Football Features

Stark contrast to Real Madrid: Full player ratings as Alexander-Arnold inspires Liverpool to Aston Villa comeback

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:23, 10 April 2021 | Updated: 19:26, 10 September 2021

Liverpool moved back into the Premier League’s top four thanks to a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Ollie Watkins gave the visitors a first-half lead from goals from Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold turned things around for Liverpool, who consequently won their first league game at Anfield since December 2020 after one draw and six straight defeats.

The win put Liverpool into fourth, level on points with West Ham United but ahead on goal difference, while Aston Villa are 10th.

Here’s how the players rated at Anfield:

Liverpool

Alisson – 5 – The Moustache-less Brazilian didn’t have too much to do aside from a few routine saves across the game but he must shoulder a lot of the blame for Villa’s opener. Although Watkins’ strike was low and hit with power, Alisson should have done better, allowing the shot to go through him.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9 – Scoring the winner was the least Alexander-Arnold deserved for his performance at Anfield, providing a constant threat to Villa particularly in his early set-piece delivery. But what made him stand out even more was the strong defensive performance he put in. A stark contrast to his performance against Real Madrid.

Nathaniel Phillips – 7 – He was given a tough afternoon from Watkins once the Villa striker got into the game and was the weaker of Liverpool’s two centre-backs (albeit aerially strong). Some questions were asked over his involvement in Watkins’ goal, failing to close the gap left by Kabak for the initial clearance, which gave McGinn space to pass into.

Ozan Kabak – 8 – A strong performance from the young centre-back who dealt with pretty much everything thrown at him. Unlucky on to Watkins goal after some good initial defending.

Andrew Robertson – 7 – Another good attacking display from the Scot, exploiting the space Villa left down his flank and it was his shot that brought the equaliser.

James Milner – 5 – A passenger for large parts of the game when Liverpool needed something more.

Fabinho – 8 – So good. Not just the defensive part of the game where he all know he dominates, but also closer to the Aston Villa box too with some nice passes, runs and touches. It’s great to see him back in his actual position (even if he did drop to centre-back for the final few minutes).

Georginio Wijnaldum – 4 – The Dutchman is one of those players who perhaps needs to be followed with full focus to see just what he does for the team, but against Villa he was not what Liverpool needed. Wijnaldum was far too reserved on the ball, unnecessarily slowing down play too many times when Villa were there to be opened up. Of Always praised for his work but unnecessarily slowed down play too many times for Liverpool when Aston Villa were there to be opened up.

Mohamed Salah – 7 – Should have given Liverpool the lead in the first half when capitalising on Mings’ mistake but his shot was wide. Got the better of Mings again though in the second half, reacting quickest after Martinez had saved Robertson’s shot to equaliser. Always a threat.

Roberto Firmino – 6 – A decent performance from the Brazilian and he thought he had equalised for Liverpool just before half-time but it was ruled out for the tightest of offside calls in the build up. Produced one of the moments of the game though with a ridiculous first touch to kill the ball dead after it came down from a fair height. Ice cold.

Diogo Jota – 8 – Although he didn’t score, Jota was Liverpool’s most dangerous attacking player, especially in the first half, looking to get behind the Villa defence.

Substitutes:

Thiago (for Wijnaldum 70) – 6 – Brought more creativity to the Liverpool midfield, allowing them to increase the pressure on Villa.

Sadio Mane (for Firmino 75) – 6 – The next step for Liverpool turning the screw and missed a chance to make it 3-1 late on.

Xherdan Shaqiri (for Kabak 89) – N/A – A late sub.

Aston Villa

Emiliano Martinez – 6 – Commanded his box well and really couldn’t do much about Liverpool’s two goals, making a good initial save on the first and beaten by an excellent strike for the winner.

Matthew Cash – 7 – A good performance from the right-back though he was let down by the lack of defensive cover from those above him.

Ezri Konsa – 7 – Look rock solid for large parts of the game, easily Villa’s best centre-back right now.

Tyrone Mings – 6 – Was let off for an error in the first half, trying to control the ball on the edge of his own area but letting it run under his foot instead, only to see Salah drag his shot wide. Was beaten again by Salah for Liverpool’s equaliser, having been aware of the Egyptian’s presence behind only to allow him to get to the rebound first. Those two moments will define his game.

Matt Targett – 6 – Pinned back, and marshalled well, by Alexander-Arnold but protected his flank.

Douglas Luiz – 6 – There was a point in the first half where he looked to be going off with an unknown injury but played on and did well. He did have to tone things down a bit in the second half, however, after being booked.

Marvelous Nakamba – 7 – Protected the Villa defence well, especially when put under pressure by some slopping passing. Made a good tackle to dispossess Firmino on the edge of the when he was about to shoot in the first half, but was first off as Villa looked for a more attacking style.

Bertrand Traore – 3 – Had one moment when he played a good ball to Trezeguet in the first half but that was the extent of his contribution in a really poor performance. Did not offer any defensive help either.

John McGinn – 7 – Did the defensive work early on, covering for the gaps left by Traore, almost man-marking Jota at times, but eventually had to stay central. Broke the Liverpool defence with a lovely pass for Watkins’ goal.

Trezeguet – 5 – Looked to get at Alexander-Arnold but had very little luck with the Englishman in excellent form. Went close to giving Villa the lead in the second half but his outside of the boot effort curled into the post and away.

Ollie Watkins – 7 – Really didn’t do anything in the first half until he turned the game on its head with a well-taken finish. Gave centre-backs a lot of problems in the second half, especially Philips.

Substitutes:

Ross Barkley (for Nakamba 66) – 6 – Had some good opportunities after coming on to breach the Liverpool attack but he just couldn’t find the end product.

Anwar El Ghazi(for Traore 68) – 5 – Didn’t do enough to change the game after coming on.

Jacob Ramsey (for Trezeguet 82) – N/A – A late sub.

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