Five games in to the season (League Cup notwithstanding – yes, that’s a real word), and it’s been a hell of a month (or so). Big away wins against London’s biggest clubs, a total dismantling of the reigning champions at home, a draw at White Hart Lane, and… we played another game, don’t remember it…
I’ve taken it upon myself to put myself in-line to receive death threats via Twitter, and rank every player for the season so-far. The list is entirely based on how players have performed this season, so SPOILER ALERT – Ragnar Klavan ranks higher than Emre Can, despite not being as good a player, and the likes of Danny Ings won’t be included because he hasn’t played. I felt the need to put out that disclaimer to maybe halve the threats coming my way.
Let us begin the first edition of this wholly opinion-based piece.
19. Alberto Moreno
Moreno played the full 90 minutes against Arsenal and was absolutely appalling, making two massive mistakes by giving away a penalty and then being 15-20 yards out of position for Walcott’s goal, he also made one tackle, one dribble, and two fouls… Oh, and he’s Alberto Moreno.
18. Marko Grujic
Did the business repeatedly in pre-season, and has an absolutely massive future at LFC; only played 12 minutes of our only loss this season, but he’s better than Moreno… Just like me – I’m better than Moreno.
17. Emre Can
It’s hard to see how Can is going to force his way in to the midfield at the moment, all three starters have been spectacular. Once fit, he will have a big season, we’re just not sure when that will be. Only played 20 minutes this season due to injury, but he was great in the League Cup before he went down.
16. Kevin Stewart
Kevin Stewart comes on for the last ten minutes when you need someone to see the game out, much like Lucas, but he’s younger and doesn’t look like a chubby fourteen-year-old Star Wars enthusiast. Never puts a foot wrong, never spends enough time on the pitch to do anything magnificent.
15. Divock Origi
No goals, no starts, four appearances from the bench. Divock Origi appears to be Klopp’s third choice striker behind Firmino and Sturridge right now, and he needs a goal if he’s going to force his way in to the starting line-up, despite his graft and all-round play where he’s done very little wrong.
14. Ragnar Klavan
Ragnar Klavan played quite well in pre-season, and even in the Arsenal game considering we shipped three goals… and then it all came crashing down against Burnley, he showed why he’s never played in the Premier League at 32-years-old and now that Matip is fit, you’ll probably see him slide further and further down this list through the season.
13. Lucas Leiva
Lucas hasn’t played an awful-lot, and when he has it’s been off the bench mostly to help us see games out. When he did start, it was because Lovren was injured and we needed a centre-back – Lucas rewarded Klopp’s faith by setting-up Jamie Vardy for a consolation goal during our trouncing of the champions.
12. Simon Mignolet
Oh Simon. How do you start every game, and still end up outside the top eleven? He’s not dropped any massive clangers compared to normal (although he’s still very suspect at dealing with crosses), but he’s conceded more goals (8) than he’s made saves (7); in fact, Mignolet conceded the first five shots on target that he faced this season. Karius probably can’t come in quick enough.
11. Daniel Sturridge
4 appearances this season, and no goals from Sturridge; someone sound the alarm. If Sturridge had played like we’re used to, then he’d be far further down on this list – what you get with Daniel Sturridge is goals, some cheeky dribbling, and the work-rate of a half-dead badger going through a rather tumultuous pregnancy… until we faced Leicester. We finally saw it, after that reaction when Origi was brought on at Spurs, we’ve seen two games since the international break, where Daniel Sturridge has worked his arse off for the team, and while he’s still not at his sharpest in front of goal, it’ll come, it always does.
10. James Milner
Maybe James Milner deserves to be ranked higher, simply because he’s playing in a position that is totally alien to him, and he’s still managed to grab a goal and an assist, and post very impressive pass completion rates (second best in the team actually). Alas it’s his unfamiliarity with the role that lets him down right now; his work-rate is second to none and he’s been far better than Moreno, but mistakes like his positioning for Spurs’ goal a few weeks back is one example of where our vice-captain still needs to improve.
9. Nathaniel Clyne
Arguably LFC’s best player last season; never had a 10/10 or many 9/10 games, but also never really dropped below a 7/10 either. The fact that Mr. Consistency is ranked so-lowly goes to show just how well we’ve played in midfield thus-far, and how unnerving the lack of a clean sheet may be.
8. Georginio Wijnaldum
Wijnaldum has been bloody outstanding. It’s almost appalling that he ranks so low on the list, such is the potency of our midfield especially that he comes out the lowest of our three starters. A tidy pass-completion rate, the third-most key passes in the team, and legs that can run for days.
7. Joel Matip
Matip has only played three of five league games for LFC this season, and it’s a testament to his defensive partner and the quality of our midfield that he doesn’t rank higher. Matip seems to be the calm that our defence has been lacking since we lost Sami Hyypia; a towering defender who never seems to lose his cool, and makes us a lot more stable from set-pieces.
6. Dejan Lovren
One of many players who has gone from strength to strength under Klopp. His goal against Chelsea was thoroughly deserved for a defender who now seems utterly untouchable, and unrecognisable from the goon we appeared to have signed at first. More interceptions and more aerial duels than any other player this season, top bloke.
5. Jordan Henderson
O captain, My Captain. Jordan Henderson is actually threatening to look like a real captain isn’t he? He’s from the Klopp school of leadership, where hugs and encouragement have replaced Stevie’s character-building two-footed tackles in training. He’s worked his socks off this season, played more passes than anyone else, made more tackles than any other player this season, and made more interceptions than anyone outside of our back four.
4. Phillipe Coutinho
When you consider the performances that we’ve seen out of Coutinho this season, it’s almost mind-boggling to see him outside of the top-three, but as he often can, there have been times where he goes anonymous for large portions of the game, and doesn’t work quite as hard as the three men who come above him.
3. Adam Lallana
When your mate at the pub goes, “he’s a Klopp player”, there’s a 98.7% chance they’re talking about Adam Lallana. Two goals and one assist, combined with some knee-shattering work-horsing has left a lot of fans struggling to remember why they didn’t rate him twelve months ago.
2. Roberto Firmino
I really laboured over who to put in the top spot, the award really could have gone to Bobby. In the end, that one assist that our top man grabbed, edged it for me. Firmino goes from strength to strength every time he plays, and some of the touches he’s shown this season would make Ronaldinho go “oh sh*t fam”.
1. Sadio Mane
What a geezer. There were big questions over the fee we paid for yet another Southampton player, but I think we can all agree that – on top of his two goals, and one assist – Mane’s pace, dribbling, and energy have been our most consistent threat so far this season.
So there you have it, the (not) definitive, (not remotely) scientifically-proven ranking of LFC’s players this season. Feel free to congratulate me for being so right on Twitter @AlexThomasLFC