Football Features

“A world-class wizard in-the-making” – Player ratings from Anfield as Phil Foden leaves Liverpool with three straight home defeats

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:52, 7 February 2021

In an incredible evening of football, Man City devastated Liverpool 1-4 at Anfield to confirm their status as champions-elect atop the Premier League.

This was Pep Guardiola’s first-ever win away to Liverpool. The Reds’ third consective home defeat has not only all-but killed any chance of them retaining their title, but on a day when all Man City’s rivals dropped points it’s put Pep’s men well in the clear to be 2020/21 Premier League champions.

Here’s how the players rated at Anfield:

Liverpool

Alisson – 3 – A solid display turned into a disaster 70 minutes in when Alisson’s passing radar and spatial awareness vanished. He began giving the ball away ludicrously, twice in a quick spell which led to City’s second and then again minutes later which led to their third. He completed his miserable night by making a poor effort to save Phil Foden’s shock. Perhaps rushing someone back from illness is not the smartest idea and Kelleher should have started?

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6 – Some nice crosses in attack and really got involved defensively even if he was unable to handle Raheem Sterling in any way shape or form.

Fabinho – 4 – Conceded a penalty with a foolish foul and never looked capable of handling City’s attackers in full flight.

Jordan Henderson – 5 – Coped better than Fabinho in defence until Phil Foden started running at him when his legs turned to jelly.

Andrew Robertson – 6 – A solid and consistent outlet in attack and City’s only reliable defender on the night.

Thiago Alcantara – 5 – A miserable performance from the brilliant Spaniard. Tepid passing matched up with nasty fouls chasing back. He’s obviously not settled in England but he’s better than this. Or he should be, anyway.

Georginio Wijnaldum – 6 – A more dynamic and energetic performance than Thiago but still very little influence.

Curtis Jones – 7 – The best of Liverpool’s outfield players by some distance. Full of purpose, skill and technique. Had no fear of City’s defenders and always took it to them, keeping Liverpool’s momentum up. Their collapse came after he was subbed off, which is probably not a coincidence as the Reds suddenly became devoid of energy and direction.

Mohamed Salah – 7 – Expertly won and converted the penalty to draw Liverpool level but did almost nothing else.

Roberto Firmino – 6 – One superb snapshot stung the palms of Ederson but that was all he managed.

Sadio Mané – 5 – Anonymous. Clearly nowhere near full-fitness.

Substitutes:

Xherdan Shaqiri (for 68′) – 5 – Added nothing.

James Milner (for 68′) – 5 – Did nothing.

Kostas Tismikas (for 85′) – n/a – Came on late.


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Manchester City

Ederson – 6 – Had precious little to do. Great save from a Firmino snapshot.

Joao Cancelo – 7 – A superb first-half where he was the brightest threat for a dour City side. Ended the night with a team-high 4 tackles.

John Stones – 8 – Rock solid at the back. Made a game-high 6 clearances and was flawless throughout.

Ruben Dias – 5 – Equally s flawless as his centre-back partner except for that moment when he gave the ball away foolishly and then hauled Mohamed Salah down for a penalty. It was uncharacteristic, but it happened.

Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7 – Did well in attack but really got involved defensively with 3 interceptions.

Rodrigo – 7 – Ran the show from the base of midfield. Utterly untroubled by Liverpool with 3 tackles, 5 clearances and 10 possessions won.

Ilkay Gundogan – 8 – Missed a penalty when he thwacked it over the bar but bagged two goals from “Dirk Kuyt distance” smashing it high into the roof of the net to twice give City the lead. Has now scored nine times in his last 11 games!

Bernardo Silva – 7 – Really grew into the game and his pressing was crucial in turning the game back into Man City’s favour in the second-half. An absolutely majestic assist for Raheem Sterling killed the game as a contest.

Riyad Mahrez – 5 – Disappointing. A couple of nice moments but ultimately didn’t do anything. Subbed off.

Raheem Sterling – 8 – Some of his final passes were a bit suspect but he was absolutely untouchable with the ball at his feet. Stitched up Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho on more than one occasion. Won a penalty and then scored the third nicely.

Phil Foden – 9 – Absolutely phenomenal. People have been clamouring for him to play for years but Pep Guardiola has managed his development perfectly, holding him back and allowing him to grow into his physique and his skill-set until now. And this season he has been unleashed on the Premier League.

The Reds quite simply could not get anywhere near Foden today. He made a joint-team-high 3 interceptions and then with the ball just tortured Liverpool every time he was on it. Playing as a false nine he was so elusive. It was his snapshot that Alisson palmed out for Gundogan to tap home City’s first goal, he made a glorious assist for City’s second goal where he blew by Jordan Henderson like he wasn’t there. And then finished the night off with a dynamic dribble thunderous strike to make it 1-4.

After years of waiting, Sunday 7th February was the day that Philip Walter Foden announced himself to the world. This was his grand unveiling. Pep Guardiola has been working away in the lab and the Catalan coach has made himself an absolute dynamo, a world-class wizard in-the-making. Phil Foden, take a bow son.

Substitutes:

Gabriel Jesus (for Mahrez 72′) – 7 – Came on and added more of a presence in attack for City.