Liverpool Player Ratings v. Stoke City

Clive Brunskill

In a satisfying victory, Simon Mingolet became an instant legend, a god amongst mere mortals, while the rest of the squad hummed to a 1-0 victory.

STARTING XI:

Mingolet - 10 - It doesn't matter how shaky he looked in the opening minutes, because he delivered with the game on the line, coming through with a stunning penalty save in the 89th minute. His reaction was classic, goose-bumping even, as the goalie became a jubilant boy saving the skin of all his friends in a tense pickup game, the lot of them hugging triumphantly afterwards.

Johnson - 5 - Glen positioned himself well, getting forward in the attack and making good runs, but his touches and passes were pretty awful. This can probably be attributed to early season rust.

Toure - 8 - This guy is an absolute beast. He was a total rock in the back, fitting right into the system with a suprising amount of deftness in his touch. The only thing that could have made this a better debut is if his first half header had found the net rather than struck the post. Toure appeared to really mesh well with his teammates, and I imagine that his leadership can really help the young guys this year.

Agger - 6 - Agger played very well until his rather spastic 89th minute handball almost cost Liverpool dearly. Handballs are generally weird, isolated incidents so I fully expect to see a spotless Agger against Villa next week.

Enrique - 7 - The Spanish left back was good overall, playing strong defense and even venturing forward a few times. He had some moments of pure hilarity though, the most notable being when he power crossed it into the fifth row from an advantageous position. Blips like these don't change matches, so I'm content to let him do his thing and make me laugh.

Lucas - 8 - He looked really good today, and multiple people in the Game Thread commented that he seemed a step quicker than last year. If we get this Lucas all year then we'll be in very good shape.

Gerrard - 6 - It's not that Gerrard was bad, it's just that he wasn't the focal point. As his career winds down, this will be the case more and more. His calm assuring way anchoring the midfield with Lucas was valuable nonetheless.

Coutinho - 7 - He was nowhere near his best in this game yet was still a star of the show. The big boys of Stoke were tough on him but he didn't let that ruin his outing. I agree with Adam that maybe he was a little overconfident in trying to do ill advised skill moves around the pitch.

Aspas - 6 - A fine debut for Aspas. He was very active and speedy, and will feature well into Liverpool's future plans. Being subbed off for Raheem Sterling in the 72' was less an indictment of any Aspas wrongdoing, and more of Rodgers wanting additional pace on the pitch.

Henderson - 7 - Oh Hendo. He who gives me so many topics to write about every week. This time the most intriguing storyline he provided was more about Brendan Rodgers than anything else. To the surprise of many supporters, Henderson was picked ahead of Joe Allen in the starting 11. My theory is that this happened because of Henderson's bigger and more physical nature, with Rodgers not wanting his midfield to be bullied. The move proved effective in the end as Henderson overcame a quiet first half by really picking up his play in the final 45. He made positive movements and was denied by Begovic twice and the inner post another time. The strike that hit the post was a wonderful effort, and couldn't have been closer to going in.

Sturridge - 8 - Surprisingly fit to go the full 90 minutes, Sturridge scored the only goal of the match with a precise first half effort from just outside the box. He has the ability to turn and shoot accurately with immense quickness, which often can catch the opposition off guard, as was the case here. He linked up well with others and appeared more than willing to share the ball. Said his preschool teacher, "Daniel has made tremendous strides in sharing his toys."

SUBS:

Sterling - 5 - Injected into the match to provide an extra spark, Raheem the Dream didn't do much. He ran fast and a couple times ran fast with the ball, but beyond that didn't offer much.

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