ON the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a 5-0 against Swansea.
At half time it felt like yet another one of those when The Reds would inevitably pay for their profligacy, but quite the opposite. They ran out in the second half and proceeded to fustigate the Welsh side.
After Jesse Lingard United FC could only muster a point against Burnley earlier in the day, it was crucial that Jürgen Klopp’s men took advantage to close the gap, and that’s just what they did thanks to some sumptuous attacking play and an admittedly poor visiting team.
After a Christmas Day of eating, drinking and generally being merry, it’s always nice to not have football bring you crashing down to earth the following day. Thanks very much Liverpool for allowing the good times to roll.
Ooh, roll, good idea. Where’s that ham?…
Simon Mignolet: 6
Am a fully paid up member of the “replace Mignolet asap” club after his refusal to save things at Arsenal on Friday, but he did nothing wrong tonight. Albeit there was very little for him to do wrong, apart from making his first proper save of the game with the last action right at the end.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 9
Loved that game from Trenty. Made a couple of loose passes early on but aside from that was all over that right side, winning possession time and again, providing an out ball throughout and looking every bit a Premier League right back. Topped it off with a fantastic game-ending goal at the Kop end. They always look that much better when they go in off the bar too. Supposedly had all his family in for this one, which will make it all the sweeter.
Joel Matip: 7
As with Mignolet, hard to grade him given the lack of things to do. Must have wondered how long he’d been out of the game for when he returned to mark a lad called Oliver McBurnie, a lesser known character from the “Oor Wullie” comics with a penchant for arson, and beer mats for shinpads. Did his bits well enough.
Ragnar Klavan: 7
Feel like his ratings for the rest of time could be “Did the basics well”. Certain he’ll drop a clanger sooner rather than later to remind us why he’s not at the required standard, but of late it’s been hard to fault him, and made a few more good blocks and interceptions tonight.
Andy Robertson: 7
Expected slightly more of him going forward given the lack of ability and threat from the opposition, but was a level-headed performance if nothing else. Did add a lot in the final third during the second half flurry of goals, but as he came off for James Milner with 15 minutes to go you wonder if he’s just a bit knackered. Understandable after going from playing no football to all the football in a short period.
Emre Can: 7
In all honesty I’ve never really bought the idea of him as a defensive midfielder. He is constantly craving the chance to maraud forward, which in fairness perhaps makes him ideal for a game like this where you don’t really need a deep-lying mid. Had to shake off a knock in the first half, which was a concern given Jordan Henderson’s absence, but recovered to have a good second half.
Gini Wijnaldum: 7
Up until the hour mark I had Gini down at about a four or five. He was letting the game go past him as he has done with alarming regularity this season, and then when he did get the ball was largely making the wrong choice. Then he went on a mad run down the left and all of a sudden becomes the hub of the game. Was excellent in the last half hour and arguably the catalyst for Liverpool’s superb goal rush that put the game to bed.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 8
Similar to Wijnaldum in that he seemed to be struggling to get into the game, especially first half, but once he got a feel for things and Swansea allowed him more time, he came into his own and was really superb in the second period. Won it back plenty, started attacks and took his goal really well. I said when he signed that it was pointless focusing on his goal record at Arsenal as he will definitely score more here, and he’s already proving that to be the case. Loved the bit near the end where he tried to trick Sam Clucas into scoring the sixth.
Mohamed Salah: 7
A bit of an off night for Mo, and yet he still comes away with two assists. On the day where Harry Kane got his proverbial balls on the table and challenged Salah to a goal-off in the second half of the season, Mo just couldn’t get a hang of popping it in the net. That said, he does well to feed in Phil Coutinho for the first, and his unselfishness to square for Bobby Firmino for the fourth was testament to the lad and how little he probably cares that Kane has edged ahead of him. A hat trick against Leicester will suffice, Mo.
Philippe Coutinho: 8
What a way to start the game. As many times as you’ve seen him blam shots high and wide, there’s almost a tell about the way he smashes them top bin these days. You can sense from the body movement and pull back of the right boot that it’s heading in, and sure enough he got his 19th goal from outside the box since he joined in 2013. Always there to start moves off, gets a beautiful assist for the second and could have had even better numbers had his teammates finished better. Will go home for a well-earned pint and to continue reading through the 400 Christmas cards he’s received from Barcelona players past and present.
Roberto Firmino: 8
At half time I was wondering whether it would be a good idea to make those comparisons with Kane again, and then he goes and scores two in the second half. Might have even got a trick if he’d been allowed to stay on, but will be nicely rested to go and do things to Leicester on Saturday. His work to force the first goal was excellent, as was plenty of other occasions where he won it high up the pitch. You do wish he could also be a world-class finisher to go with everything else, but then if he was in all likelihood he wouldn’t be at Liverpool. He’d be at NASA getting experimented on.
Adam Lallana: 7
Looked sharp I thought. Maybe not with his final ball but his control, turns and flicks that we all remember and love were there. Would be tremendously handy if he’s able to get back to full fitness and be the Lallana he can be heading into 2018.
Dominic Solanke: 6
Might never ever score a goal. I can see a testimonial at age 35 where he’s allowed to take the ball from the halfway line and face an open goal, only to shank it wide ala Diana Ross at World Cup ’94. In all seriousness it will come for him. Does loads right but just needs one to go in off his arse or something, then the floodgates will open.
James Milner: N/A
Want Match of the Day to largely focus on Milner’s face when Klopp turns to him at 4-0 up against Swansea and goes “Millie, can you go play left back for a bit?”
Merry Christmas Reds!