It may not have been pretty or their most memorable performance under Jurgen Klopp, but Liverpool did what they needed to do at the Hawthorns on Sunday – eking out a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion to move up to third in the Premier League table.
The Baggies are enjoying a fantastic season and represent exactly the kind of side Liverpool usually struggle to perform against, protruding physicality, organisation and attrition over attacking football and technical flair.
Once again, it wasn’t a stellar display from the Reds but an incredibly important one as we embark upon the business end of the campaign. So, who was Liverpool’s best performer at the Hawthorns?
We put that exact question to Reds readers last night in our exclusive poll – here’s a rundown of who made the top three.
Any Liverpool fans wondering what purpose Lucas Leiva truly serves on Merseyside only has to watch this game back. He competed relentlessly with West Brom’s engine room and finished up with three tackles and one interception, whilst completing the most passes of any Liverpool midfielder or forward. He also won three aerial duels, including a flicked-on header at a set piece to set up Roberto Firmino for the only goal of the afternoon.
Simon Mignolet’s received plenty of stick throughout his Liverpool career but the Belgium international certainly couldn’t be faulted against the Baggies, producing two crucial saves to keep the home side at bay. It’s actually been an incredibly solid season from the former Sunderland man – it’s hard to remember the last time he made a mistake in the Premier League – and although most Liverpool fans would have opted for Loris Karius to be the new No.1 when he arrived last summer, the German’s move to Merseyside has seemingly spurred Mignolet on to produce a much higher level of performance.
It may seem simplistic but it’s hard to overlook the only goalscorer in a 1-0 win, with Firmino’s finish from close range (courtesy of Leiva’s aforementioned flick-on) proving the difference upon the final whistle. But the Brazilian’s performance was by no means limited to just that; he also completed five successful dribbles and created five chances – the best returns of any player for either side – and even weighed in defensively with two tackles, one interception and one clearance. Many feared how Liverpool would fare for the rest of the campaign in the absence of the injured top scorer Sadio Mane, but Firmino has proved in his last two appearances that he’s capable of filling the void.