Player Ratings: Liverpool Held by Arsenal in Pulsating Clash

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Liverpool Held in Top of Table Battle

Matchday 18 saw the Reds start the day 3rd in the Premier League, with a chance to leapfrog both the Gunners and Aston Villa, who drew 1-1 with Sheffield United on Friday evening.

The lineup and subsequent ratings are listed below, from a very entertaining game of Christmas football under the Anfield lights.

Alisson Becker – 7.0
Had very little chance with Arsenal’s early goal, given the close proximity header on goal. The next hour or so was routine, due to his team’s common ability to fight back from a goal down. Was solid in all his work.

Kostas Tsimikas – 5.0
The Greek international was so unlucky with his injury, just as he started to get into the game. The shoulder looked much like that which has kept Andy Robertson sidelined for so long, which is horrible news for Liverpool.
Substituted – 35 mins

Trent Alexander Arnold – 7.0
The vice-captain had a very good first half, both on and off the ball. His influence on the game was apparent whenever the ball was at his feet, whereas he did not falter in his defensive responsibilities, as Gabriel Martinelli was largely maintained. The second half started even better for the England man, as he really started to dominate the Reds patterns of play. Unfortunately, tired legs became apparent through this team’s efforts. The famous number 66 really should have scored midway through the second half, as a mass counter left the winning goal on a plate.

Man of the Match

Ibrahima Konaté – 9.0
A return to weekend duties for the giant Frenchman, after his limited substitute appearance in the week. His power and athleticism were on full show in the first half, as his teammates relied upon his no-nonsense defending. The second half did not alter the 6 ft 4 in defender’s contribution, as he fought to protect his team in their ascendancy. Was vital later in the second half in keeping the goals conceded at one.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.0
The captain and leader of this team, he would have been disappointed with the early goal conceded, as the visitors broke his coordinated defensive line, off the assisting free-kick. The control within an intense opening half was largely maintained from that point, as he drove his players back into the game. His long-range passing was a constant feature for the 32-year-old, as he was constantly looking to release Mohamed Salah on the flank.

Dominik Szoboszlai – 7.0
The Hungarian skipper was a little sporadic in the first half, as he struggled to find the effortless rhythm that was on display against West Ham. His general play improved through that initial 45-minutes, as his team fought to outwork their north London adversaries. The second half saw his driving runs more frequent, but the final third decision was perhaps a little lacking.

Wataru Endō – 7.0
The Japan captain is now starting games more frequently, especially with Alexis Mac Allister out injured. Was quietly effective and aware to the potential dangers around him, which saw him create a yellow card worthy action late in the first period. Went about his work with little real contribution on the ball after the break, as his more creative teammates did their work.

Curtis Jones – 7.0
The English midfielder was magnificent in the week, therefore quite rightly held onto his starting status. The academy product was energetic and reliable in his work rate and on-ball output, as he pushed to get his team back into the game in that entertaining first half. The determination carried over into the second period, with a real sense of tactical control to his pressing and positioning.
Substituted – 67 mins

Luis Díaz – 6.0
The Colombian had a good rest in the week, yet he struggled to impact in the first half here. Despite the odd crowd-pleasing moment and show of aggression, his play was generally unthreatening in a quiet opening. The former Porto man upped his game in the second half as the Reds ramped up their overall pressure.
Substituted – 67 mins

Cody Gakpo – 5.0
The Dutch forward started ahead of Darwin Núñez, as the Uruguayan has largely struggled for form of late. The nice touches and intelligent-looking moments could not disguise his lack of real contribution, as the Arsenal rearguard managed the Dutch forward well. The second half offered very little else before he was withdrawn.
Substituted – 67 mins

Mohamed Salah – 9.0
The Egyptian King came straight back into the weekend eleven, after a non-starting rest against West Ham. You could see early on that the record-breaking scorer was up for this game, with his intent to torment his marker. The equalizer was sensational and showed every ounce of his brilliance in a very good first half of play. Continued to work and prove through the second period, whilst gifting a near certain goal-scoring opportunity to Trent, only for the vice-captain to hit the bar from close range.

Subs

Joe Gomez – 8.0 (on in the 35th minute)
Came on early to replace the injured Kostas and very much enjoyed the attacking side of the game. On a couple of occasions, the England international threatened to finally score.

Darwin Núñez – 5.0 (on in the 67th minute)
Came on to add something from a wider starting position, as his teammates inevitably tired.

Ryan Gravenberch – 4.0 (on in the 67th minute)
Struggled to impact that game.

Harvey Elliott – 6.0 (on in the 67th minute)
Was very industrious in his play, as expected.

Manager

Jürgen Klopp – 7.0
The German manager went with an anticipated lineup, as more rotation was needed against the first-placed Premier League side. The starting lineup and strategy were scuppered by the early goal conceded, however, the character of his squad saw his men draw level and largely control the closing 20 minutes of that first half. Substitutions came after the 60th minute to re-energize his side, yet the tired legs and lack of conviction were too apparent. Ultimately, this is yet another two points dropped and may be regretted down the road.

Pre-match Prediction:

Liverpool 3 – 2 Arsenal

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