As 2016 finally is brought to a close, I’ve indulged myself into my Liverpool Team Of The Year..
GK: Simon Mignolet
Mignolet secures a place between the sticks in my team. He hasn’t been the most convincing of goalkeepers alongside fellow competitor Loris Karius, but considering the Belgian has played more games this year & Karius has been making repeated errors at times, Mignolet gets his place
RB: Nathaniel Clyne
Really easy choice. Clyne doesn’t have a fierce competitor for right-back, with Joe Gomez’s injury presenting Clyne with the opportunity for consistent first-team football. Also, Clyne has been a model of consistency, in what has been a porous Liverpool defence.
Trent Alexander Arnold has put in some pleasing shifts in the EFL Cup for the Reds, but due to Clyne’s appearances & consistency, it’s a no-brainer for me.
CB: Joel Matip
Despite only being signed by Klopp in the summer, Matip walks his way into my Liverpool side of the year. His physicality, composure & mature performances have aided the Reds on several occasions.
Kolo Toure had been a composed & solid influence at the back, but he cannot quite pip Matip to my side. Some would probably opt for Lovren instead of Matip, due to Lovren’s improvement under Klopp – but performance & statistics wins Matip my position.
Well in, Joel.
CB: Mamadou Sakho
This is a slightly controversial choice to be making. Mamadou Sakho had gained cult status with Liverpool supporters following consistent performances under Jurgen Klopp, and his goal against Dortmund in the quarter-final, which went a huge way to ensuring Liverpool got all the way to the Europa League Final.
Since then, however, the Frenchman has fallen out of favour with not only manager, but also the majority of the fanbase. From his suspension over alleged drug taking by FIFA to the Snapchat outburst at Jurgen Klopp, he hasn’t endeared himself since.
Regardless though, I’m prioritising performances etc over off the field happenings.
LB: James Milner
Bit of a strange choice. Milner actually played as a central midfielder last season, and began to improve there, at the eve of the year. However, the underwhelming Alberto Moreno’s performances were criminal, especially at the backend of last season, and the first game of the campaign.
This led to Jurgen Klopp deciding to give Milner a makeshift role at left-back. Whilst many questioned this decision, it has payed dividends, as Milner remains a consistent performer.
He may lack pace where the left wing back position is concerned, but it’s no brainer; considering the latter’s reliability.
CM: Jordan Henderson
Easy choice. Henderson had endured a difficult season in 2015/16 [due to injuries] – which blighted his first season as captain, filling in boots for Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
He will have to go a long long way to pip Gerrard of being the best servant to the captaincy role, in a long, long time – but he has showed remarkable development under Klopp this season.
The 25-yard stunner at Chelsea certainly was a highlight, but his statistics from earlier in the season showed him being the best passer in the league – so much for the ones preaching about his ‘sidewards passing’.
According to Squawka, he has a pass accuracy of 87% – his long range passing too, is simply superb.
It’s not just his passing though – his capacity to play in the deeper role has aided the Reds in finding midfield balance.
CM: Emre Can
As much as I love Gini Wijnaldum, I’m afraid Emre Can nicks it ahead of him. Can was one of the most improved players from last season – he was often played at right-back or centre-back at Brendan Rodgers, and usually impressed – albeit looked rusty on some occasions.
When Klopp took over – he looked on another level. He produced some superb performances, led by example – no-nonsense, composed, infectious energy levels; which played a massive part in our run to the Europa League final last term.
Can too, this season – has been brilliant. Wijnaldum has got the nod ahead of him, but Can has showed that he can lead at centre-back & right-back, and in the deeper midfield positions.
Now he’s playing in a more advanced midfield role under Klopp this season, his press & work-rate is very impressive.
CM: Adam Lallana
Another player reborn in October 2015. He looked like a disappointing buy from Rodgers in the summer of 2014, a summer which saw the mass exodus of many players to Liverpool – few of which delivered.
Lallana though, looked like a completely different player when Klopp was hired last year. He divulged the reasoning of why we paid £25m for him – he gave a new dimension of creativity to the midfield.
He featured intermittently in the heart of the midfield, as his most effective performances came when the 4-4-1-1 formation was deployed. He was not only able to play in the centre of midfield at times, but he produced some good performances on the right wing, notably against City (H) last year.
He’s chipped in with goals & assists this season, and his vibrant attacking play has been devastating at times. Is it possible to leave him out?
RW: Sadio Mané
Not even a difficult choice. The Senegalese has lit up Anfield with his electrifying pace, which has left opposition defenders petrified, and is also the Reds’ top scorer.
Mane is also one that will suit Klopp’s tactical vision, as he can play down the centre by drifting infield, creating space for other attackers to run behind [e.g Firmino against Leicester].
He will no doubt be a big miss as he sets off to Gabon for the African Cup Of Nations next month – £35m well spent. Not bad at all.
CF: Roberto Firmino
Unlike my other picks, this one was a really difficult one. As we have such a rich squad depth, we have a plethora of attackers to rely on. Divock Origi was one of the finest breakaway stars last season, and has impressed this season too – scoring vital goals, in the wake of Philippe Coutinho’s absence through injury.
Sturridge scored some vital goals in Europe last season – but on the basis that he hasn’t hit the ground running yet this season in the league, I’m going to go with Roberto Firmino.
Some have labelled his running as a stumbling block, but he has started to improve the tactical side of his game. Mané’s signing was a blessing in disguise for him, as he can now drift in the centre, make runs behind opposition defenders & contribute goals.
It’s not just the goals through, his workrate, assists & involvement in goals has been fruitful. Has proved to be another revelation this season.
LW: Philippe Coutinho
No doubt. Coutinho did have consistency problems last season – and admittedly, there was substantial hype from Liverpool supporters. But this season, he has justified all of that excitement.
The Brazilian just looks like he’s blessed with IMMENSE creativity. His skills, showboating etc has been a joy to watch, as he leaves defenders on their backsides. Some have billed him as a ‘long range shot merchant’, but that tag can finally be forgotten about, as the Brazilian has began to show there’s more to his game than just screamers.
Don’t get me wrong, he can be frustrating on the odd day, but his contribution to our superb start to this season just can’t be overlooked. His injury appeared to be a big miss, but the team have already discovered a winning formulae without him.
When he returns, expect damage limitation, at its most exciting.
Written by @SteLindellLFC