Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were not quite at their best, but Naby Keita impressed as Liverpool played out a drab 0-0 draw with Everton on Sunday.
It was a game in which clear-cut chances came few and far between, with both teams restricted to efforts from range, for the most part. By the end of the game, both sides had managed just 3 shots on target each, with Everton coming the closest to breaking the deadlock, only to be denied by the Liverpool goalkeeper, Alisson and the post.
Liverpool’s pre-lockdown gap on top of the Premier League table has now been trimmed to 23 points, which could be brought down further when Manchester City meet Burnley on Monday. With the Reds’ title coronation delayed a bit further, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 7.5/10
Returning to the side after recovering from a knee injury, Alisson had a largely comfortable outing against Everton. However, as the game neared its end, the Liverpool No. 1 was called into action by a couple of swift Everton attacks. The Brazilian, though, was equal to whatever the hosts could muster up, making a couple of top saves to preserve his clean sheet.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10
The most involved player on the day, Alexander-Arnold had more touches on the ball (109) than any other player and camped in the Everton half for much of the game.
While the Englishman did play in 3 key passes, including one from a corner which Joel Matip ought to have converted, his overall output was well away from his top levels, with the youngster completing just 3 of the 12 crosses he attempted. Hardly broke a sweat defensively.
Joel Matip: 7/10
Preferred to Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren, Matip had a solid evening, winning each of the 7 duels he contested. The Cameroonian also took higher positions on the pitch, with Liverpool dominating possession for the most part and on the ball, he went on to misplace just 3 passes. Should have done better when meeting Alexander-Arnold’s cross, which knocks back a point for him.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
Liverpool’s defensive leader returned to action looking just as bright and commanding on the field as ever, which made it seem like he had never even been away. Domineering in the air, van Dijk won 10 aerial duels. Also completed the most passes in the game, with one to Joe Gomez standing out. A good retort to Richarlison following the Brazilian’s jibe in the build-up to the game.
James Milner: 6/10
With Andrew Robertson not fit enough to be involved, Milner started as Liverpool’s left-back against Everton. The difference in the two players’ output was evident, though, with Milner barely making any impact in the final third before being taken off before half-time due to a hamstring injury. Harshly booked for a challenge on Richarlison.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
The Liverpool captain made a solid return to action, as he kept play ticking in typical fashion. One big shortcoming in his game, though, was a lack of accuracy with his crosses (he completed none of the 4 he attempted), although he did complete 5/7 long balls. Proactive off the ball, Henderson won 2 duels in addition to making 2 successful tackles and completing 1 interception.
Fabinho was a bit nervy to start off and gave the ball away cheaply in the early exchanges, but he quickly found his feet. When he did, the Brazilian helped assert Liverpool’s dominance in the middle of the park, completing 55/59 passes while also having a 100 percent accuracy with long balls. He also won 7 duels and made 3 successful tackles. A superb all round showing.
Naby Keita: 8/10
Naby Keïta completed more final third passes (11) and made more ball recoveries (6) than any other Liverpool player in the first half vs. Everton.
Good to see him back on the pitch. 🇬🇳 pic.twitter.com/WftLkxU6i6
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 21, 2020
Starting ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum, this was Keita’s chance to impress, particularly in the wake of reports claiming that he could be sold this summer. And impress he did, producing an all-action performance, complete with a team-high 6 recoveries in addition to 1 key pass.
In fact, Keita was one player who looked like he could make the difference, making the most final third passes (11) among Liverpool players. Helped out Milner and, later on, Joe Gomez when Everton looked to heap on the pressure through Alex Iwobi and Seamus Coleman. Just the kind of display that will make him a regular for Liverpool.
Takumi Minamino: 6/10
Mohamed Salah failed to prove his fitness, meaning Minamino made his first Premier League start on Sunday. The Japanese forward was lively in the final third and took aim at the Everton goal early on. Helped out defensively, but often drifted in to spaces that Roberto Firmino occupies. Taking slow steps towards establishing himself in the Liverpool first-team setup.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
An underwhelming outing for Firmino, who was not quite at his best. While typically energetic off the ball, it was his output on the ball that was rather unimpressive, with the Brazilian losing the ball 10 times in a game wherein he had just 32 touches. Had one great exchange early on with Keita, but should have passed on to the Guinean instead of taking a shot in a chance later in the game.
Sadio Mane: 5/10
As is usually the case with him, Mane was purposeful after an embarrassing start to the game, when he ran on the first whistle instead of taking the customary knee. However, his end product left a lot to be desired, as Everton captain, Coleman had the measure of him for large parts of the game. His 3 key passes salvaged some pride for him, but Mane needs to improving going forward.
Joe Gomez: 7/10
Thrown into the game in the first half after Milner’s injury-enforced substitution, Gomez played in the left-back role he reprised early on in his Liverpool career. While not as impactful as Robertson is, he still was a constant outlet down the left flank and had a couple of fantastic exchanges across the field with Alexander-Arnold.
Solid defensively, he got a crucial touch to deflect Tom Davies’s shot towards the post from the rebound after Alisson had saved Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s flick. With Matip hobbling off towards the end of the game, it is likely that Gomez will start alongside van Dijk in Liverpool’s next game.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
On for Minamino at half-time, Oxlade-Chamberlain was not involved a great deal but looked in good touch whenever he got himself on the ball. Made just 9 passes in the second half, as Everton started to take the game to Liverpool. However, he also won 4 duels, which was crucial in the defensive phase.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 5/10
Wijnaldum replaced the impressive Keita, but failed to continue from where the incumbent had left off. The Dutchman had just 13 touches and although he did complete each of his 10 passes, he could not force the winner that Klopp desperately sought from his side.
Divock Origi: 5/10
Given the last 25 minutes to make some difference, Origi, who has such a fine record against Everton, looked rusty and did not quite get into dangerous positions to force the issue.
Dejan Lovren: 4/10
On for the injured Matip, Lovren was nearly the reason Liverpool lost in embarrassing fashion. The Croat was the single biggest reason Everton had the two best chances in the game late on, as he was caught napping on both occasions. Is likely to be the fourth-choice centre-back now.