Liverpool had their perfect start to the season ended as they crashed out of the Carabao Cup to Chelsea at Anfield, with an Eden Hazard stunner proving the difference. Here’s how we rated the players:
Simon Mignolet: 6.5
With Alisson the undisputed number one at Anfield now, Mignolet is going to have little chances at the club but he performed decently in his first performance since January. Made a few key saves from Morata and was key to keeping us in the game after our sloppy first half. Could do nothing about Emerson’s equaliser but perhaps should have got down quicker for Hazard’s goal.
It’s clear how desperate he was for a move last summer, but there can be no complaints about his professionalism and the fact he’s a very capable back-up keeper.
Nathaniel Clyne: 6
Clyne had a fairly decent game on his return to the side, and generally looked solid from a defensive standpoint. He dealt with Willian’s threat well and was there to sweep up when needed. He doesn’t offer as much going forward as Trent, which is why he’s unlikely to be a starter, but it was a dependable performance.
Dejan Lovren: 5
It was a mixed bag from Lovren in his first performance of the season — he made a few decent challenges but let Morata get ahead of him far too often. He looks rusty and on his day he can be a world-class centre-back but it’s going to be very difficult for him to take Gomez’s place.
Joel Matip: 5.5
Matip wasn’t as impressive as he was on Saturday against Southampton, and there were moments of miscommunication between him and other members of the back four. He lost his man for Emerson’s equaliser and it was like the Liverpool of old with a set-piece proving our undoing. Disappointing after the weekend.
Alberto Moreno: 3
I usually think Moreno gets an unfair amount of criticism from fans but it’s fair to say he was dreadful today. Reckless in the challenge, a lack of defensive discipline and didn’t offer a lot going forward either. He was absolutely torn apart by Hazard for his goal and if anyone’s capable of making Victor Moses looking like a decent winger, it’s a problem.
Fabinho was evidently off the pace on his full debut for Liverpool, but there were still signs that he can go onto be a fundamental part of Klopp’s system. He wanted too much time on the ball and was somewhat wayward with his passing, yet won the ball back well with some crunching tackles. He needs to adapt to life at Liverpool but the early showings are positive.
James Milner: 5.5
After his phenomenal start to the season, Millie had a uncharacteristically sloppy game. He gave the ball away one too many times and wasn’t able to get a hold of the game like he would have wanted. It was probably a wise decision by Klopp to take him off around the 55th minute mark with Saturday in mind.
Naby Keita: 6.5
The energy and the guile was certainly there from Keita, and he showed signs of exactly why Klopp was so desperate to bring him to the club, but similarly to Fabinho, a transition period is still needed. He pressed and drove forward well, while his shot was parried by Caballero which led to Sturridge’s goal. His passing was off at times and he was harshly booked in the second half. Should do much better for Hazard’s winner though.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 7.5 (Man of the Match)
If there was one thing you couldn’t fault Shaqiri for this evening, it would be his work rate. He was everywhere, running, pressing and being the exact opposite of the lazy claims he’d gained before his transfer. Has a tendency to shoot from distance too frequently though. Look for him to play a key role this season.
Daniel Sturridge: 6.5
Sturridge had a poor first half and was barely involved in the action, yet was a much more important part of the action after the break. He took his goal exceptionally well with a fantastic finish and almost scored a worldie but rattled the bar. Has to lose a few points for that miss though — my god.
Sadio Mane: 6
Mane’s performance was energetic and he worked hard, but it didn’t really come off for him. He tried to do much at times and he seemed to miss the presence of Firmino and Salah on the pitch. Will hopefully be back firing on Saturday at the Bridge.
Jordan Henderson: 6.5
Hendo had a positive influence when he came on and helped settle the tempo of the game well. Should have done better in the dying minutes when he overhit his pass for Sturridge.
Roberto Firmino: 6
Bobby provided his typical energy up front but could do little to change the outcome.
Mo Salah: N/A
Came on far too late to change anything — should have been on much earlier.
Jurgen Klopp: 6
Klopp made eight changes to the side that eased past Southampton on the weekend and on paper, the team should have been strong enough to better Chelsea, but it wasn’t to be.
Klopp really needs to win silverware this season and he clearly saw the Carabao Cup as a good opportunity to do so, while extending our perfect start to the season, so it’s disappointing to bow out so early yet again.
Hazard’s goal was outstanding and he’ll rightly earn plaudits for it, but Klopp left the substitutions far too late to change the game. This is something he is often guilty of and with the likes of Keita and Sturridge looking jaded, Salah and Firmino should have been on much sooner and the game should have been wrapped up.
A lot of the squad (namely Moreno) showed they aren’t good enough for this club, while Klopp has been vindicated in his decision to not start Fabinho so far, who clearly needs to adjust to the system.
Fans will say that an early exit could be a blessing in disguise, but ultimately a trophy is a trophy and it would have been good for us to progress in the competition. Let’s hope Saturday proves a better result.