Liverpool’s hopes of finishing second were severely dented as they were held to a goalless draw by Stoke City at Anfield on Saturday.
The Reds got a brilliant chance early on as Mohamed Salah was through on goal with just Jack Butland to beat. But, the Liverpool talisman dinked his effort wide in uncharacteristic fashion, in what would later turn out to be his only shot at goal.
The closest Liverpool then came to breaking the deadlock was at the stroke of half-time, only to see Danny Ings’s effort ruled out for offside. In the final 45 minutes, the hosts continued dominating the possession, but couldn’t do much with it as the match ended goalless.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 28, 2018
The Merseyside club are now two points adrift of second-placed Manchester United, who have two games in hand. Stoke, on the other hand, are just three points from safety after Swansea City failed to win their game later on Saturday. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Loris Karius: 6/10
A quiet afternoon in goal for Karius, who was largely a spectator from one end of the pitch. That was perhaps, a big reason why his distribution was a little off on the day, with the German rarely called into action, even with the ball at his feet.
Joe Gomez: 5/10
Another poor outing from Gomez, whose struggles post injury continued once again. The youngster was sloppy on the ball, giving away possession a little too much for comfort. Defensively, he was only slightly better, and it looks like he is in need of a confidence booster.
Virgil van Dijk: 6/10
Liverpool were barely tested at the heart of defence. Whenever they were, van Dijk was on hand to absorb the pressure, winning everything in aerial situations. His distribution from the back was typically assured as well, which helped the Reds retain control of the possession.
Ragnar Klavan: 7/10
Making a rare start at the back, Klavan was assured and was rarely troubled by a misfiring Stoke attack. The Estonian will seldom have easier outings, although this performance bodes well for his confidence.
Alberto Moreno: 6/10
Coming into the side in place of Andrew Robertson, Moreno surely had big boots to fill, and was much improved compared to his disastrous outing against West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Xherdan Shaqiri didn’t have much joy on his flank, although the Spaniard wasn’t immune to the odd defensive lapse, which pulls his rating back ever so slightly.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10
Deployed in an alien role in midfield, Alexander-Arnold held his own on Saturday. This role required slightly less defensive work from the youngster which perhaps, suits him well. As a result, he often went on bursts forward, joining Mohamed Salah and others in the final third, although the end product was slightly lacking on the day.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
Far from his best, but Henderson’s leadership qualities were visible on the day. With Gomez struggling, the Liverpool captain supported the youngster well, and passed the ball crisply to keep his side in control. Lacked his usual energy in midfield, but he was likely preserving his best for Wednesday against AS Roma.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6.5/10
Wijnaldum compensated for the lack of energy from his captain, on an afternoon when he kept himself busy up and down the pitch. The Dutchman came close to scoring as well, with a snapshot slamming into the side netting. Will be a key figure against Roma, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain absent.
Mohamed Salah: 5/10
Mohamed Salah has missed 21 “clear cut” goalscoring chances this season, more than any other Premier League player.
If he’d taken them all, he’d be on 52 league goals! pic.twitter.com/aFEfERUOcf
— UNILAD Football (@UNILADFooty) April 28, 2018
One of those rare off days for the Liverpool talisman. Salah never quite hit the top gear on Saturday, missing the biggest chance of the day when through on goal and one-on–one against Jack Butland. His frustrations visibly grew as the game progressed, and he almost took it out on Bruno Martins Indi’s face. Will be interesting to see if he’s penalised for that.
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
The best of an average attacking lot from Liverpool. Firmino’s trademark work-rate was present on the day, and it was the Brazilian who carried the biggest threat for his side. But, he didn’t enjoy quite the same understanding with Danny Ings as he does with Sadio Mane, which restricted him to an extent.
Danny Ings: 4/10
Given a rare opportunity to impress, Ings was the worst player on the pitch on the afternoon, making absolutely no impact. He did “score” a goal at the stroke of half-time, but it was cancelled due to offside. Needs to work extremely hard if he is to have a future as a regular at Liverpool.
Nathaniel Clyne: 5/10
Deployed in an advanced role, Clyne could do nothing to change the tempo of the game. Severely lacking in end product, he still seems to be missing the match sharpness, and is some way off regaining his place in the side.
James Milner: 6/10
A bundle of energy upon his introduction, Milner put in a superb shift and was always looking to make things happen in midfield. But, it just wasn’t meant to be for Liverpool on the day.