I HAD written this introduction in my head on about 70 and it was moody as anything. It talked about consistency and how it separates winners from everyone else. It also talked about how the real problem, more than consistency, was quality and that the team looked mid-table, and therefore it shouldn’t be a surprise when it played like it.
And then we won.
Much of the above is still relevant, of course. You won’t win enough games across a season playing like that, and we are unlikely to win trophies without some additions to the players who started today. But who wants to hear all that when you’ve just won away with the last kick of the game?
Our end looked brilliant after the winner. Made up for them. Hope they’re up all night for Benteke.
Simon Mignolet 7
Good save early and very assured throughout. Seems a bit happier within himself. Good punch-catch balance.
Jon Flanagan 5
I’ll start with the caveat that Palace seem to destroy whatever full backs we pick with their endless supply of rapid lads who can’t kick it in the goal. One great piece of defending when under pressure from Adebayor, but he really needs to improve his crossing if he wants to play right back for this team.
Alberto Moreno 5.5
Extra half point because he was a bit better than Flanno, but it feels a stretch to give him a 6. Needs to find another way to tackle aside from flying through the air as referees don’t like it and it keeps getting him in trouble. Just like he needs to find a new way of kicking a football that isn’t just putting your laces through it. Although he did nearly score from one of those to be fair.
Dejan Lovren 7
It looks a slightly uncomfortable partnership with Mamadou Sakho but individually they did well. Loved him at right back in a ‘never want to see it again’ type of way. That slide tackle to release himself down the wing was the highlight of the day. Took responsibility when we went to 10 as well.
Mamadou Sakho 6
Still a bit hesitant on occasion, and his judgement on when to play and when to clear isn’t perfect either. Although, generally, I’d favour a centre half whose instinct is to bring it down on his chest rather than just head everything. Anyway, dealt with crosses well.
Emre Can 8
Thought he was our best player. Aside from that fast break which he ran into their defender. Bad Emre. But apart from that he looked to run the game and won it back well, too. Pretty sure he’s going to be great now.
Jordan Henderson 6
Dunno really. Think he did ok. Did he? You should probably notice your captain a bit more, ideally. But you sense he’s just trying to get to the end of something, like a Monday in work in April 2014.
James Milner 4
What a wally. I’d have given him a second yellow for turning into their defender five seconds before.
Adam Lallana 5
Thought he started well but faded out of it pretty badly.
Roberto Firmino 6
What do you judge him on? A pathetic attempt to block their goal or the coolness in slotting away the equaliser? Because there really wasn’t much in between. Can’t argue with his record at the moment, though.
Divock Origi 6
A really willing runner and took some blows to the back, too. Reckon Scott Dann fouled every bit of him at one point. But still didn’t really see him scoring.
Philippe Coutinho 5
Seemed to struggle to get into it. James Milner getting sent straight away obviously didn’t help.
Christian Benteke 6
Probably wished he’d had a couple of touches of the ball before getting the chance from the corner. After that it looked like it was going to be a load of what we’d seen before. But then he started running off the last man and crazy things happened. Who knew defenders didn’t like it?
Kolo Toure 6
Was a bit annoyed when he came on because it was a defender for an attacker at a time I thought we were more likely to score. But then Kolo did well and we won the game. Which is why Jürgen is in London on the big bucks and I’m sat in Betws-y-Coed drinking a latte.