Marko Grujic stood out while Mohamed Salah was sub-par as Liverpool were booted out of the Carabao Cup by Arsenal on Thursday.
In stark contrast to the game at Anfield earlier this week, this was an occasion lacking the usual entertainment factor, with chances coming few and far between over the course of the ninety. When they did flow, Liverpool were the team that conjured up the better opportunities, with Bernd Leno keeping Arsenal in the game throughout.
On the opposite end, the Gunners did test Adrian on occasion, with the Spaniard equal to whatever was thrown at him. The game eventually went to penalties after a goalless stalemate, with Divock Origi and Harry Wilson having their spot-kicks saved by Leno, as Liverpool crashed out of the Carabao Cup at the hands of Arsenal. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
A solid effort by Adrian, who filled in well for Alisson Becker in the Carabao Cup tie. While Arsenal did not threaten his goal much during regulation time, the Spaniard was still alert to the dangers that presented themselves occasionally, first smartly denying Eddie Nketiah before saving Rob Holding’s header.
In the shootout, Adrian put Liverpool in a commanding position when he saved Mohamed Elneny’s spot-kick. However, he could not save any other penalty and should have had a strong hand to stop Joe Willock’s match-winning shot. Nevertheless, one of the better performers against Arsenal, was Adrian.
Neco Williams: 7/10
Neco Williams copped a lot of flak for his performance against Lincoln City last week. In the build-up to the game, the young full-back appeared determined to prove his naysayers wrong and that is exactly what he did against Arsenal.
His numbers were simply outstanding, as Williams completed 5 interceptions, won 9 duels, made 5 successful tackles while playing in 2 key passes. The flipside was that he lost possession a few too many times (28 in all), but he more than made up for it with his defensive display. A big step in the right direction.
Neco Williams vs Arsenal
-2 key passes
MOTM, Shutting up his doubters👏🏽🏴 pic.twitter.com/HYytlCVXAw
— dylan🏴 (@JuneCymru) October 1, 2020
Rhys Williams: 7/10
Starting a second Carabao Cup game in a row at the heart of the Liverpool defence, Rhys Williams was impressive once again. The youngster forged a solid partnership with Virgil van Dijk, hardly letting Adrian break a sweat, with 4 clearances and 2 interceptions to show for his efforts, while he was dribbled past just twice. Strong in the air as well, winning 5 duels aerially.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
Virgil van Dijk was as Virgil van Dijk usually hopes to be at the back – formidable and indomitable. The Dutchman won each of his duels against Arsenal and organised the backline so well that he hardly had to make a defensive action in the game. Not as accurate with the ball at his feet as he usually is, though, as he lost the ball 11 times and had a passing rate of 77 percent.
James Milner: 7/10
With Andrew Robertson rested and Kostas Tsimikas injured, the versatile and tireless Milner filled in at left-back. While he did not carry a great deal of threat down the left flank, with just 1 key pass played, the veteran Englishman rarely let Nicolas Pepe get the better of him. He also converted his spot-kick, only for Liverpool to eventually bow out of the Carabao Cup.
Marko Grujic: 8/10
— TheKop.com (@TheKop_com) October 1, 2020
Given another chance to impress in the Carabao Cup, Grujic was by far the best Liverpool player on Thursday. Pulling the strings effortlessly from the middle of the park, the Serb created one big chance and even had a couple of shots saved by the impregnable Bernd Leno. Defensively, he was a wall in midfield, keeping a check on his counterparts smartly. Making a point to Klopp.
Curtis Jones: 6/10
The boy wonder of the Liverpool academy, at least as far as midfield is concerned, Jones has been a super find in the past year or so. Against Arsenal, however, the 19-year-old was well off his best and had a few sloppy moments on the ball. Still, he converted from the spot during the shootout. Scope for improvement.
Harry Wilson: 5/10
A surprise starter, considering he has been linked with a possible summer exit. Wilson, though, did not grab his opportunity with both hands and often hesitated in taking his man on. The Welshman then went on to miss his penalty, which ultimately contributed to Liverpool’s ouster at the hands of Arsenal.
Takumi Minamino: 6/10
It was a game of hits and misses for Minamino. One of the brightest sparks for Liverpool in the first half, the Japanese star nearly gave Liverpool the lead, only for his thumping point-blank effort to slam the crossbar. In the second half, he started growing out of the game, as Arsenal rallied. Got the ball into the net in the shootout, however.
Diogo Jota: 6/10
Making his first start for Liverpool, Jota looked like a man on a mission initially, making a number of dangerous runs down the left flank. The Portuguese even played in 3 key passes, but needed to do better when he spurned a glorious opportunity. One of those who were thwarted by the inspired Bernd Leno as well. Ought to be an asset for Klopp despite a blank against Arsenal.
Jurgen Klopp on Dioga Jota: “Diogo had some good moments [vs Arsenal], his physicality with his technique was really good to watch. We showed the quality, it just didn't work out tonight and that is completely okay. We will try again, I will promise.” #awlfc [liverpool echo] pic.twitter.com/IfPxSC9kQy
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) October 2, 2020
Mohamed Salah: 5/10
Salah was another surprise start, with Klopp choosing not to rest him. The Egyptian, though, was a bit out of sorts, flitting in and out of the game. In fact, Salah did not even manage to muster a shot on goal before being taken off for Divock Origi. There have and will be better days.
Divock Origi: 5/10
Replacing Salah in attack was our player to watch ahead of the game. Origi, though, hardly made an impact, failing to take a shot before missing his penalty. A whimper of a cameo.
Joe Gomez: 7/10
Gomez replaced van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence and pretty much carried on from where his senior teammate left off, barely letting the Arsenal attack get on top of the game.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Wijnaldum entered the game with 15 minutes left and added some much-needed injection of energy. However, he could not inspire a game-changing goal, although he did convert his spot-kick.