Sunday, 12 January 2020

Spurs 0-1 Liverpool: Player ratings

Alisson Becker
Liverpool had to work for it, but a 1-0 triumph against Spurs in the capital was enough to move them an astounding 16 points clear of second-placed Leicester City. It was a determined performance from front to back, and Klopp’s men weathered some second-half scares to emerge victorious. Everybody came out of the game with credit, but there were some standout performers. Here are the player ratings:

Alisson: 9
You know you’re having a good game for Liverpool when Gary Neville singles you out for praise. The Sky co-commentator pointed out that a string of ‘easy’ saves for the stopper were only made to look so simple by the Brazilian’s impeccable positioning. His handling was also faultless – as Spurs pushed for an equaliser late on, any fumble could have proved decisive. The distribution was as accurate as ever: very occasionally he picked a pass that put the defence under unnecessary pressure, but ultimately the whole defensive unit has trust in each other’s ball-playing abilities. An excellent performance.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8
Anyone still determined to place question marks over Alexander-Arnold’s defensive qualities would have been given pause for thought by his performance in this game. He marshalled Heung-min Son excellently for most of the match, stepping up to the plate when the South Korean began to push forward more in search of a goal. A recovery challenge that put him off when he was through on goal was the most eye-catching moment, although much of his best work was done in quietly shepherding the wide forward into safe positions. It wasn’t Trent’s best day going forward, but we saw the other side of his game.

Joe Gomez: 6
The first game since his return to the side where Gomez has looked a bit shaky, but ultimately he still played his part in keeping another clean sheet. Lucas Moura caused him problems early on, and he was forced into a professional foul on Son, but he coped well with the threat of a second yellow hanging over him for much of the match. A loose pass that nearly let Dele Alli in on the hour mark earned him a rollicking off Virgil van Dijk, but his partner was able to bail him out.

Virgil van Dijk: 9
Another colossal performance from the big Dutchman. He kept his head when everyone else started to look a little shaky, injecting the element of composure needed to weather the eventual Spurs storm. His big challenge to deny Alli was a decisive moment in the match.

Andy Robertson: 7
A bit rash from Robertson at times – he lunged into a couple of hefty challenges, and was probably fortunate to end the game without a booking. He supplied some good deliveries, though, and was largely effective defensively. Serge Aurier put in a quality cross from his flank late on which Giovani Lo Celso should have converted, but it would be harsh to attach too much blame to the Scotsman.

Jordan Henderson: 7
The captain looked a little vulnerable under an early high press from Tottenham’s front line, but as Liverpool seized control and Spurs settled back into a more familiar Mourinho shape he came into his own. He put in a great cross for van Dijk, although the Dutchman was narrowly offside. Minutes later, he put in a brave header which many would have shied away from – this allowed Salah to pick out Firmino, who scored the goal which proved to be the winner. He was arguably guilty of being a little negative when Tottenham continued to sit back at 1-0, but in the end a second goal did not prove necessary.

Gini Wijnaldum: 5
Not the best day at the office for the Dutchman. He was largely anonymous going forward, occasionally showing off his ability to glide effortlessly past players but mostly just serving as a conduit to receive and recycle passes. On another day, he would have had to take the blame for an equaliser – it was he who was robbed by Lo Celso with fifteen minutes to go, forcing Alexander-Arnold to intervene and unsettle Son. He came into his own more in the final few minutes, where his continued energy was impressive and allowed Liverpool to escape out of their own half.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (subbed for Lallana, 61’): 7
The former Arsenal man looked like he was enjoying himself against Spurs, constantly providing progression from the middle of the park. This came at the cost of a few stray passes, but he regularly looked likely to make things happen in the first half. His driving runs were too much for a distinctly underwhelming Tottenham midfield. A quieter second half, withdrawn on the hour mark for Lallana.

Sadio Mane (subbed for Origi, 81): 8
This one may seem a little generous, but Mane put in an excellent all-round performance. In the first half he was a live wire, exploiting the inexperience of Japhet Tanganga and causing him real problems. He also picked some intelligent passes infield when others would have favoured the overlap, exploiting the lightweight Spurs midfield. He did not make the most of a difficult chance on 35 minutes, volleying into the ground and over, but took up all the right positions. In the second half he was less active going forward – he still forced a good save out of Paulo Gazzaniga from a header, but his most notable work was in his tracking back. He was regularly found deep in his own half supplying an extra body as Mourinho finally pushed men forward, so it was something of a surprise when Klopp replaced him with Origi.

Roberto Firmino: 8
A typical Firmino performance. He showed off some great feet, supplied a finish and routinely harried the Spurs back line. A remarkable turn early on was one that will make highlights reels, although he probably should have finished past Tanganga on the line. He got his revenge on the youngster in the 37th minute, completely selling him with a delicious feint before firing beyond the goalkeeper. A couple of flicks to teammates didn’t come off, but there was a merciful reduction in the misplaced simple passes that have crept into his game recently.

Mohamed Salah: 8 (subbed for Shaqiri, 90’)
Yes, it’s parity for all of the front three. It was a great collective performance from them: they all put in the defensive yards, while putting together some attacking combinations that were at times as intricate and fluid as we have seen from them. While Firmino got the goal, it could have been any of them – Salah had to overcome the attentions of Davinson Sanchez, who was usually quick to push out to him, but his tricky play in tight areas created more space for Mane in particular. He also bested the Colombian centre-half sometimes; he could not quite find a final finish of his own, but claimed the assist for the goal.

Lallana – 6
Origi and Shaqiri – N/A

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