Liverpool Trio In Team Of The Week (11/4/17)
Liverpool are represented in the latest Premier League team of the week that has been selected by BBC pundit Garth Crooks.
Actually Garth is now down as a 'Football Analyst' these days, a posh term for a pundit then!
The performances by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the two one victory over Stoke City at the weekend at the Bet365 Stadium was enough to earn them a place in the side alongside the other, in the opinion of the former Spurs striker anyway, most impressive performers in the topflight over the latest weekend.
I think we'll already know ourselves, and not just based on the latest performance, why Crooks, we'll also not argue with it, selected the trio as part of his team but explaining his choice he told the BBC.
'He's taken a fair amount of stick during his time at Liverpool but the hug from Jurgen Klopp at the end of the match seems to suggest goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was not just in good form but had done something quite special. It was the save from Saido Berahino that did it - costing Stoke a point while keeping Liverpool on course for a Champions League spot. Moments before, Mignolet also made a point-blank save from Charlie Adam when he and Berahino practically apologised to each other for taking the strike. However, in my view, Klopp has failed to address the most obvious issue facing Liverpool since the start of the season - that is their back four. Mignolet has recovered his season with some sparkling performances since being dropped earlier in the campaign. Yet if the German manager had got his back four right it's difficult to see how Chelsea could be 12 points clear of the Reds with six games left to play. Hugging Mignolet in sheer relief that his keeper has kept him in with a massive shout of Champions League football next season is a bit of a cop out for me. Liverpool should have been challenging for the title.'
'Philippe Coutinho didn't feel great on the morning of the match and arrived in the Potteries by car feeling OK before deciding to declare himself fit for the game against Stoke City. That was the beginning of the end for the Potters. From the moment Coutinho came on the pitch at the start of the second half, I knew it was a game-changer. The Brazilian had already warned Lee Grant he was on the prowl, having forced the Stoke keeper to produce a fantastic save just after he arrived on the pitch. It was at that moment you knew whatever symptoms Coutinho had before the game had well and truly passed. However, it was his one-touch finish on the edge of the box that I thought was so impressive. Coutinho hung around waiting for something to happen - anything that might give him an opportunity to pounce. When it came he was equal to it. All credit to Coutinho for getting to Stoke. The easy option would have been not to play and no-one would have blamed him. Instead he put himself on the line for his team-mates and his manager. I hope Jurgen Klopp remembers that in the future when Coutinho is having a bad time.'
'What a goal by Roberto Firmino. The ball from Georginio Wijnaldum was wonderful but the finish even better. It's one thing your team-mate delivering the pass of the match. It's something entirely different having received the ball at your feet and having the technical ability to put it into the back of the net. Firmino finished the move so emphatically. If the referee had decided to blow the full-time whistle there and then, no neutral observer would have complained - the quality of the finish was worthy of winning any match. However, watching the goal in real time does not do the execution of the finish justice. The replay clearly identifies how Firmino takes a look at the ball as it arrives over his shoulder, watches it bounce in front of him, then takes a look at where Grant is positioned before deciding to hit the ball on the volley. Grant, who is slightly off his line in case Firmino decides to take him on, almost dares his opponent to take the volley due to the degree of technical difficulty required to execute the skill. All this being played out, of course, in a couple of seconds. So imagine Grant, when the Brazilian calls his bluff and goes for the volley and smashes it into the back of the net, having left the Stoke keeper clutching fresh air. That's why the finish was so good and we all said 'wow'.'
It's always good to see the club represented in this way, and well played to all three for their recognition, but the most important thing about the weekend was of course the points.
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Matthew Lowton (Burnley), James Collins (West Ham United), David Luiz (Chelsea), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea).