Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa: Player ratings as Gerrard loses on Anfield return


Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa: Player ratings as Gerrard loses on Anfield return

By Sean Walsh
Salah scored from the spot
Salah scored from the spot / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Steven Gerrard was denied a fairytale return to Anfield as his Aston Villa side were beaten 1-0 by Liverpool.

The visitors defended deep for much of the game in the hope of sneaking a point, but were eventually breached and left it too late to launch meaningful attacks.

Liverpool were denied an early penalty when Sadio Mane was impeded by Matty Cash, with Stuart Attwell telling the Senegalese forward to get to his feet.

The first half chance of the game soon followed when Andy Robertson's cutback was met by Trent Alexander-Arnold, but his effort was deflected wide.

Robertson then nearly grabbed a goal with a far-post header, but Emi Martinez was alert and kept it out, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a shot from distance sail just over the top of the bar.

Cash was again at the centre of a penalty debate for a challenge on Robertson, but again Attwell dismissed the hosts' claims, before Salah attempted to beat Martinez at the near post but the Argentine got down just in time to keep it out.

Liverpool maintained their dominance in the second half as Virgil van Dijk nearly found the net from a corner, with Martinez again doing well to keep it at 0-0.

Villa had to weather several waves of Liverpool attacks, but eventually their resistance broke when Tyrone Mings brought down Salah in the penalty area, and the Egyptian converted from the spot.

Gerrard threw on fellow former Red Danny Ings in search of an equaliser, and with Villa finally in the ascendancy, Alisson brought the striker down after a mix-up with Joel Matip. However, neither Attwell or VAR thought the challenge was illegal.

Liverpool player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Robertson was a busy man / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Alisson (GK) - 4/10 - Didn't have much to do and yet still had a couple of seriously hairy moments.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) - 7/10 - A menace on the ball and rarely troubled going the other way. Had one uncertain moment where Young tackled him on the byline and nearly caused a scramble in the Liverpool area but the Reds survived.

Joel Matip (CB) - 7/10 - Didn't put a foot wrong but wasn't ever in a position to do so.

Virgil van Dijk (CB) - 7/10 - Rarely troubled but did receive an early booking for a clumsy challenge on Watkins. Dealt well with the late aerial bombardment.

Andy Robertson (LB) - 9/10 - Like his full-back partner, his aggression and physicality made it hard for Villa to retain possession, while he was similarly potent going forward.

2. Midfielders

Jacob Ramsey, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson
Fabinho and Henderson were dominant / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Fabinho (DM) - 8/10 - A very comfortable midfield battle for the Brazilian without needing to be spectacular.

Jordan Henderson (CM) - 7/10 - Worked hard as always, supporting Alexander-Arnold down the right flank.

Thiago (CM) - 6/10 - Struggled to play simple passes. A strange game for someone with so much ability.

3. Forwards

Mohamed Salah
Another game, another goal / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Mohamed Salah (RW) - 9/10 - Villa actually did a half-decent job of ensuring Salah had a quiet game by his own standards, but even then he created a bucket load of chances for himself and others.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CF) - 4/10 - Just isn't a centre forward. Had some joy dropping deep but none as the focal point.

Sadio Mane (LW) - 6/10 - Carved out some good openings but lacked that killer touch.

4. Substitutes

Diogo Jota (CF, 58' for Oxlade-Chamberlain) - 6/10 - Looked far more comfortable through the middle than the former Arsenal man.

James Milner (CM, 83' for Thiago) - 5/10

Takumi Minamino (LW, 88' for Mane) - N/A

Aston Villa player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & defenders

Mohamed Salah, Tyrone Mings
A moment of madness / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Emiliano Martinez (GK) - 8/10 - Had to stay alert in order to block Liverpool shots and intercept crosses. Nearly got a hand to Salah's flawless penalty.

Matty Cash (RB) - 6/10 - Saw plenty of action defensively but was never necessarily caught out.

Ezri Konsa (CB) - 8/10 - Hey, it's not his fault that Villa lost, and certainly not his fault that his centre back partner is so prone to errors.

Tyrone Mings (CB) - 4/10 - Defended well for the most part, but was punished for a lapse in concentration by conceding a penalty.

Matt Targett (LB) - 7/10 - Did a great job in slowing Liverpool's right side down, but eventually Salah's greatness shone through.

6. Midfielders

McGinn was unable to pick the lock / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Marvelous Nakamba (DM) - 3/10 - Squashed in the midfield battle. Replaced shortly after half time.

Douglas Luiz (CM) - 4/10 - Seemingly incapable of keeping possession when under pressure.

John McGinn (CM) - 4/10 - Tried playing it long to beat Liverpool's press, but was scarcely successful.

7. Forwards

Joel Matip, Ollie Watkins
Watkins was very quiet / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Jacob Ramsey (RW) - 5/10 - Looked dangerous whenever on the ball, which wasn't anywhere near enough.

Ollie Watkins (CF) - 2/10 - Pressed from the front. That was about it. No chances of any sort.

Ashley Young (LW) - 5/10 - Worked hard to plug gaps and you can understand why Gerrard started him here.

8. Substitutes

Morgan Sanson (CM, 57' for Nakamba) - 4/10 - Brought on to help with the midfield battle. At least he wasn't any worse than Nakamba, but still unimpressive.

Emiliano Buendia (LW, 69' for Young) - 6/10 - Brought a much-needed creative spark.

Danny Ings (CF, 74' for Ramsey) - 6/10 - Made several good runs that went unnoticed.