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Transfer Rater: Nkunku to Liverpool

Football Whispers
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 By Dave Usher

Oxlade-Chamberlain display makes Liverpool forget about Coutinho

Stewart Robson takes a closer look at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's performance against Manchester City and asks whether he can be the long-term replacement for Coutinho.

It was always going to be exciting but this one managed to exceed all expectations. Manchester City's undefeated start to the Premier League season was finally ended as Liverpool produced a typically high-octane display to race into a lead and then, equally typically, almost threw it away late on with poor defensive play. What a game!

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Positives

Who needs Philippe Coutinho? The three remaining members of the "Fab Four" on the scoresheet, as did the man brought into the side as Coutinho's direct replacement. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was brilliant and his display was the perfect tonic for Liverpool fans after a difficult week.

Negatives

No lead is safe. Even at 4-1 and in apparently total control there was an underlying fear inside Anfield that, if City were to pull one goal back, it could result in the kind of collapse that has been all too frequent with this Liverpool side. Hopefully that's where Virgil Van Dijk, who missed this game through injury, can make the difference.

Manager rating out of 10

9 -- Jurgen Klopp's decision to go with Oxlade-Chamberlain over Adam Lallana proved inspired, as the former Arsenal man opened the scoring with a terrific solo goal and then turned provider to create the second for Roberto Firmino. Klopp took the game to his opposite number Pep Guardiola and was rewarded for his bravery and his tactical approach. Liverpool are the most difficult opponents City will face all season because of Klopp's all-action approach.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Loris Karius, 6 -- Looks to have edged ahead of Simon Mignolet in the race to be No. 1, but he was beaten at his near post for City's first goal. Could not be blamed for either of the two late strikes, but Liverpool will surely be looking for a new goalkeeper this summer.

DF Joe Gomez, 7 -- The youngster was caught underneath a cross-field ball, which allowed Leroy Sane to get away from him and draw City level. That one error aside, though, Gomez was outstanding, keeping Sane quiet and showing great strength and determination in the challenge.

DF Joel Matip, 8 -- An impressive display, in which he won headers, made blocks and intercepted when needed. He was also composed on the ball.

DF Dejan Lovren, 7 -- Named captain for the day and performed well until becoming a little ragged late on. Should have done better on City's third goal when he missed a header in his own six-yard box but, overall, his was a strong showing against the dangerous Sergio Aguero.

DF Andrew Robertson, 9 -- He totally nullified Liverpool old boy Raheem Sterling, who endured a torrid outing until he was eventually substituted to put him out of his misery. Robertson's energy and dogged defending is making him a real crowd favourite at Anfield; his name was chanted by The Kop following one charge that saw him end up in a right-wing position after harassing several City players and forcing each in turn to pass backward.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored his most important goal for Liverpool to date to help set up victory vs. Man City.

MF Emre Can, 8 -- Another strong, aggressive showing from a player, who Liverpool ought to be doing everything possible to tie down to a new contract. Can was replaced with 10 minutes to go and Klopp later revealed that he had been suffering with illness, which makes his display and dedication all the more impressive.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 8 -- Had his play in the final third been better this could have been a 10/10 display from the Dutch midfielder, who popped up everywhere, winning tackles and making timely interventions. He also made countless surges forward, though his final pass or shot was lacking.

MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 9 -- Philippe who? What a performance. Full of purpose and controlled aggression, Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring with a surging run and shot from distance and then, after City had levelled, played the pass from which Firmino restored Liverpool's lead. He is coming into his own.

FW Mohamed Salah, 9 -- A constant menace with his speed, strength and trickery, he scored what turned out to be the winner when he collected a poor clearance from Ederson and lobbed the ball into the empty net from distance. It wasn't the easiest of chances but, as soon as the ball fell to him, the outcome never seemed in doubt.

FW Roberto Firmino, 9 -- Yet another outstanding display full of energy, skill and the intelligent closing down of opponents. Just for good measure he also scored a wonderful goal when he shrugged off John Stones and chipped the ball over Ederson. Firmino is probably the most underrated "star" in the Premier League.

FW Sadio Mane, 8 -- He's back. It's not been the best of times for Mane in recent weeks but this was the player Liverpool fans have grown to know and love. His first-half display was a little subdued but he was superb after the break, scoring once and also seeing another effort hit the post.

Substitutes

MF James Milner, NR -- Replaced Can but struggled to get with the frantic pace of the game and picked up a late yellow card when he conceded a free kick in a dangerous position.

FW Adam Lallana, NR -- A late replacement for Salah, he had one or two nice pieces of control and did a lot of running around.

DF Ragnar Klavan, NR -- Sent on to help defend the stoppage time set piece conceded by Milner.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.