Ranking Liverpool's Top 5 Players for November 2015
After a month of stabilising Liverpool's form following his arrival in October, November was the month that Jurgen Klopp saw his new side kick into the next gear with a host of fine collective performances.
November saw the Reds fall to defeat just once—a 2-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace—with wins over Rubin Kazan, Manchester City, Bordeaux and Swansea City marking an exceptional month for the German and his new charges.
The 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium was by far Liverpool's defining display, with an attacking trident of Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino waltzing around Manuel Pellegrini's weak back line.
That evening in Manchester was littered with strong individual performances, but who were Liverpool's most impressive stars throughout November?
Here we rank the top five, based on quality, consistency and overall performance levels.
Such was the overriding quality within Klopp's squad in November, it was difficult to narrow his top performers down to just five, with a host of honourable mentions warranting praise.
Though Firmino and Coutinho received much of the plaudits following Liverpool's win over City, Lallana's role as water carrier within Klopp's three-man attack deserves recognition. Throughout November the England international produced a consistent run of form, with his pressing of opposition defenders off the ball particularly impressive.
Similarly, Lucas Leiva played an understated role in Klopp's midfield last month, with the German hailing his defensive midfielder as "a very important player for us" ahead of Sunday's 1-0 win at home to Swansea, as relayed by Paul Casey of the Press Association (h/t the Daily Mail).
Though both Dejan Lovren and Jordon Ibe cannot be considered key players within Klopp's squad when the likes of Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Sturridge are fit and available, their steady displays when called up in November require commendation.
Ibe's goal in the 1-0 win away to Rubin at the beginning of the month marked the 19-year-old as truly ready to make the step up under his new manager.
Elsewhere, despite slow starts to the month, both James Milner and Martin Skrtel rounded off November with standout displays against Swansea and City respectively.
5. Nathaniel Clyne
Nathaniel Clyne will rarely receive the praise he deserves, such is the underplayed importance of the 24-year-old to Klopp's intensive, high-pressing system at Liverpool.
Pairing defensive strength with consistent attacking quality, dovetailing with Klopp's right-sided forward, Clyne barely strayed below a seven-out-of-10 output throughout November, with his role in the win away to Rubin perhaps most impressive.
Clyne showed his creativity combining with Ibe on the right flank against the Russian side, making four key passes and tormenting left-back Elmir Nabiullin throughout.
Signed from Southampton for just £12.5 million in July, Clyne was a safe bet for Liverpool, but the 24-year-old's consistency is making that fee look like a true bargain—perhaps their signing of the summer.
4. Roberto Firmino
"I did not know him as a person before I came here, but I knew him and liked him as a player and he is still not 100 percent to where he can go—not even close yet," Klopp said of Firmino at the end of November, as reported by ESPNFC.co.uk.
The German later added: "He is a big physical talent, really strong, it is not easy to get the ball from him. He is the complete offensive player."
In many ways, Firmino is the perfect player for Klopp: He is as efficiently industrious off the ball as he is influential in possession, the Brazilian is capable of leading the line in a way similar to that of Luis Suarez.
He proved that against City, scoring one goal and assisting on another in a man-of-the-match performance. And though this was the night that Firmino announced himself as a Liverpool star, his displays against Rubin and Bordeaux in the Europa League were similarly strong.
3. Philippe Coutinho
Coutinho only made two appearances for Liverpool in November, but we are eschewing consistency to honour this pair of outstanding individual performances by giving the 23-year-old the No. 3 spot in our ranking.
Against both Palace and City, Coutinho was at his very best—combining midfield and attack with a palpable vibrancy, and serving as Liverpool's go-to guy in attack.
Coutinho scored in both appearances, with his star turn alongside Firmino against City providing Liverpool with the impetus to overwhelming Pellegrini's outfit.
Suffering a hamstring injury in the second half at the Etihad, Coutinho's strong run of form was cut short, but Klopp will be hoping for more of the same from his majestic No. 10 as the Reds enter December.
2. Emre Can
Emre Can is the one player who is perhaps benefiting the most from Klopp's influence at Liverpool, with the former Borussia Dortmund manager stationing his young compatriot at the heart of the Reds' midfield after a season spent in chameleonic uncertainty as Brendan Rodgers' utility man.
At just 21, Can is liable to produce the occasional disappointing performance, as his wasteful outing in the middle of the park in the defeat to Palace proved, but Klopp's show of faith has magnified his excellence on the whole.
In starts against Rubin, City and Swansea, Can was at his dominant best as Liverpool's midfield powerhouse, pressing strongly off the ball and prompting attacks with powerful runs as a box-to-box option and marshalling the middle third with authority as Klopp's holding midfielder—to equal degrees of distinction.
Can is a young talent that should be cherished, and coming to the fore under his new manager in November the German international looks set to play a focal role for the Reds for the long term.
1. Alberto Moreno
After Sunday's victory over Swansea, Klopp singled out 23-year-old left-back Alberto Moreno for praise.
"Alberto Moreno [took] 20 knocks, everywhere on his body, and was limping from the pitch into the dressing room," he told reporters in his post-match press conference, per This is Anfield.
"I asked him 'where is the pain?' and he said 'everywhere.' That's how it feels in this moment, but tomorrow morning we will be back in the race."
As Klopp hailed the Spaniard's resilience, he captured Moreno's true value to Liverpool, with the former Sevilla man producing a string of front-footed defensive displays on the left flank throughout November.
Against Swansea, Moreno made six successful tackles, five interceptions and three key passes, contributing exceptionally in both defence and attack, throwing himself bravely into the line of fire as a resurgent Swans looked to grab an equaliser late on.
It was a performance typical of Moreno's quality, as he proved with remarkable frequency last month.
Statistics via WhoScored.com.