Alexander-Arnold, Salah both 7/10 as Liverpool climb back into the top four

Liverpool kept their Premier League top-four hopes alive with a dramatic 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.

Ollie Watkins scored just before half-time to give Villa the lead completely against the run of play, only for Roberto Firmino‘s scuffed finish to be ruled out by VAR. Klopp’s men did finally manage to get what they deserved in the form of a Mohamed Salah equaliser in the second half, and then in injury time, Trent Alexander-Arnold curled in a lovely goal to complete a stunning turnaround on Merseyside.

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Positives

Liverpool reverted back to the high line that got them to the dance, and while it wasn’t perfect, they were definitely the dominant side throughout today — which hasn’t always been the case in the last few months. They mixed up their passing with some nice variety in long balls and short bursts, and when they went quite direct, it often paid off.

Negatives

Some of the fouls committed by the Reds felt quite lazy and needless, often offering Villa the chance to push further up the pitch in the process. It’s obvious to see some lingering effects from the problems they’ve had this season, especially within their centre-back partnership, with the visitors constantly being gifted openings through gaps in their defensive structure.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Jurgen Klopp was always going to rotate some members of his squad but in terms of the setup and what the starting XI produced, there was a lot to like. It was a no-nonsense performance and a lot of the blame for their mistakes can be put on the players individually, although some will question the time it took for the manager to make his substitutions.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 5 — He may have produced a few nice stops but ultimately, Liverpool’s goalkeeper was at fault with poor positioning for Watkins’ goal.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 — Trent’s misplaced passes and questionable defending meant nothing in injury time when he scored a beauty to win the game.

DF Ozan Kabak, 6 — Needs to showcase better communication with Nathaniel Phillips especially when tracking his man, although his initial instincts tend to be on the money.

DF Nathaniel Phillips, 7 — Wasn’t afraid to make his way over the halfway line and regularly dealt with Watkins up top. With that being said, his spatial awareness needs some work.

DF Andrew Robertson, 7 — Horrendous finishing aside, Robertson provides a constant service as a great crosser into the box.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 — Never seemed to be at his best and continually slowed down the pace of the game to the detriment of Liverpool.

MF James Milner, 6 — It was a typical veteran performance from Milner today from a tactical yellow card to his leadership qualities that the side needed in Henderson’s absence.

MF Fabinho, 7 — The composure shown whenever Fabinho is on the pitch goes above and beyond any other player in sight, and he showed that yet again at Anfield.

FW Mohamed Salah, 7 — A poor attempt in the 13th minute had many worried about Salah this afternoon, but he made up for it with an instinctive finish for the equaliser.

FW Roberto Firmino, 7 — In one of his better showings of the season, the Brazilian showcased outstanding footwork and great passing movement and also had a goal controversially ruled out by VAR.

FW Diogo Jota, 7 — The former Wolves man may not have been at the races with his finishing but he certainly played an important role in the lead-up to Salah’s header.

Substitutes

MF Thiago Alcantara, 6 — There’s an ease and elegance to Thiago‘s play that was on full display here, injecting life into Liverpool’s midfield when they needed it.

MF Xherdan Shaqiri, N/R — Was eager to get involved and never let a play die for as long as his cameo lasted.

FW Sadio Mane, N/R — Fought incredibly hard for every ball that came his way even if it never really came to much.

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