Liverpool 2, Oldham Athletic 0
Anfield, Liverpool (Att: 44,102)
Liverpool scorers: Aspas (54), Tarkowski (82 OG)
Brad Jones – 6.5
A good performance from the Australian, who was there with important saves and interventions when called upon. Lack of game time could have meant a rusty performance but he maintained his concentration well, and his passing and distribution on the counter attack was generally good.
Martin Kelly – 6
Fit nicely into the right full back position and should be challenging for Glen Johnson’s place in the side if he can stay fit. Put in some dangerous crosses in attack, as well as being a good outlet in the air when the ball was played long from the ‘keeper.
Kolo Toure – 6
Relatively untroubled, but made his contribution to the clean sheet throughout the game.
Daniel Agger – 6
Like Toure, he wasn’t troubled too much, but regularly won his headed duels with Oldham’s forwards as the ball often came his way from goal-kicks. Went off injured towards the end of the second half.
Aly Cissokho – 6.5
Was solid enough down the left in defence, and also gave the team width on this side. Wasn’t helped by Moses sloppiness at times, but got into some useful attacking positions which stretched the play.
Steven Gerrard – 6.5
A comfortable return to action for the captain, despite falling victim to a bad Korey Smith challenge within the first few minutes.
Luis Alberto – 6.5
Controlled the play in midfield during the first half, playing just ahead of Gerrard. Made several good passes forward which his team-mates failed to make the most of. The odd pass went astray, but was generally impressive. Withdrawn at half time.
Jordan Henderson – 6
Another solid performance from a player growing in stature in the Liverpool ranks. Encourages his team-mates and shows a good range of passing.
*Raheem Sterling – 7.5
Troubled the Oldham left back throughout the game, and whilst his final decision wasn’t always the best, he made things happen in a Liverpool attack minus Suarez and Sturridge. Moved to right back for the last ten minutes or so when the team were down to 10 men due to an Agger injury. Is possibly the best full back at LFC.
Iago Aspas – 6.5
Worked tirelessly upfront. Was rewarded with a goal which he steered in with his weaker right foot after some good play by Sterling. Not everything he tried came off, and he often frustrated the home crowd, but wasn’t disheartened and worked well for the team before and after his goal.
Victor Moses – 5
Found himself in some great attacking positions down the left hand side, but rarely made anything of them. Many attacks broke down at his feet, and he was substituted at half time.
Lucas Leiva – 6.5
(Luis Alberto 45) Came on at half time and showed how badly he’s needed for game like this. Wanders between the centre backs when Liverpool are in possession, and provides a starting point for attacks.
Philippe Coutinho – 6.5
(Moses 45) Part of the Brazilian double act which entered at half time. Took Moses’ place on the left and gave the team more composure and control in the attacking third. Still needs to sort out his shooting, but his presence was required to win the game.
Luis Suarez – N/A
Brendan Rodgers went for a similar approach to the one used versus Hull City, but with different personnel.
Steven Gerrard played the deep role between the centre backs, previously occupied by Lucas. Luis Alberto played just ahead of him, with Jordan Henderson the most advanced of the central midfield players.
Aspas played as a striker, but often dropped deep to receive the ball, with Moses to the left and Sterling to the right of him. The two wingers stayed wide and attacked their full backs.
In the second half Lucas cam on for Alberto, but took Gerrard’s place, with Gerrard moving forward to the role previously occupied by Alberto. Coutinho came on for Moses and offered more penetration on the inside, as well as wide on the left.
Both full backs bombed forward throughout the game, and the energy and physicality of Cissokho and Kelly helped them get up and down their respective flanks, assisting in both defence and attack.