Sandwiched in between two legs of the Europa League quarterfinal against Borussia Dortmund, Stoke City’s visit to Anfield could have provided multiple headaches for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. Instead, it was a dominant display from the Reds, as they turned on the style in a 4-1 defeat of the Potters.
Apart from getting the win, Klopp also received an added bonus in that he was able to completely rest Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho ahead of the return leg against Dortmund. Divock Origi came on as a half-time substitute, and got in on the act with two second-half goals after Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge had scored either side of Bojan Krkic’s equalizer for Stoke.
Here are my views on how each player fared today.
Simon Mignolet – 6.5
In general, Mignolet would like more afternoons like this. Although he was left helpless for Bojan’s goal, Stoke barely threatened his goal otherwise. He did make an outstanding save from a Geoff Cameron header late in the second-half. But I’m not even going to get started about his distribution.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6.5
A solid display from Clyne. Neither Afellay nor Pieters was given a sniff on the right flank. Could have done more on the attacking side though. He bombed forward on multiple occasions but to no avail.
Martin Skrtel – 6.5
It was a shaky start from the Slovakian with Crouch troubling him early on. But he grew into the game and looked much more secure as the game wore on.
Kolo Toure – 8
It was Toure’s mistake that led to Stoke’s goal, as he lost track of Bojan. Apart from that, a classy display from the Ivorian, who showed off his ball-playing ability with some terrific passes and touches.
Alberto Moreno – 8.5
Can we get this Alberto Moreno to turn up more often? He started the game like a bullet train, and tortured Phil Bardsley throughout the game. Defensively, he had a very good battle with Shaqiri which he came out of the better.
Kevin Stewart – 7
An assured performance from the youngster on his first Premier League start. He wasn’t afraid to make challenges and used the ball pretty well too.
Joe Allen – 7
What a revelation he has been under Klopp. Once again, it was a brisk performance from Allen as he pressed reasonably well, was strong in the tackle and was very neat in possession.
James Milner – 8
The captain on the day, Milner, led by example. Got himself two assists and was generally involved in all of our good play. And as Milner always does, he worked his socks off.
Sheyi Ojo – 7
Early on in the game, it looked as though the nerves got to the youngster as he looked very tentative. But he came to life with a moment of brilliance to set up Sturridge’s goal.
Roberto Firmino – 6.5
As always, Firmino looked lively. He was moving around into space, and dragging defenders with him, but his quality on the ball let him down on more than a few occasions.
Daniel Sturridge – 8
It was a fantastic response from Sturridge to being dropped for the game in Dortmund. He was lively, used the ball brilliantly, got other players involved and scored a goal for his troubles too.
Divock Origi – 9
Origi continues to go from strength to strength. After a fabulous display in Dortmund, he tormented Ryan Shawcross after coming on at half-time for Ojo. Scored two goals, although I think the second one was definitely intended as a cross for Sturridge.
Adam Lallana – 6
Came on for Firmino midway through the second-half, and did what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him do. Pressed the life out of the Stoke defenders and midfielders for the first 10-15 minutes that he was on. After that, like the rest of the team, he took his foot off the pedal.
Lucas Leiva – N/A
Came on for Joe Allen with around ten minutes to play. With Henderson injured, Lucas being back gives Klopp more options.