Liverpool defeated Stoke City 2-1 this afternoon. The come from behind result left Jurgen Klopp, and his Liverpool team delighted as they jumpstarted what was beginning to look like a diminishing top four shout.
Here are the player rating and a few talking points from Saturday’s thriller.
Firmino and Coutinho Back In Form
The Brazilian duo have been electric together at Liverpool, but have gone through some tough runs of form this season.
Today, though, they looked a different class above any players on the pitch, and they were only on for the second half.
After missing out with illness and fatigue, Coutinho and Firmino proved a big point with their second half performances. If they are on form, Liverpool can finish out these last few games in a top four place.
The two carved Stoke City open with their skill and intelligence as Liverpool dictated the second 45. Their goals were even sweeter as Liverpool completed a massive comeback in Stoke.
Coutinho has now scored in his last four matches (Brazil against Paraguay, Everton, Bournemouth, and Stoke) and became the highest scoring Brazilian in Premier League history. The goal he scored against Paraguay for Brazil has seemed to kick the little magician back into the form that Liverpool fans have fallen in love with over the last few years.
For Firmino, he scored one of the Premier League goals of the season with his stunner. It was Firmino’s tenth of the season in the Premier League and one he will never forget. The Brazilian channeled his inner Luis Suarez with this strike.
Goal of the season by Roberto Firmino ⚽???? pic.twitter.com/Hmc5nNYzew
— Fanatic kopites (@Fanatic_LFC) April 8, 2017
Jurgen Klopp Nearly Costs Liverpool Again
Earlier in the week, Klopp made a change that ultimately led to their demise against Bournemouth when he decided to bring Matip on for Coutinho and go to a defensive back five against a Bournemouth side that had barely touched the ball in their half down 2-1.
Today, Klopp implemented a back three similar to that of Chelsea, but it was shocking to watch, especially in the first half when his side would go 1-0 down.
Klopp’s set up allowed Origi and Woodburn to be isolated up top while Stoke patiently wore down Liverpool’s wing backs.
While Liverpool would go on to get all three points, they were the inferior side for much of the first half and brief periods in the second half. If it were not for a Simon Mignolet wonder show, Klopp’s team could have easily been defeated 3-0.
Klopp’s decision to start Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold was also one of confusion. With a fit-again Daniel Sturridge on the bench, why did Klopp decide against a Sturridge-Origi partnership up front?
Biggest Win of The Season
While it was certainly not pretty, this was Liverpool’s biggest win of the season so far. Forget the wins against Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, and Everton; this was a match they had to win and did win.
If Klopp’s team had dropped more points, which looked likely throughout the first half, their top four race would have been severely dented.
Thanks to an inspired second half performance, especially by Coutinho and Firmino, Liverpool finally proved they can win without Sadio Mane.
Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the players stepped up and saved Klopp from further blushes.
Simon Mignolet- 9 (Man of the Match)
Without Mignolet between the sticks today, Stoke probably would have scored at least 3.
The Belgian made some incredible point-blank saves to rescue Liverpool when they needed him most.
This save by Mignolet kept us in the game. He has been incredibly solid recently. pic.twitter.com/vPy9GV7Uec
— ㅤ (@VintageFirmino) April 8, 2017
It has been great to see him produce this season.
Dejan Lovren- 6
Not the best, but not the worst from Lovren.
Nearly gifted Arnautovic a goal in the first half with a poor clearance, but was spared the embarrassment when the Austrian could only hit the side-netting.
Also could have done much more to put Walters off for the Stoke opener, but the Shaqiri cross was sublime.
Made some good tackles and was unlucky to have not scored when his header was denied by the woodwork.
Joel Matip- 6
Like Lovren, Matip seemed to struggle a bit with the newly implemented back three.
It was not his worst performance, but he also was lacking a bit at the back.
Ragner Klavan- 5
A five might be generous.
Klavan had another poor performance today.
The Estonian looked exposed against Xherdan Shaqiri and allowed the Swiss winger to glide by him during the opening goal.
It has not been a great week for Klavan, who had looked solid in other matches this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold- 4
Rightly brought off at halftime by Klopp.
Alexander-Arnold looked a bit in over his head trying to deal with the physicality of Stoke City.
Still has a very bright future, though. This performance should not stray any fans away from his abilities, just was not his day.
Emre Can- 7
Can is another player back in form at the right time for Jurgen Klopp. With Henderson and Lallana out, Emre has had to step up massively these past couple of weeks and he has done so with class.
Was brilliant again today. His physicality was on display as he controlled the midfield for large portions of the match.
Gini Wijnaldum- 6
The Dutchman was lucky to have not gifted Stoke their second goal in the second half.
He made up for his poor first half performance with a wonderful assist for Firmino’s wonder strike.
Like Can, Wijnaldum is really beginning to establish himself in the heart of Liverpool’s midfield.
Nathaniel Clyne- 5
Not the best from Clyne today. Looked a bit uncomfortable at wing back and was easily beaten on multiple occasions by Shaqiri.
Did not offer much else going forward either.
James Milner- 5
Offered practically nothing in a further forward first half role.
Was better in the second half as the left wing back, but was not too impressive overall.
As is always the case, he was a willing worker, though. Probably should have had a chance from the penalty spot in the first half as well.
Ben Woodburn- 4
Like Alexander-Arnold, Woodburn looked outmatches physically on many occasions.
He could not get involved much and was rightly brought off at halftime.
Divock Origi- 5
After scoring in two consecutive matches, Divock Origi looked a bit lost up front today.
The Belgian received no service whatsoever and could not create much for himself either.
Wasted a few decent chances as well.
Philippe Coutinho- 9
Changed the match when he came on with Firmino to start the second half.
His goal put Liverpool on the front foot for the last twenty minutes and made him the Premier League’s all-time leading Brazilian goalscorer.
The Little Magician is back on form for Liverpool.
Coutinho (24) becomes the Brazilian with most goals (30) in EPL history! pic.twitter.com/7oGiNCLFGA
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) April 8, 2017
Roberto Firmino- 9
Like his Brazilian compatriot, Firmino was instrumental in changing this match.
Was quick with the ball at his feet and scored one of the goals of the season with his thunder strike in the 72nd minute. It was his 10th of the season and ensured a vital three points for Liverpool.
Without Firmino and Coutinho, the scoreline would have been much different, and Liverpool’s top four hopes could have been eliminated.
Daniel Sturridge- 6
Looked pretty decent in his return from injury.
Will hopefully get some more chances to prove himself down the stretch.
Linked up well with Coutinho and Firmino during Liverpool’s comeback. Could Klopp use Sturridge in a front three with the Brazilians in the near future?
68th min – Stoke 1-0 Liverpool
Sturridge comes on
72th min – Stoke 1-2 Liverpool pic.twitter.com/TPbL5DH679
— Anything Liverpool (@Anything_LFC) April 8, 2017
Jurgen Klopp- 5
Like he did against Bournemouth, Klopp almost screwed Liverpool with his tactical setup.
The back three will hopefully never be seen again this season.
His players bailed him out, though. It has been a frustrating week for Klopp.