Liverpool 2-3 Swansea City
Premier League, Anfield
January 21, 2017
Goals: Firmino 55′, 69′; Llorente 48′, 52′, Sigurdsson 74′
Simon Mignolet – 6 (out of 10)
Klopp has performed an impressive feat in playing both Mignolet and Loris Karis into form by juggling their duties in recent weeks, but the fact remains that Liverpool need a better goalkeeper than their No. 22.
Nathaniel Clyne – 5
Speaking on Friday, Klopp revealed that Clyne had taken two running sessions to test his recovery from a rib injury, with the right-back only rejoining full training on Friday evening.
Clyne looked laboured at times pushing up and tracking back, with his loose marking in the buildup to Fernando Llorente’s second goal a clear red flag, while his supporting work in attack was not up to scratch.
Dejan Lovren – 5
Lovren had been talked at as one of the major success stories of Klopp’s reign in the opening months of the season, but in the absence of Joel Matip the Croatian has looked noticeably shakier at the back.
This continued against the Swans, with his bizarre headed clearance leading to the away side’s first, and his questionable decision-making alongside Ragnar Klavanproving costly.
Ragnar Klavan – 4
With Matip returning to the fold after his farcical eligibility dispute with FIFA and FECAFOOT, Klavan’s place in the starting lineup is likely to come under threat in the coming days.
The 31-year-old was booked in the first half for obstructing the onrushing Martin Olsson, and left in a vulnerable position as a result, while it was his shanked clearance that gifted Gylfi Sigurdsson the winner.
With Mamadou Sakho yet to secure a move away this January, should Klopp swallow his pride and welcome the Frenchman back into the fold?
James Milner – 5.5
After a rest in midweek, with Alberto Moreno providing able cover in his absence, Milner returned to left-back duties against a side he had scored against in both of his previous outings for the Reds—but he failed to make the difference this time around.
Sent 12 crosses into the box, but only three found their intended target, which serves to encapsulate his performance: full of endeavour, but lacking incision.
Jordan Henderson – 4.5
Captaining Liverpool for the 50th time in the league on Saturday afternoon, Henderson returned to the fold after a recurrence of a troubling heel injury that looks set to dog him throughout the campaign.
But with Will Ferrell watching on in the stands, Henderson struggling in the anchorman role, regularly handing possession over to Swansea, marring the Reds’ push for parity throughout.
Emre Can – 3
While his form has been largely inconsistent of late, Can was excellent in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United, with his defensive contribution and support in attack providing a welcome bridge in the middle of the park.
It couldn’t have been much worse against the Swans, however, with the 22-year-old producing a sluggish display lacking the speed of thought required to thwart a hardworking away midfield.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 5.5
Wijnaldum’s last contribution in a Liverpool shirt came with a tame effort trickling into David de Gea’s clutches in the closing stages of the draw with United, depriving the Reds of a late winner.
While the Dutchman is subtle in his influence, this largely faded into staid irrelevance at Anfield, with Klopp needing more thrust from his £25 million summer signing.
Adam Lallana – 6
With Sadio Mane progressing through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, Klopp has turned to Lallana as his utility man in attack, moving away from his successful role in midfield.
Drifting between duties in the final third, Lallana was one of the only players to look capable of grabbing a goal for the Reds, but was unable to replicate his late heroics in the 5-4 win away to Norwich City a year ago.
Philippe Coutinho – 5.5
Making his first Premier League start since picking up an ankle injury in November’s 2-0 win at home to Sunderland, the pressure was on Coutinho to perform.
But just as against Plymouth Argyle on Wednesday night, while the 24-year-old did showcase his skill, quick feet and creativity at times, he remained at odds with the tempo of the game, still needing to recapture his sharpness.
Roberto Firmino – 8 (Man of the Match)
With Coutinho restored to the starting lineup, Firmino was able to return to his most effective role as Liverpool’s centre-forward, after an unproductive stint covering for his compatriot on the left.
Not often is there such a disparity between one individual display and that of their team-mates, but Firmino’s endeavour, class and cutting edge were undermined by a dismal showing in support.
His second goal of the afternoon, a sensational half-volley, on the turn and under pressure, serves as unequivocal proof that Firmino should be played as a No. 9 and built around.
Daniel Sturridge (on for Coutinho, 56′) – 4 – Really struggling to prove his worth of late.
Divock Origi (on for Can, 70′) – 4 – Much like Sturridge, with another flaccid display.
Joel Matip (on for Wijnaldum, 90+4′) – N/A – Needed back in the starting lineup pronto.
Subs not used: Karius, Lucas, Moreno, Woodburn
Jurgen Klopp – 6
Navigating a busy January schedule, Klopp made another 10 changes to his starting lineup following Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory away to Plymouth Argyle in their FA Cup third-round replay.
The absence of any of Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo from his substitutes’ bench was something of a surprise, but came with key players such as Clyne and Coutinho returning.
Hamstrung by FIFA’s late call to clear Matip as eligible for selection, Klopp’s starting lineup was largely straightforward, though he made a big call in leaving both Origi and Sturridge on the substitutes’ bench.
The German will have been hugely disappointing with his side’s performance in the first half, and while Firmino shone after the break, the second half will have been even more demoralising.
Klopp did little wrong from the sidelines, with his senior selection letting him down when they were needed most.