Alisson Becker was the clear standout while Sadio Mane and Naby Keita made the difference as Liverpool beat Aston Villa 2-0 on Sunday.
In what was their first game at Anfield since being crowned the Premier League champions, Liverpool were utterly uninspiring, with Alisson Becker the only player impressing as the final quarter of the game began. Indeed, Aston Villa had the better chances till the first 70 minutes of the game before the deadlock was broken.
It was Sadio Mane who put the Reds ahead, scoring with a first-time shot from Naby Keita’s pass. The Reds were then in total control before the win was rounded off in the 89th minute, as Curtis Jones scored his first Premier League goal with a sublime finish. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 8/10
Quite easily the best player for Liverpool on Sunday. With the hosts looking sub-par for much of the game, it was upon Alisson to stay alert and stave off any threat that Aston Villa looked to create. The Brazilian did so with elan, making 3 saves, with one to deny Jack Grealish standing out. Only misplaced 4 passes, with each of them being long balls. Excellent.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5/10
Another average showing by Alexander-Arnold, who could perhaps, do with some break. The young full-back saw a lot of the ball, but failed to do anything with it as his crosses looked hopeful instead of having any bite to them (1/10 completed). Lost possession an alarming 23 times, in addition. Left a lot of space in behind him as well, which was exploited at times.
Joe Gomez: 7/10
Starting yet again despite a disastrous performance against Manchester City, Gomez was superb on Sunday. The young centre-back neutralised Keinan Davis entirely with some top class reading of the game. Did good work with the ball at his feet, completing 80/90 passes and aiding his side’s build-up. The last performance was likely a mere blip.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
He might not be getting any rest, but van Dijk just continues to be domineering at the back. In total control all throughout, the Dutchman won 5 aerial duels while clearing the ball 6 times. At times, his organisation of the back-line was poor but more often than not, he ensured that any threat was dealt with calmly.
Andrew Robertson: 5/10
Like Alexander-Arnold on the right flank, Robertson was not quite at his best for second game in a row. The Scotsman is lacking that drive in the final third and despite having the most touches (102) in the game, his crosses could only find their man once, although that sole cross eventually led to Curtis Jones’s goal.
Much like his partner-in-crime, though, he was sloppy in losing possession, doing so 22 times. In need of a breather and some inspiration.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 5/10
Handed a rare start, this was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s chance to impress. However, the Englishman squandered his opportunity big time. The former Arsenal midfielder cannot be faulted for a lack of effort, but his work on the ball left a lot to be desired. Oxlade-Chamberlain barely created a threat and despite having just 44 touches, he lost possession 13 times. Back to the drawing board.
Another player who stepped up after failing to impress last time out. Fabinho was commanding at the base of midfield, rarely letting anything past him while covering the spaces that were vacated by Alexander-Arnold. Passing rate was an excellent 93 percent (41/44). Taken off at the hour mark for a well deserved rest.
Naby Keita: 7/10
Back in the starting lineup for the first time since the Everton game last month, Keita performed just as he had done in that game. This time around, though, he also saw a lot of the ball, getting 94 touches.
Initially, though, he looked to keep things simple instead of trying to find a way past the Aston Villa defence. However, eventually, it was his pass that did the trick, finding Sadio Mane, who converted Keita’s low ball with a first time shot. That was Keita’s second key pass in the game. Might have done enough to warrant another start in the next game.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
Against Manchester City, Salah was a clear standout among a poor bunch. Against Aston Villa, the Egyptian retained his level, when he really needed to raise them. The former Chelsea forward was still as purposeful as ever, but the final ball was missing from his game on Sunday.
Should have been awarded a penalty for being brought down in the box, but it was deemed that he went down too easily. Salah, though, did get an assist out of his performance when he deftly nodded the ball for Jones to score from.
Divock Origi: 5/10
Replacing Roberto Firmino, Origi was given a chance to stake his claim for the striker’s berth. But, the Belgian left a lot to be desired from his display against Aston Villa. Having very little chemistry with Salah and Mane, Origi often drifted out of the game, especially when he interchanged positions with Mane. Never stopped trying before being taken off for Firmino.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 6, 2020
For nearly 70 minutes in the game, Mane endured another forgettable outing as he was wasteful in possession (he lost the ball 12 times) and hardly carried a threat. However, Mane was still looking to make things happen constantly. In the end, he made the difference when he scored from Keita’s pass, earning Liverpool all three points. Up to 20 goals for the season now.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
Introduced in place of the faltering Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson brought an instant infusion of energy and intent that was lacking in Liverpool’s game before his arrival. Heavily involved in Jones’s goal, opening up play by finding Robertson, whose cross found Salah before the young midfielder scored.
Roberto Firmino: 7/10
With Origi hardly delivering, Firmino was thrown into the game to do things only he does. Indeed, his arrival made a great deal of difference as for both the goals, his movement helped take an Aston Villa defender out of the game, creating enough time and space for Mane and Jones to score. Nearly had one goal himself, only to be denied by former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Another dull display by Wijnaldum, who did nothing of note and was on the periphery for much of his cameo.
Curtis Jones: 7/10
A good week for Curtis Jones:
New contract ✅
First #PL goal ✅
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 5, 2020
Usually, players subbed in after 75 minutes do not get a rating, but Jones gets one for scoring his first Premier League goal. Coming into this game on the back of signing a new long-term deal, the teenager was lively in his short appearance.
Started the move for his goal before producing a stunning finish, showing that he has high potential when he advances forward. Bright future ahead.
Neco Williams: N/A
A late introduction, Williams helped see the game out.