Leg-weary Liverpool were far from their best as they dropped two points to relegation-threatened Sunderland in a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light on Monday. Perhaps that was to be expected given how little time they’d had to recover from their win over Manchester City on Saturday and how few changes Jurgen Klopp made to his team, but having twice held the lead, they will be disappointed not to have picked up maximum points.
The players dug deep and put plenty of effort in despite having less than 48 hours rest since an energy-sapping victory over Man City. Fatigue meant they weren’t at their energetic best, but the effort certainly cannot be questioned.
Missing out on an opportunity to really apply some pressure on leaders Chelsea, and seeing Daniel Sturridge leave the field with an injury will dampen spirits on Merseyside. Losing Sturridge for any length of time is the last thing the Reds need given that Sadio Mane is heading off to the African Nations Cup.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Surprisingly, Klopp made only one change to his side, and even that was enforced, as skipper Jordan Henderson was ruled out through injury. It was a risk that backfired, and it’s no coincidence that the fresh-legged Sturridge was by far Liverpool’s best performer. Klopp should have utilised his squad better for this one.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Simon Mignolet, 7 — A good performance from the Belgian, who made a couple of decent early stops and then one top-class save to deny Jermain Defoe. He was beaten by two penalties, one of which he got close to but just couldn’t reach.
DF Nathaniel Clyne, 7 — One of the few players who didn’t lack his usual sharpness. Charged up and down the right flank all day, frequently getting into dangerous positions in and around the penalty area. He put in some good crosses but will be annoyed that he didn’t do better with a late chance that he failed to connect with.
DF Dejan Lovren, 6 — For most of the game Liverpool’s defence were in control, but they had a few wobbly spells that ultimately proved their undoing. That wasn’t anything to do with Lovren, who was solid and dealt with everything that came his way, making a couple of excellent blocks. He made his presence felt in attack too, setting up the opener for Sturridge.
DF Ragnar Klavan, 5 — Started the game shakily and his usually reliable passing let him down on numerous occasions. Conceded a soft penalty too, and although he improved after the break, this was not a good day for the Estonian.
DF James Milner, 5 — The veteran was visibly lacking his usual dynamism and was uncharacteristically wasteful in possession. He picked up a stupid booking for kicking the ball away, and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Alberto Moreno at half-time. Should have been rested for this one.
MF Emre Can, 6 — Struggled at times in the first half playing Henderson’s role, but the young German improved markedly in the second period, did some sterling work winning back possession and was efficient with his passing.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 — Started brightly and went close to a spectacular goal when his 20-yard curler was tipped over by Vito Mannone. Faded badly the longer the game went on, and by the time he was eventually substituted, he had become a liability, continually losing possession. Another who should have been rested.
MF Adam Lallana, 7 — Not at his best, and another who clearly suffered from heavy legs, but he still made his presence felt in the opposition box by twice creating chances for teammates with clever back-heels. Went close himself in stoppage time when he was denied by Mannone.
FW Sadio Mane, 6 — A mixed bag from the Senegal man, who scored but also needlessly conceded a penalty with a reckless handball. He wasn’t at his best but kept going, and he’ll be badly missed over the next few weeks while on international duty.
FW Daniel Sturridge, 8 (Man of the Match)– The freshest legs in the team, and it certainly showed. Looked dangerous every time he had the ball, scored once and, but for some good saves by Mannone, would have had a hat trick. Worryingly went off injured late on.
FW Roberto Firmino, 5 — His work rate can’t be faulted, but the Brazilian struggled to make much impression on the game and was frequently wasteful in possession. The club will hope that the return to fitness of compatriot Philippe Coutinho will get him going again as he’s not looked himself for several weeks now.
DF Alberto Moreno, 6 — A half-time replacement for Milner, he offered plenty of energy on the left, but too often his teammates were slow in getting the ball to him when in space. Had little to do defensively.
FW Divock Origi, NR — Should have either started or at the very least been brought on sooner given he was much fresher than the likes of Firmino and Mane. He was initially brought on to play with Sturridge but then ended up leading the line on his own after the England man’s departure.
MF Lucas Leiva, NR — Replaced Sturridge as Klopp looked to close out the game but ended up conceding the free kick from which Sunderland equalised. The decision was incredibly harsh, but if this is to be the Brazilian’s last appearance for the club, as he’s been linked with a move to Inter Milan, it’s somewhat apt that he’d go out in this way, as he’s made a habit of conceding fouls around his own box.