Liverpool face Manchester United in the second-leg of the Europa League last-16 as the two teams vie for a place in the quarter-finals of the competition. The Reds have the upper hand heading to Old Trafford after a commanding performance saw them win the first-leg 2-0 at Anfield.
Reds legend John Aldridge, who was delighted following the thumping win, has highlighted four performances that were key to stifling the Red Devils in the first-leg clash. The former striker believes the quartet of Emre Can, Nathaniel Clyne, Roberto Firmino and Simon Mignolet were key influencers during the game.
The German midfielder has been ever present in the Liverpool side this season and has formed a brilliant partnership with Jordan Henderson at the heart of the Reds midfield. He has missed just one game in their entire Premier League and Europa League campaign this season. Clyne, who is battling Tottenham's Kyle Walker to be England's preferred choice at right-back, has also been a key player for the Merseyside club this season. He was instrumental in the first goal against United in the first-leg clash, as he was the player fouled inside the box, and was also commendable on the defensive side.
The Brazilian attacker has also begun showing his true quality in the second-half of the season and has scored eight goals in as many appearances since the start of the year. Mignolet, on the other hand, has come in for a considerable amount of criticism from the supporters of the club and other quarters, but looked assured during the clash against their arch rivals.
"I've always liked Emre Can and now everyone is starting to see what all the fuss is about. The Germany international is enjoying a really good run of form in the Liverpool midfield," Aldridge wrote for the Liverpool Echo.
"Can seems to have become more disciplined in that holding role alongside Jordan Henderson. He's not running with the ball as much so he's not getting caught out as much. He's distribution has really improved."
"The team ethic shone through against United with everyone playing for each other but I thought Can was one of our best individuals on the night."
"Nathaniel Clyne produced arguably his best display for Liverpool. He was very solid defensively and a threat when he went forward. Roberto Firmino also did very well and I think there's a lot more to come from the Brazilian. Simon Mignolet didn't have much to do but he was strong when he needed to be with one crucial punch clear," the former Reds forward explained.