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sábado, 22 de outubro de 2016
Liverpool 2-1 West Brom: Mane and Coutinho on target in hard-fought win - 5 things we learned
The Reds' set-piece weaknesses were exposed as they failed to go top but the win was a big one for Jurgen Klopp's men at Anfield
Liverpool were denied top spot in the Premier League by a late West Brom goal that again exposed their set piece weakness.
The Reds had produced a stunning display of creative, attacking football to sweep aside the visitors, and give them the two goal cushion that put them above Arsenal.
But after missing a host of chances to improve their goal difference further, the home team were punished when Gareth McAuley sparked a fight back after ramming home from a corner.
It left Liverpool clinging on at the end when they should have won so comfortably, after being inspired by the brilliance of Philippe Coutinho , who scored one goal, created another and had a hand in everything his team did.
Coutinho produced a stunning moment midway through the first half when his dummy set up Sadio Mane to fire home a technically brilliant volley from Roberto Firmino's cross.
And when the little Brazilian dummied two visiting defenders – who had to pay to get back in – before firing home at the near post, he showed Jurgen Klopp's side mean business in this season's title race.
1. Liverpool nice on the eye
They are still a work in progress, but Liverpool do possess a stunning quality at times.
The opening goal on 21 minutes showed that exquisitely. From Milner's initial pass, through Coutinho's brilliant, space-creating dummy, Can's poise and Firmino's radar guided cross – not to mention the audacious volleyed finish from Mane – it wasn't just a goal, but poetry in motion.
When they get it right, they are unstoppable.
2. More critics for Pulis
Tony Pulis receives so much criticism, but so much of it is misguided.
Ok, things didn't go to plan here at Anfield, but he deserves respect for the fact that it is no surprise when his teams come to places like this and get results.
Of course it's not pretty. You can't stifle opponents by playing free flowing football.
But when Liverpool are in this mood, there is no shame in trying first to stop them.
It's time critics got their heads around that fact.
3. Coutinho is a genius
He was desperately disappointing against United on Monday, rushing his passing to the point of hysteria, but he was only SO disappointing because you know he can do stuff like he tortured West Brom with.
His dummy to create the first goal defined the game, a moment of pure class that turned a tight contest on its head.
And his turn inside and stunning near post finish showed a player who is maturing.
He's at an age now where he could take the next step towards world class level.
4. Reds see off tricky opponents
It is that game-changing quality of the likes of Coutinho and Firmino that suggests Liverpool are beginning to work out how to overcome the challenge set by sides like West Brom.
The key is patience, and an ability to work openings where their creative players can overload, and that happened consistently during this match.
If they maintain such intensity, they can be a title threat.
But they do need to work harder to kill off teams, and be stronger at set pieces when defending.
5. Spare a thought for Sturridge
He was praised by his manager this week as possessing a talent that is “f****** incredible”, and was then promptly dropped.
Worse for the England man, is that Liverpool looked more fluid and mobile without him, the energy and vision of Firmino in the central role pivotal to the way Jurgen Klopp's team plays.
He is too good to be ignored for too long though, and there will be times this season when he can be vital to the Reds.
Karius 7 - Had so little to do, but distribution was very impressive
Clyne 7 - Worked really hard down the flank to press and harrass
Matip 7 - Really starting to settle now and can be commanding in air
Lovren 7 - Some strong early defending set an important tone for team
Milner 8 - Is there currently a better full back in the Premier League?
Henderson 8 - Work he does is vital, but sometimes unnoticed. Real leader
Can 7 - Much improved on last display, height and power important
Lallana 8 - Makes a huge difference with his energy, but also his vision
Mane 8 - A quite stunning goal of outstanding technique, developing well
Firmino 8 - Movement and energy a key factor in win and way team operates
Coutinho 9 MOTM - Changed the game with two sublime moments of genius