

History Maker.

Record Breaker.

17 years and 46 days old.

Goal at the Kop End.

Made Michael Owen cry.

Get that lad a pint. Oh…wait….

10/10

james-milner

James Milner:

 

Klopp turned to the bench to get the ‘Lucas Security System’ to shut up shop, when it dawned on him that he was already playing, so he turned to James Milner instead.

As Forest Gump would say, that’s all I gotta say about that.

N/A

marko-grujic

Marko Grujic:

 

Here’s a picture of Marko celebrating the fact that Klopp remembers that he still exists. An elaborate entrance to the field for a substitute, but each to their own.

N/A

klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp:

 

Faith. Trust. Momentum.

All of these words are rare in the cut-throat football business, but all are vital for success.

Jurgen put his Faith and Trust in the youngsters and they repaid him in kind.

He risked the astonishing momentum that the squad has built up as no matter how you spin it, a home defeat to a Championship club would be a punch to the solar-plexus. His risk paid off.

There are plenty of tweets/stats out there about the run Liverpool are on since the Turf Moor debacle, but I can’t be arsed to find it, so I’m going to say it’s something like this:

WWDWWWWWDWWWDWWWWWWWWDWWWWWWWWWDWWWWWWDWWWWWW

If I were the marketing manager of a certain penetrating oil and water displacing spray I’d be keeping a close eye on the number of unbeaten games Liverpool can get to, and if it got close to 40 I’d be on it like a car bonnet

wd-40

 

10/10

Low Lie The Stands Of Anfield Road…Forever?

Here’s a question for you…

What does the ‘W’ stand for in John W Henry?

Based on social media this morning, it’s either ‘Wise’ or ‘W*nker’. Which is odd. I mean, football fans on social media never differ widely on something….right?

In case you’re wondering what I’m blathering on about, Liverpool FC owner John W Henry gave an interview in New York last night (as his Red Sox were getting pumped 5-3 by the Yankees), where he said that he’s not sure if the planned Anfield Road expansion would go ahead due to ‘issues with ticket prices in England’. No sooner had his words hit the wires/internet/carrier-pigeons, then the ‘fallout’ started. A veritable nuclear winter of tweets are still raining down upon us as the LFC fan base bellow their reaction to his comments. So now it’s my turn to bring some reasoned thinking (stop giggling) to proceedings…

Point 1:

Let’s look at what he actually said, which is a good place to start. He said that the redevelopment of Anfield road ‘may not proceed’ due to ‘the issue with ticket prices in England’, but ‘we’ll have to see’.

In the one corner we have the paranoid mouth-foamers who think he said ‘It ain’t happening, la, coz all you numpties walked out last February against da Mackems’

lfc-fans-walking-out
Some people think ticket prices was the big issue…but just look at who’s playing for Liverpool….

Now I like to live my life according to some basic principles, one of which is ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that everyone is not trying to get you’. It helps me be wary of most people, because most people you should be wary of. So that’s my default position, and you should bear that in mind when I say…STOP BEING F*CKING PARANOID.

John W Henry said ‘there is a ticket price issue in England’. He didn’t blame LFC fans, mention LFC fans or reprimand LFC fans. There IS a ticket price issue in England, not just Anfield, and I am glad that the owner of LFC is aware of it, rather than just knowing snippets about his own club in Liverpool. It shows he’s educated on matters relating to football outside of LFC, and that’s a good thing.

John W Henry said ‘The Anfield Road development MAY NOT proceed, we’ll have to see’. Therefore no decision has been made yet. He has constantly stated that FSG like to under-promise and over-deliver…If you need me to join the dots for you from here, you should probably move back down to preschool and try and get the basics right before attempting ‘reasoned thinking’.

Point 2:

Why would John W Henry expand the Anfield Road end? Let’s list a number of reasons why he would spend millions of quid (be it his own or loans against his asset):

  1. To ensure YOU have a seat because you deserve it
  2. To ensure YOUR MATE has a seat becasue he deserves it
  3. To ensure there are so many seats that everyone who wants to can get in because we all deserve it
  4. To ensure that there are so many seats that they won’t all sell out and some will be available really cheaply, and maybe even FREE
  5. To ensure that he gets more fans in, makes more profit than he does now and has a healthy asset on his books for the future.

If your answer was any/all of 1-4 above, go and sit in the corner and have a good long think about what you’ve done, what you think FSG are, and how you think John W Henry has made as much money as he has made….

FSG run businesses. They don’t own the Red Sox because it’s ‘cool’. They don’t own Liverpool Football Club because they love the club as much as you do (even though they might, I don’t know). All I do know is that they run the club as a business because that’s what it is. If you think it’s possible to run Liverpool FC in a different way, in the cut-throat Premier League with the BILLIONS sloshing about (in Sam Allardyce’s jeans, allegedly), then you are deluded.

FSG will only expand the Anfield Road stand if and when it makes sense, AS A BUSINESS, to do so. Let’s do some sums, shall we…

rachel-riley
This should be fun….

The Main Stand cost about £120 million. So let’s guess the Annie Road expansion will cost £50 million.

Now let’s say FSG price each new seat at £40 each (remember, there’s an issue with ticket prices in England!). There would be 4,500 new seats, and that brings in £180,000 extra per match at Anfield.

Now let’s assume they are only basing the income on the 19 guaranteed home matches per season (they could be REALLY unlucky and get drawn away from home in every cup match, and may NEVER be in Europe again…don’t blame me, this is how banks work should work). That’s £180,000 x 19 = £ 3,420,000 per season extra income. WOW, WE’RE LOADED, right? Well…

Remember that FSG borrowed £50,000,000 to build the new 4,500 seats, so assuming they got one of those cracking 0% APR offers you get with some new sofas, then they pay that loan back in exactly…14.6 years. Or 2031 if they started RIGHT NOW. Of course in reality the loan will have interest on it, so it’s safe to say that the loan won’t be paid back for yonks…and how long do you think FSG are going to own LFC for?

elephant-in-the-room
Nope, I can’t see anything odd with this picture…

This brings us onto the elephant in the room…are FSG looking to sell the club? Well, setting aside the fact that they can, but they’ve said that they’re not, they must ensure that if they ever change their mind and want to sell it, things like a loan to pay for the Anfield Road redevelopment which could take decades to pay for itself would kind of be frowned upon by potential new owners…even those from the Middle East who snort the ashes of burnt £50 notes through $100 notes, just for a laugh.

So therefore I have to come to the conclusion that what John W Henry said was….well, nothing, really. He said what anybody with half a brain could have worked out for themselves before he even said it.

To those saying that John W Henry has ‘harshed the buzz’ around Anfield, I invite you to take a long, hot soak in a bath of sulphuric acid, and relax. You’re being ridiculous, over-sensitive and quite hysterical.

wont-somebody-please-think-of-the-children

 

Liverpool 5-1 Hull City: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

My Christ, but he’s a good looking lad, eh?

Had a pretty quiet afternoon with feck all to deal with apart from a couple of Snodgrass corners, one of which led to yet another dirty sheet….that’s the opposite of clean sheet, right? Some have been wondering whether Fandango (that’s his nickname I’ve decided, as in the Bohemian Rhapsody song ‘Karius! Karius! Can you do the Fandango’, which I’m sure are the words…) could have come and claimed a few of the corners that he had to face, but I’m backing him on his decision making yesterday. Not because I think he shouldn’t have come for them, but because when you’ve got a mush that miraculous, a jawline that chiseled and a smile that blinding, you need exposure, camera time and the limelight. He’ll have been chuffed that David Meyler smashed a meaningless goal into the Anfield Road nets, as it meant the camera was pointed towards him for a few rare, fleeting moments.

Fandango – On the ball and always ahead of the game.

7/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

Turning into my nemesis, this lad. I like to have some material to work with, to allow me to come up with something witty, or pithy, or wise, but Patsy is so solid and understated in his work that he’s giving me nothing.

I’m left with little option then but to make something up. Therefore I can reveal that Patsy Clyne fraped Mamadou Sakho’s Instagram account on Saturday morning and dropped Mama deep in the sh*t. ALL THE LOLZ.

7/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

Granted a starting spot on Saturday as Dejan Lovren was ruled out with a ‘viral infection’. Many have been wondering what kind of ‘viral infection’ has sidelined Lovren, but my sources have revealed to me that this is code for ‘Klavan took Lovren aside during training on Friday and snarled into his ear that he fancied a game on Saturday’.

Well I wouldn’t argue with him either, would you?

The result was a nice easy stroll around Anfield on a Saturday afternoon, stopping to occasionally snarl at Hernandez who has been reported as missing by Hull City and his family since 3.03pm yesterday afternoon. Any sightings can be reported to Mr. M. Phelan, Hull City FC, Hull.

7/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

 

 

A number of you have contacted me since the Chelsea review piece asking if Joel Matip is indeed the son of Billy Joel, and I’m frankly insulted that you don’t trust me. However, if you need further proof, Joel Matip is once more living the lyrics of one of his Da’s finest tunes, as epitomised by the lyrics for ‘Just The Way You Are’.
Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are
That’s right, Joel Matip wants each and every LFC fan to stay as they are, and has confirmed that he’s going to stay with us through thick and thin, and no matter how we are as fans, he’s got our back.
Now, what more proof do you need? What a guy….

8/10.

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

This is getting silly now.

Two goals, a hand in the first, a hand in the third and looking as defensively sound as any left-back in the league.

I posted on Twitter last night (after a few pints admittedly) that I felt that James Milner is the 21st century version of Denis Irwin. Now, in the cold light of a Sunday afternoon, I agree with myself. Defensively sound, always ready to provide an assist, and lethal at penalties.

Yep, sounds like Denis Irwin to me. But he’s not evil, obviously.

9/10

Wijnaldum.jpg

Geordie Wine Gum: 

 

Georgie is on the verge of joining an exclusive club which includes Ringo Starr, Jason Orange, Phil Neville & Hawkeye – All members of outstandingly talented groups of people, but remembered for being ‘wallpaper’ rather than the star of the show, despite being extremely talented in their own right (except for Phil Nev and Jason Orange, obviously). Anyway, I think you get what I mean…

While his play has been outstanding, he hasn’t scored 4 league goals, or thwacked a thunderbast*ard into the top bin at Stamford Bridge, so in a way he’s lagging behind.

If he throws in a goal or two in the next couple of weeks, then he’s an immediate ‘A-Lister’ though, so while this may sound harsh on poor Georgie, the standards being set around him are phenomenally high…which is how I like it.

7/10

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson:

 

If you google ‘Paul O’Connell pre-match team talks’ you’ll find an array of videos that show the Irish Rugby Legend scaring the bejaysus out of 18-stone egg-chasing muscle-men as he roars the words ‘SAVAGE INTENSITY’ and ‘PUT THE FEAR OF GOD IN THEM’ over and over until his eyes pop out on stalks like they do in Ren and Stimpy cartoons.

Ren and Stimpy.jpg

While I don’t think that Jordan Henderson has the same vocal gravitas as Paul O’Connell (think of the Hulk gargling gravel with a hangover), I know for a fact that Captain Henderson puts into action those same sentiments on the pitch. Savage intesity from Hendo does indeed put the fear of God into opponents who daren’t take a touch lest they find that Hendo has already stolen the ball off them and is tearing off down the pitch before they’ve even touched it.

In summary Hendo is leading by example.

8/10.

Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

I’m not saying that Adam is a stylish, sophisticated beautiful man, but that finish for the first goal was the ugliest thing he has ever been involved in, and I’m including his nappies when he was a child, which apparently smelled like roses and resembled the works of Picasso (might have had something to do with his diet).

However he soon rectified that with his play for the third goal which contained a turn so stunningly beautiful that I know of four people who have already left their wives and decided to run away with it.

His new deeper role is suiting his attributes perfectly. He’s got the energy to play in midfield, the control to rarely be dispossesed, the vision to see what’s happening in front of him and he’s now banging in the goals too. I’m so impressed that I’m very close to starting a Nivea regime myself. No, really.

9/10

 Coutinho.jpg

Philippe Coutinho: 

Dearest Philippe,

 

I’m glad my last letter inspired you to start banging them in the net again.

Coutinho Letter.PNG

Two goals since Chelsea and you can rest assured that I think of you every night when nodding off (not in THAT way…well, not yet).

However as you know I am always striving for you to be the very best you can be, and so I leave you with these six simple words.

PRACTICE USING YOUR LEFT F*CKING FOOT.

Love you.

xxx

9/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino

 

Oh very clever…very, very clever…

Bobby darted all over Anfield yesterday and completely bamboozled the Hull City defence who went out looking to stifle the insanely white-toothed Brazilian. Where they thought he’d be a threat, he wasn’t. He dropped deep. He dropped right. He dropped left. He began moves rather than finished them. A splendid performance of understated effectiveness which let others grab all the headlines.

Just one thing though…Next time will you bloody tell me you’re going to do that first? You played HAVOC with my Fantasy Football team this weekend. Five goals and not a goal or assist for you? For F*CK sake….

7/10.

Sadio Mane.jpg

Sadio Mané:

 

Two Anfield appearances and two goals, both finishing off moves that made the watching public groan ever so inappropriately and possibly touch themselves too. Majestic.

As Forest Gump once said ‘I’ve got nothing more to say about that’.

8/10

Substitutes:

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

 

That Jurgen Klopp has a mean, nasty ruthless streak in him, eh? Throwing on Daniel Sturridge with over 20′ left and leading 4-1, poor Mike Phelan must have had better birthdays. Mind you, he played for ‘THEM’, so f*ck ‘im. Daniel made an instant impact as he danced into the penalty area before being CHOPPED DOWN by a ferociously dangerous tackle that left the referee with little option but to point to the spot *ahem*

I was a wee bit surprised that Sturridge didn’t start, as I believe it is these games at home against teams that will ‘defend deep’ where I think Sturridge is a fantastic asset. Mind you, we won 5-1 with him starting on the bench, so what do I know?

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

A handy 15′ of action to start to shake off the rust and try to catch the eye of the manager. Poor Emre…just a few short weeks ago he was the main man in midfield, and now he’s longing for League Cup matches so he can start a game.

Spoiled we are. Spoiled rotten.

 7/10

marko-grujic

Marko Grujic: 

 

Thrown on alongside Can, who he’d be competing against for a place in the team….

What was that I said about Klopp and a ruthless streak?

7/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

He wants the team to be angry at home to Hull City. He wants the fans to be angry at home to Hull City. He wants to thrash and torch every bus he sees parked (somebody please keep him away from the Liverpool Bus Depot).

While I smiled at the Borussia Dortmund fans worship of Klopp, I never really stopped to think about it. I saw clips of it, gifs here and there, but just dismissed it as ‘Those crazy Germans’. I’m starting to get it now though. I want to hug him. I want to hold him. I want to buy him a pint…no, I want to buy him every pint he ever has for the rest of his life. This guy doesn’t just manage a team. He manages the whole club, the fans and quite possibly the universe.

9/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne and @ByTheMinLFC). I’m a co-host for the best weekly Premier League Podcast in the whole world – @ByTheMinEPL Podcast, which can be found on bytheminute.co. If you’ve read this far, pat yourself on the back.

Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool: LFC Player Ratings

 

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

A remarkably comfortable Friday evening for Migs who in all truth could have nipped out to catch a flick at the nearest cinema, he had so little to do. And yet…

I’ve concluded that Simon Mignolet is controlled by the moon. In the same way as our nearest asteroidal (I don’t care if that’s not really a word, I like it) neighbour controls the ebb and flow of the tides, so does it control the ability of Migs to come off his line. In essence, he comes for crosses as regularly as the tide comes in, and if the tide happens to be out, Migs will stay on his line, unable to do anything about it. He also seems to be affected by gravity more than most – when he does come out, he’s either got lead in his boots or additional gravitational pull to keep him from soaring through the air to pluck the ball away.

All eyes will now be on the fit-again Karius when he does make his debut, which is likely to be in midweek in the League Cup. Mind you, I’ve got reservations about him too. I just can’t trust a goalkeeper that is THAT good looking. If he hasn’t got his faced smashed up by the time he’s ‘made’ it, he’s either the greatest of all time, or not brave enough to go in where it hurts.

7/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

Late on Friday night as Patsy stepped inside his front door and emptied his pockets on the hall table, out spilled the following items: Chewing Gum, House Keys, Car Keys, £500 cash and Eden Hazard.

Patsy didn’t give the waffle-guzzling, beer-brewing, chocolate-eating Roberto Martinez managed *snigger* winger a sniff all game, while he continuosly raided forward down the right wing in support of the attack, particularly in the first half as Liverpool battered Chelsea with their own unique blend of ‘shock and awe’ football.

A smashing performance from the quiet man of the team, yet one of the first names on the teamsheet (probably because Liverpool don’t have any other fullbacks….). Oh, and he really, really, really looks like this fella from Hey Arnold, and should grow his barnet accordingly.

hey-arnold

8/10. 

dejan-lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Sporting a black eye straight from Rocky III, or IV, or possibly II, I dunno, Dejan Lovren looked mean and moody and played like it too. He wasn’t taking sh*t from anyone last night, hence a meek and frankly effete Diego Costa forgetting he was meant to be the most bastarding bastard in the history of bastards, and behaving like a choir boy threatened with a visit from ‘that’ priest.

Along with holding the fort supremely well, his movement and subsequent finish for the first goal was awesome, checking his run and volleying home with aplomb. I love the word aplomb. I’ve never seen it used outside of football reporting, and that’s fine by me.

9/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

 

The illegitimate son of Billy Joel is living the lyrics of one of his Da’s finest tunes:

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Indeed, Joel didn’t start the burning dumpster fire that has been the Liverpool FC defence over the past five or so years, but he’s damn well fighting it with gusto, and whisper it, but he may well be getting it under control.

When Chelsea pulled a goal back with 30 minutes remaining, I can’t have been the only Liverpool fan who’s head dropped expecting the Alamo to be chucked at our back four, and an inevitable capitulation leading to at best a point or at worst another soul-crushing defeat. Yet Matip and friends stood firm and saw the game out in relative comfort.

On a side note, I’ve ranted a bit on Twitter about the quality of ‘commentary’ by Tyler and Neville last night, and I stand by the fact that their obvious bias towards ‘other’ teams (make your own mind up which team that is) was prominent. The nail in that particular coffin came in the first half as Joel Matip strode forward from the back, ball at his feet, to launch and join in with another attack. Martin Tyler called it ‘Ferdinand-esque’….

REALLY? I MEAN F*CKING REALLY? How about ‘Maldini-esque’? ‘Beckenbauer-esque’? ‘Bobby F*cking Moore-esque’? No though, it had to be ‘Ferdinand-esque’….Maybe it was Anton he was referring to, but I doubt it.

9/10.

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

At the end of last season I said that James Milner will be the best damn squad player Liverpool could have as his ability to cover numerous positions would prove invaluable.

I’ll admit I didn’t think he’d become first choice left-back, but then again it is the biggest problem area in the squad, so in a sense I called it. Yes, I did call it. YES I BLOODY DID. Ah shurrup.

The biggest compliment I can make about Milner is that he rarely looked troubled in defence last night, even when under the cosh in the second half. His ability to contribute effectively when he gets forward is also a real bonus, and I’d wager a full € 2 that he’ll have more assists/goals than any other left-back in the Premier League next May.

8/10

Wijnaldum.jpg

Geordie Wine Gum: 

 

How did this lad get relegated last season? Christ alive, Newcastle must have been utter dog spunk if they went down with this fella in the ranks and Rafa on the sidelines. Maybe all the players were on zero-hour contracts? That might explain it…

Anyway, I digress. His work rate, his composure, his eye for a pass, his engine…I could go on and on and on. I don’t see how Emre Can will get back into this team, and last season Emre was Klopp’s leader on the pitch. What a start by Georgie…

8/10

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson:

 

Some players can return from injury and immediately hit their straps and be at their very best instantly. Daniel Sturridge is a prime example. Some players need to work, and work hard, to get back up to their usual level. Considering Jordan Henderson falls into the latter category, it’s very unfortunate that he’s had such a bad run of injuries, as it inevitably takes him a very long time to get back to the level he can reach.

We’re seeing that level now. As he led Liverpool into a very tough away match as Captain, he was immense in the middle of the park in his new ‘holding’ role. There is no other player in the Liverpool squad with more doubters than Hendo (Moreno doesn’t count…I said ‘players’, not ‘clowns’), but Jordan must have silenced them all last night. Mind you, we live in a world where Twitter flutes roam freely, so I’m sure it won’t be hard to find someone with an IQ lower than the number of women who like Donald Trump who’s still bashing Hendo last night. C’est la vie.

Oh, and that goal was ‘Gerrard-esque’. It’s an unfair comparison, but it was a hell of an impression.

9/10.

Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

Russian government officials involved in their ‘fight against doping’ (stop giggling) may well be noticing Adam Lallana right now and his boundless energy, his ability to cover more ground than everyone else in the league, his eye for goal and his general all-round improvement this season….

No, he’s not juiced or doped or whatever it is the kids call it these days (asthmatic is probably the buzzword, right Serena?), but he does have a secret that gives him the edge. Are you ready to find out what it is?

NIVEA.

Adam Lallana can brutalise opponents while feeling as smooth as a baby’s bottom. What a combination. His new role, more withdrawn but with licence to burst forward late will draw comparisons with a certain Frank Lampard. Mind you, Adam’s not going to get the ‘Fat’ moniker attached to him, considering he runs 3,000 miles every 90 minutes.

8/10

 Coutinho.jpg

Philippe Coutinho: 

Dearest Philippe,

 

Goals. Lots of them. That’s the only thing that will keep you in this side, and in my heart.

That may sound mercenary, but it’s the truth. If you want me, like really want me, you need to fight for me, and bang those goals in like you did at the Emirates. Mane, Firmino and Sturridge are all showing quite a lot of leg to try and attract my affections, but for now you still have my heart.

That cross for Dejan was FILTHY by the way. You still know how to do it for me.

Love you.

xxx

8/10.

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge

 

Well I’ll be damned…

Daniel Sturridge leading an attacking line away from home at a major rival, working his boll*x off, switching positions from central to wide, and generally adapting to the Klopp way of working. There’s hope for him yet…

Of course he could only last 50 minutes before he resembled a jelly run over by an articulated truck, but hey, that’s progress. Klopp himself admitted that he could have risked Bobby Firmino, but he put his faith in Sturridge, and was rewarded.

The fact that the side is no longer ‘dependent’ or ‘desperate’ for the mythical Daniel Sturridge is fantastic. He’s no longer the panacea to cure all ills. He’s a bloody talented striker who gives us yet another weapon going forward. If he refrains from acting like a weapon, he could be part of something very special indeed.

8/10.

Sadio Mane.jpg

Sadio Mané:

 

As is the theme for the performance last night, Sadio is yet another attacker who worked as part of the ‘system’ to deliver the result, without ever exploding with individual brilliance, and without ever needing to.

You can see the problem that faces sides taking on this Liverpool team – they just can’t predict where the threat will come from…Sturridge, Coutinho, Firmino, Mane, Lallana, Henderson, Geordie Wine Gum….They’ll all scare you to death, and somewhere along the line, one of them will step forward and hurt you. Fantastic.

8/10

Substitutes:

Lucas.jpg

Lucas:

Fresh from his first assist in professional football since 1997, Lucas was introduced to help stem the blue tide as Chelsea sought an equaliser. Apart from conceding a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box (after Hazard kicked Lucas and then fell over, the cheating tw*t), he did his job well. With Milner in the first team, Lucas can now wear the ‘handiest squad player’ crown. He’s been with the club for 10 years. I’d have given you long odds on that being the case when the floppy haired young Brazilian first burst* onto the scene in the red of Liverpool

*more of a stutter, truth be told

7/10

Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart:

 

Football fans of a certain vintage will understand why I can’t stop saying ‘Bobby’ between the names Kevin and Stewart. I just can’t help it. I think I’m sick.

A late introduction to see the game out, and mission accomplished. Even got a huge bear hug from Herr Klopp who also whispered something in his ear after the final whistle. Maybe it was ‘Who the hell was Graham ‘Bobby’ Stuart?’

 7/10

Divock Origi

Divock Origi: 

 

Needs a goal. Just one goal. Off his shin, or his arse or even his b*llox. Anything! I thought he had it when he rose at the far post and in fairness to him he did everything right, heading it down into the ground, and was only denied by a fine Courtois save.

Should have scored, mind…

7/10


Jurgen Klopp Unhappy

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Had the balls to trust his players and not risk Firmino.

Dished out 14 bear hugs at full-time.

10 points away to Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and home to the Champions.

That’ll do Jurgen, that’ll do.

9/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne and @ByTheMinLFC). I’m also 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.

Arsenal v Liverpool: LFC Player Ratings

I’m BACK!

I do hope your summer hibernation was enjoyable and relaxing, because let’s face it, after just 90 minutes of this new season, I need a holiday already….

Anyway, I digress. Let’s get on with a whole new season of LFC Player Ratings shall we?

Let’s begin….

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

I didn’t expect to see Migs between the sticks when this season kicked off, but then I didn’t expect to see Alex Manninger on the bench either (and I REALLY didn’t expect to see that Manninger now looks like he’s been put in a dehydrator since he played for Arsenal…really creepy looking).

Yet here we are, 3 goals conceded in one game with Migs in nets….but he had a decent game, including a superb penalty save in the first half. He had no chance with the first or second, and the third was ‘one of them’ (just ask Hugo Lloris, who’s half decent apparently, but was beaten by the same thing).

Migs is most certainly in the last-chance saloon right now (which is located 10 miles outside Liverpool and does Bed & Breakfast only), and Karius is healing quckly. The only thing that will keep him in the team upon his return is a string of clean sheets….Good luck with that….

7/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

While Patsy holidayed in France this summer, he had quite a nice break for himself, having only one run-out and impressing during that short spell.

He’s started this season in a similar vein, looking threatening going forward (which was his achilles heel last season to an extent). He’s going to have many more options on his rampages forward this season with the likes of Mané, Coutinho, Firmino & Lallana to work with.

I see Patsy having a BIG season this year, which is just as well really…we don’t really have any other full-backs in the whole damn squad.

8/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

In the next training session I can only presume that somebody will pull Dejan aside and inform him that if he’s trying to block a shot, it’s probably not wise to try and do it by practicing his ‘lunges’ with his hands behind his back.

Don’t get me wrong, his lunging technique is terrific, really spot on, but for blocking a football, it’s not very effective.

Apart from that he was pretty solid, but you’d like him to be more dominant in the air in situations that led to their third goal. You know, rising like a salmon on the backs of opponents/teammates, rather than stumbling over and inspecting the pitch as the ball hits the back of the net….

Liverpool desperately need a decent centre back partnership to develop this season, and it looks likely that Dejan will be one half of it, so pick your favourite Dejan and let’s get on with it, eh?

7/10

Klavan.jpg

Ragnar Klavan: 

 

Look at him. Just LOOK at him.

What a magnificent specimen of a man. Klavan The Barbarian is his name from now on. Bought for thruppence ha’penny (which is worth £4.2m in today’s money), he has been outstanding in pre-season, and today. He keeps it simple, kicks people when they need to be kicked and looks unflappable…despite playing alongside a certain Spaniard pretending to be a professional footballer.

I like the cut of his jib, and if you’ve seen his jib you’d like it too. Just don’t ask me how I saw it….

8/10.

Alberto Moreno

Alberto Moreno: 

The following is the review for Bertie ‘The Bollox’ Moreno from his last competitive game for Liverpool, a full 3 months ago…

How fitting that in a major European Final, Alberto Moreno delivered his best ever performance….

FOR SEVILLA.

If you come out before the match stating that you wouldn’t celebrate the winner in this match because it’s against your old side, and you then perform wonders for your old side through sheer incompetence, then you have a major problem on your hands Bertie.

His positional play leaves NASA satellites searching for him, without success. His decision making makes Donald Trump seem like Yoda. His tackling is worse than Steven Hawking.

The rumour mill has seen LFC linked with young left-backs, perhaps because Bertie was seen as the future.

If that hasn’t changed by this morning, I despair.

BERTIE, YOU’RE A BOLLOX.

His consistency is amazing….as is the decision by LFC not to buy a left-back…F*CK SAKE….

2/10

Wijnaldum.jpg

Geordie Wine Gum: 

 

I’m not sure how to rate the Geordie Wine Gum, because I’m not entirely sure what he was supposed to do this afternoon.

If he was supposed to be a defensive midfielder, then he wasn’t really that good, as the Liverpool midfield didn’t exist…

If he was supposed to be an attacking midfielder, he was outstanding, making numerous bursting raids into the box, one of which led to the second goal by Lallana.

Maybe Jurgen left it up to himself to decide? Who knows? He has shown glimpses of certain qualities, but whether those qualities bring what the side desperately need remains to be seen.

7/10

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson:

Oh Captain, My Captain.

A line synonymous with ‘Dead Poets Society’, a movie starring Robin Williams which divides opinion like few others. Some worship it, and consider it to be a modern marvel and a guide to life itself. Others consider it to be a load of pretentious old twaddle, a movie worshiped by pseudo-intellectuals who need to be told how to ‘feel’.

Jordan Henderson is a bit like ‘Dead Poets Society’. Some will stand up on tables and scream their love for him. Others will roll their eyes and make the ‘w*nker’ hand signal at those standing on the table.

Without European football this season, it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens when Emre Can is up to speed and fully fit. Will our Captain be cheering from the sidelines? Will he be leading from the front? Or will he be in the library of his lavish home deciding to take decisive action? (That last one is a potential spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie….)

Time will tell. He was alright today.

6/10.

Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

Losing the ball 40 yards from your own goal with a ‘Cruyff Turn’ that was so telegraphed the New York Times had reported it last week, is not a good idea. It was a stupid idea, done at a stupid time, done stupidly, and led to the opener for Theo Walcott who couldn’t believe his luck.

Scoring the goal to give us the lead with lovely chest control and a fine finish from an ever-tightening angle, is a good idea.

Lallana could thrive this season playing behind the main striker with the likes of Firmino, Coutinho and particularly Mané to link up with. However if he’s going to continue to do daft flicks/tricks/turns deep in his own half, he won’t be asked to play that deep in the future.

7/10

 Coutinho.jpg

Philippe Coutinho: 

Dearest Philippe,

 

I missed you this summer. I know I wanted us to take a break from each other after the Sevilla game, but I was angry and let my emotions get the better of me.

I hope you summered well. I got your postcards from the Copa America, and I’m delighted you had some fun while away. I meanwhile just sat in a darkened room looking at pictures of you for three months, hoping and praying that we’d be ok when you returned.

I’m so glad we are. You really are my everything, especially when you whip 30 yard free kicks into the top corner and follow that up with another goal. Mind you, pulling up with an injury when clean through for a hat-trick is worrying. Let me know what the docs say.

Love you.

xxx

9/10.

Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

Bobby, what the HELL are you doing with your hair? Sort it out mate.

Good hustle today, without ever actually doing something substantial. He caused the Arsenal back four all sorts of issues and led the team press perfectly. Whatever formation we play this season, with whatever personnel, Roberto Firmino will be at the heart of it all.

Oh, and that drag-around-backheel…took my breath away….

8/10.

Sadio Mane.jpg

Sadio Mané:

 

HOLY SH*TBALLS…

WHAT. A. GOAL.

What a performance to go with it too. This guy gives Liverpool something they didn’t have enough of last year…pure, raw, filthy pace. The kind of pace that helps Usain Bolt pull birds.

I’ll admit that I had my reservations when the deal was announced. I felt that he was a ‘Contract’ player, turning it on for the ‘big’ games or when his contract was up for renewal. I dearly hope I’m wrong, and he started amazingly with his displays against Arsenal and Barcelona, some lovely big games.

Oh….

8/10

Substitutes:

Emre Can

Emre Can: 

 

Slowly building his way up to match fitness…and I wish he’d bloody hurry up.

He’s the only out and out DM in the squad, and we desperately need one on the top of their game.

We need Emre to activate ‘BeastMode’ asap, and leave it activated all season long.

7/10

Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart:

 

Do you think Kevin is an optimist or a pessimist?

If he’s an optimist, he’ll be chuffed he was called upon by Klopp to stop the rot, hold the fort and get us over the finish line.

If he’s a pessimist, he’ll think he was only called upon because Lucas is broken and we’re allergic to buying DM’s.

Anyway, I’m still dreaming of that first time forward pass he played against Barcelona that left Iniesta questioning his very existence…

 7/10

Divock Origi

Divock Origi: 

 

Looked really strong when brought on.

Hey! I’m a poet and I don’t know it! Although I just typed that, so I do know it. Ah feck it.

Depending on Mr. Sturridge, this could be a BIG season for Divock Origi.

7/10


Jurgen Klopp Unhappy

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Don’t ever apologise for giving a player a piggyback when they’ve given you a 4-1 lead away at Arsenal. You have nothing to apologise for. If I were you I’d have stripped down to my keks and run a full lap of the Emirates. Now THAT would cause us to ‘lose concentration’.

We’ve a PIG of a start to the season thanks to the Fixtures List and the Main Stand renovations, but if we can get through that near the top of the table, then we could put the pedal to the metal and see where this season takes us.

I can’t bloody wait, and we’ve got the right man behind the wheel.

8/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne and @ByTheMinLFC). 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.