No type of win betters Liverpool’s deserved 1-0 win over West Brom on Sunday.
Hammering sides often can be very entertaining for the impartial – but there is nothing more satisfying than the wins where it requires a dogged mentality, determination and grit.
The Reds coped through adversity in a nerve-wracking finale; which just goes to show that Liverpool are beginning to notch up ‘ugly’ wins; having previously being criticised for trying to be too entertaining and not divulging any mettle where it’s needed. If these of wins can be achieved when the side really need it next season with a new-look side, you surely have to regard the Merseysiders as title contenders.
The win put Jurgen Klopp’s side further in pole position for qualification in the Champions League proper next season – currently six points clear from the rest of the pack.
So, who impressed at the Hawthorns on Sunday? Here are three potential candidates for Man Of The Match…
3 – Emre Can
Can was a player who was woefully out of sorts shortly after the festive period – but to give credit to him, the German has been awesome since.
Ever since the contract talks and his links to Juventus, the 23-year old has just never looked back; and turned in another superb performance.
With Jurgen Klopp reverting to his 4-3-3 tactical blueprint, Can was given the license to roam forward as Lucas Leiva gave the back four more security.
But that’s not to say he didn’t track back and cover for the defence. Whenever left-back James Milner was found wanting, he was quick to cover and snuff out any potential opportunities for West Brom.
He provided the midfield balance that Georigino Wijnaldum was seemingly unable to provide in the first forty-five minutes, as well as generally acting like an engine in the middle of the park. His energy was unwavering throughout, putting in another superb shift.
With performances like this, you really have to starting pondering when Liverpool are finally going to offer Can a new contract.
2 – Simon Mignolet
Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has been under the radar of many fans this season, like Can, for some inconsistent performances. It really reached a nadir in Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat at Hull. But, in recent weeks, he has really started to endear himself with fans.
The Belgian pulled off two terrific saves at Stoke last week to ensure the Reds came away from the bet365 Stadium with all three points – and aside his reflexes, he’s beginning to command his area with marked improvement.
Although he was tested less than expected, he did very well when called upon. His close-range save from what seemed an inevitable equaliser from Matt Phillips again bailed the Reds out.
The training on set-pieces was clearly mastered well, as Mignolet dealt with most of them well.
1 – Roberto Firmino
Believe it or not, there are some Liverpool fans who are lukewarm on Roberto Firmino.
‘All he does is press’ is a stereotype often associated with the Brazilian – although he’s not a 20-goal-a-season striker, his off the ball work can never be overlooked.
His link up play was excellent, and created space for others and got himself in good positions on multiple occasions thanks to his astute movement.
On another day, Firmino could’ve had an assist or two if not for some poor finishing – generally, he was a very creative influence.
There is no doubting the importance the Brazilian will play in Liverpool’s run-in until the end of the season.
Rarely heard his name mentioned by any supporters. He did what Henderson’s been doing all season – breaking up the play nicely.
His flick-on for Firmino’s goal was superb, and generally dealt well with the physical demands of the game. Haven’t associated the word ‘composure’ with Lucas often, but it definitely is applicable here.
Matip turned in yet another commanding display at centre-back, which is really becoming the norm now.
He was very composed with the ball at his feet, and dealt very well with the onslaught of late set-pieces from the Baggies.
With consistently good performances like these every week, you cannot help but wonder how the Cameroonian would benefit from a CB partner than inspires more confidence.