Jurgen Klopp denies Liverpool are people's choice for Premier League title
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Liverpool maintained their faint hopes of Premier League glory by coming from behind to beat Aston Villa away from home in spite of a lacklustre all-round performance on Tuesday evening. Douglas Luiz’s quick-fire opener was immediately cancelled out by Joel Matip’s equaliser before Sadio Mane headed home with just 25 minutes remaining to secure a much-needed victory for the Reds, who will be desperately hoping for Manchester City to slip up and give them a lifeline between now and the end of the season.
Express Sport provides a full rundown of the Liverpool player ratings after Jurgen Klopp’s side were forced to work hard for a positive result under the lights at Villa Park.
Alisson Becker – 6
Only had his defenders to blame for Villa’s goal, which he could have done little to prevent. Made an uncharacteristically bad error when he gifted possession to Ollie Watkins just outside the area before saving his blushes by hoofing the ball clear at the last second. Recovered well to remain solid for the rest of the match but did not stand out as one of his side’s best players.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Failed to stop the cross that met Luiz’s head for Villa’s early goal but had more joy down the right-hand side with the ball at feet. Delivered a pinpoint cross to set up Naby Keita as half-time approached but the Guinean was unable to convert. Will be hoping to produce a more influential showing at Wembley on Saturday.
Joel Matip – 6
Was probably one of Liverpool’s better players over the course of the 90 minutes. Got himself into the right place at the right time to slot home Liverpool’s equaliser but struggled in defence on a few occasions in the first half. Managed to settle down as the game progressed, though, and made his presence known at the back after the interval.
Virgil van Dijk – 5
Was caught napping as Watkins turned him inside out in the build-up to Villa’s early goal, then collided with Kostas Tsimikas while competing for a header with Luiz before the latter rammed the ball home. Saw a shot saved up the other end moments later before the ball fell into the path of Matip for a simple finish. Was left for dead by Philippe Coutinho shortly after half-time and needed to be saved by Tsimikas’ covering tackle. Not his finest showing in a Liverpool shirt but did okay despite failing to live up to his own lofty standards.
Kostas Tsimikas – 5
Was all over the place for Villa’s goal as he failed to stop a cross from the right-hand side before tangling with Van Dijk and Luiz to give the Villa man an easy finish from close range. Was also caught ball-watching on a couple of occasions but eventually regained his concentration as the game settled down before making a crucial last-ditch tackle to deny Watkins shortly after the break.
Fabinho – 4
Made no shortage of silly fouls and was responsible for a handful of loose touches that surrendered possession to the hosts before he was hooked with an injury on the half-hour mark. Will be looking to redeem himself at Wembley if he is passed fit to face Chelsea on the weekend.
Naby Keita – 5
Has been impressive at times over the last few months but the action seemed to pass him by on this occasion. Was handed a golden chance to score when he was picked out by Alexander-Arnold but managed to get the ball caught under his feet as he tried to send it towards goal. Did not have a great game but was no worse than many of his Liverpool team-mates in a muted all-round showing for the Reds.
Curtis Jones – 5
Stepped in for Thiago Alcantara, who was given a well-earned rest ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup final. Gave the ball away on a handful of occasions and often failed to track back to support Tsimikas down the left-hand side, which left the Greek defender exposed. Tried hard to make things happen as he grew into the game but generally lacked an end product in spite of his best efforts. Was eventually replaced by Thiago on the hour mark.
Sadio Mane – 6
Took on a playmaking role and was able to orchestrate Liverpool’s attack with his accomplished range of passing in the first half. Only needed one chance to decide the result and took it when he latched onto Luis Diaz’s cross to nod the ball past Emiliano Martinez and into the back of the net.
Luis Diaz – 6
Has turned plenty of heads since arriving at Anfield back in January but was fairly anonymous for large parts of the match at Villa Park. Initially took up a place on the right-hand side of Liverpool’s front three but is clearly more comfortable on the left and went on to provide the assist for Mane’s winner after he was eventualy moved over to his preferred flank. Not his best performance but he was still able to produce another match-winning contribution, which is what matters at the end of the day.
Diogo Jota – 5
Often managed to get himself into some promising areas and played a role for his team in attack but, like so many of his team-mates, appeared to lack the required end product over the course of the contest. Pressed well in the early stages of the match but ended up faltering away and did not exert as great an influence as he would have liked at Villa Park.
Jordan Henderson – 6
Managed to perform better than Fabinho and his leadership qualities appeared to instil a sense of calmness after he was introduced from the bench in the first half. Kept things ticking in the middle of the park while steering clear of high-profile errors. Did not set the world alight but did his job well.
Thiago Alcantara – 6
Was introduced in place of Jones and immediately gave Liverpool some much-needed additional energy in midfield. Won the ball to kickstart the move that ended with Mane’s goal and dictated proceedings as the clock ticked down.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Was initially named on the substitutes’ bench ahead of the FA Cup final but came on for Diaz with just 20 minutes remaining. Looked dangerous with the ball at feet on occasion but did not have enough time to stamp his authority on proceedings and take the match by the scruff of the neck.
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