PLAYER RATINGS: ASTON VILLA 1-3 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool earned their second away league win of the season by winning 3-1 at Villa Park tonight. A healthy first half lead courtesy of Salah and Van Dijk was halved by Watkins second half, but Bajcetic stepped off the bench to secure the points. Here are player ratings from the encounter.
Alisson – 7.5
The best goalkeeper in the world was back in action tonight. He made a sensational stop to thwart Watkins first half, offside or not. His positioning meant he made other saves look routine. Nothing he could do about Watkins’ perfectly placed header.
Alexander-Arnold – 8
Put on a passing clinic today. What a pass to Robertson for the opening goal, and with the outside of his boot too! Incredible. Played similar switches to the left wing and was generally assured in possession. Defended well too. Got enough on the ball to thwart Digne in the box first half and avoid giving away a penalty. A welcome return to action.
Matip – 6.5
First hour he was very ropey, losing almost every duel with Watkins. It was no real surprise when the striker peeled away from him to steer a header into the bottom corner. He improved thereafter, with some excellent one on one defending on the verge of his own box. One late on to stop Coutinho was solid defending.
Van Dijk – 8
Good to have him back. The side were better for it as they coped far better with crosses into the box than they managed at City. He was on hand to make several crucial blocks and clearances in the box. Terrific finish on his weaker foot to make it 2-0.
Robertson – 9
He was breathtaking first half. About a minute in he swung in a devilish cross for Darwin to attack, only for the big man to let it run. He repeated the trick shortly after, this time with a controlled first time cross to put one on a plate for Salah. His set piece deliveries were on the money as well. Defended Bailey excellently, avoiding a penalty giveaway late on by keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the ball. Most assists by a defender in Premier League history. Still more to come.
Fabinho – 8
Looked back to his tough tackling best. Won a fair share of his challenges in the middle of the park and wasn’t shy to get forward when necessary. Unlucky not to score when his strike from the edge of the box whistled past the post. He’s key to the side so it’s imperative he maintains this level of performance.
Henderson – 7.5
First half he was incredible. Charged and closed down relentlessly to disrupt Villa’s rhythm. Combined well with Salah down the right. Simply superb first half. Second half he tired. Still showed heart to get back and block one shot on the counter. The lack of legs in the midfield is an issue though.
Thiago – 5.5
Not at his best today. Constantly outran in midfield and lost Leon Bailey one too many times. He couldn’t really exert his influence on the game in terms of controlling proceedings. A distinct lack of legs in the second half was alarming. Could have been subbed sooner.
Salah – 7.5
Tucked home at the backpost after a ridiculous bit of play between the fullbacks. Reacted quickly to find Van Dijk for the second. His pace in behind caused problems and he should have tucked away a chance he created for himself when he ran all the way from his own half into the Villa box.
Darwin – 6.5
Tough to rate Darwin tonight. He did everything right in terms of stretching the pitch with his pace in behind and the timing of his runs. Inexplicably though, he missed four clear cut chances. Poor finishing let him down yet again. He showed that electric pace late on to get away from his man and register another effort on goal, with Bajcetic capitalising on Olsen’s parry to make the game safe.
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6
Passeable job on the left wing. Did about as well as you can expect really. Nothing extraordinary, just solid. That’s not how you want to describe an attacker but we are where we are. Looked to have picked up a knock when Salah fell into him in the box.
Keita – 5
On for Thiago but couldn’t really dominate in midfield. Lost out on several 50-50s.
Elliott – 5.5
Played on the left wing and sought to help Robertson out with McGinn and Bailey were doubling up on him.
Gomez – 5.5
Lovely first time ball in behind for Darwin to chase. That led to the third goal. Rushed out of position to press and was easily bypassed, leaving a gaping hole that Matip did well to fill and halt Coutinho in the box.
Bajcetic – 8
What an impact! Showed composure beyond his years to sell the keeper a dummy before nutmegging Mings on the goalline. He played well aside the goal too, winning tackles in midfield and breezing past players at times.
Doak – N/A
Skinned Digne down the right wing and forced a corner from Mings. A useful option for late on in games when the opposition are committing bodies forward and leaving gaps behind.
A crucial win for the gaffer. His lineup was spot on, his changes too. His decision to hand the youngsters a chance off the bench paid off with Bajcetic getting on the scoresheet. Investment in midfield is still glaring but the Reds are now 5 points off top four with a game in hand. The race is on.