Liverpool rated – The Reds hit a rocky patch but don’t lose early ground in title race

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By ‘The Don’ – donkopleone

After a sensational start to the new campaign, it would be fair to suggest that Liverpool’s form has dipped a little in recent weeks. While draws with fellow title challengers Chelsea and Manchester City should be considered ‘good enough’ results, they sandwiched a loss away to Napoli in which Jurgen Klopp’s men failed to register a single shot on target.

Nevertheless, 20 points from a possible 24 is no mean feat, and most regular starters are currently averaging over 6.5 – the mark that is considered a standard performance in this system.

Quick reminder on how this rating system works:

The formulae are adapted so that if a player plays the last thirty minutes of a match, his average rating is affected by one third of what it would be if he had played the full ninety.

The advantage to this is that efficient, but unnotable cameos will not skew results, the disadvantage is that it nullifies the importance of substitutes who come on the pitch to change a game (*cough* Daniel Sturridge at Stamford Bridge *cough*). It is not perfect, but the best possible system, I believe.

That should do it for the formalities, let’s get onto the rankings:

1. Virgil van Dijk (CB)
Average rating- 7.77 (↑0.27)
Best performance- 8.5 [PSG (H), CHE (A)]
Worst performance- 7 [BHA (H), LEI (A)]

It is now widely accepted that Virgil van Dijk is the best central defender in the Premier League, and some would argue the world. In fact, van Dijk would be the only realistic challenger to Eden Hazard if a Player of the Year trophy were to be awarded at the quarter stage of the domestic season.

His best performance was probably away to Chelsea when he could do nothing about Hazard’s early goal, but dominated Olivier Giroud aerially and slid in magnificently when Willian looked to be clear.

2. Joe Gomez (CB)

Average rating- 7.73 (↓0.15)
Best performance- 8.5 [LEI (A), PSG (H)]
Worst performance- 7 [MCI (H)]

Leading van Dijk at the top of the table until this weekend, Joe Gomez slipped a place after Jurgen Klopp deployed him in the less natural right-back position on Sunday. Although the 7 he received was his lowest rating of the season, it still indicates a good performance.

Gomez’s form has been instrumental in Liverpool’s impressive early season defensive solidity and he has the base traits to reach the very top as a central defender.

3. Andrew Robertson (LB)
Average rating- 7.10 (↓0.03)
Best performance- 9 [PSG (H)]
Worst performance- 6 [CHE (A), NAP (A)]

There is a considerable drop here from where Liverpool’s centre halves lead this group, but Andrew Robertson in third has carried his excellent form from the last campaign into this new one.

His performance at home to PSG is the highest rated individual display across ninety minutes amongst the whole squad, and he delivered a superb cross to set up Liverpool’s opener that day. A minor complaint is that both Willian and Riyad Mahrez have given the Scot a tough time recently, but none of his errors led directly to goals, so this is not too big a concern.

4. Gini Wijnaldum (CM)

Average rating- 7.09 (↓0.16)
Best performance- 8 [BHA (H), PSG (H)]
Worst performance- 5 [NAP (A)]

It now seems a very long time ago that Liverpool’s Dutch midfielder was reportedly free to leave for a move to Turkey if he wanted to. That suggestion- seen in the media just this summer- would now be ridiculed, and rightly so: Wijnaldum has been the Reds’ best central midfielder this season.

Turning in big performances in the big games against Spurs, PSG and Manchester City, Gini is gaining a reputation as a big match player. Even once Naby Keita and Fabinho find their feet, you doubt that Jurgen Klopp would entertain the idea of leaving Gini out of his starting line-up against any of the top sides.

5. James Milner (CM)
Average rating- 6.90 (↓0.28)
Best performance- 8.5 [PSG (H)]
Worst performance- 5 [NAP (A)]

After an incredible start to the season, with Steven Gerrard even suggesting that he would be the first name on Jurgen Klopp’s teamsheet, James Milner’s form has fallen away in recent weeks.

Average displays against Chelsea twice in four days were followed up by a poor display in Napoli, and ‘Milly’ looked sloppy against Manchester City before a hamstring injury forced him off.

That said, Milner’s high position in these rankings reflects his early brilliance, and his day of creative mastery against West Ham as well as a tireless display at home to PSG were particularly impressive outings.

6. Alisson (GK)
Average rating- 6.85 (↑0.47)
Best performance- 8 [CHE (A), NAP (A)]
Worst performance- 5 [LEI (A)]

Alisson has been almost perfect since his blunder away to Leicester, and is the most significant riser in the Reds’ squad. He made crucial saves to keep us in the game away to Chelsea – which led to a valuable point – and single-handedly (well, double-handedly) almost salvaged us a point from a dismal display in Naples.

The Brazilian’s stock is very much on the rise.

7. Xherdan Shaqiri (RW)

Average rating- 6.87 (↑0.07)
Best performance- 7.5 [SOU (H)]
Worst performance- 6 [PSG (H), CHE (A)]

Xherdan Shaqiri has quickly established himself as a cult hero amongst Liverpool fans and is due an increased role in the first team following the international break. Setting up a Mo Salah goal with a free-kick that crashed into the bar at home to Southampton was a glimpse of the quality the little Swiss has to offer.

In both of his “worst” outings, Shaqiri helped contribute to key, late goals. A weapon that Liverpool lacked last year.

8. Trent Alexander-Arnold, RB
Average rating – 6.67 (↓0.21)
Best performance- 8 [SOU (H)]
Worst performance- 5 [NAP (A)]

Being dropped on his 20th birthday for the key clash against Manchester City seemed harsh on Trent Alexander-Arnold: he had delivered a very poor display away to Napoli but was not alone in doing so. Yet there are suggestions that the young man needed a rest, and, if so, Jurgen Klopp may have been right to exercise caution.

This term Trent has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Boy award, as well, so although he ranks the lowest amongst Liverpool’s impressive back-line, the local lad will be very content with his start to the season.

9. Naby Keita (CM)
Average rating- 6.64 (↓0.43)
Best performance- 8 [WHU (H)]
Worst performance- 5 [NAP (A)]

There is no denying that Naby Keita’s recent form has been a cause for concern. Having looked a world-beater in his first few games for Liverpool, the Guinean midfielder has dropped off significantly, and is perhaps fortunate with regards to his average rating that a bewilderingly bad start away to Napoli was halted by a back injury.

Now back fit, and with James Milner on the sidelines, Naby needs to rediscover the spark that he only briefly exhibited.

10. Daniel Sturridge (ST)

Average rating- 6.60 (↑0.10)
Best performance- 9 [CHE (A)]
Worst performance- 5.5 [BHA (H)]

People will feel that Daniel Sturridge is unfairly low in these rankings, and it is hard to disagree- four goals from just two starts is an incredible return. But the way this system works is that the games in which you get more minutes affect your average rating more significantly.

So despite scoring against PSG in the Champions League and against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, the fact that he started both, missed some very good chances and his all round play was only average, brings his rating down more than the screamer at Stamford Bridge can push him up. What a goal that was, though.

11. Mohamed Salah (RW)
Average rating- 6.54 (↓0.50)
Best performance- 7.5 [WHU (H), BHA (H), SOU (H)]
Worst performance- 4.5 [NAP (A)]

For a long time I was willing to argue that Mo Salah’s all round play this season was not significantly worse than it was last campaign, he was merely dropping deeper and perhaps working more for the team.

That was until we went away to Napoli and Salah delivered not just his worst performance in a Liverpool shirt, but the joint-lowest rated display of any player in the squad this season, (his only company in the ‘4.5 club’ is none other than Alberto Moreno).

Even when performing well – as he did at home to Manchester City – Salah looks like he’s lost that incredible composure when in on goal, which allowed him to break the Premier League goalscoring record last season.

12. Sadio Mané (LW)

Average rating- 6.53 (↓0.61)
Best performance- 8 [WHU (H)]
Worst performance- 5 [NAP (A)]

An alarming drop off from Mané since the last international break has seen him fail to add to the four goals which propelled him to the top of the early domestic goalscoring charts.

Abuse from Egyptian fans after the Senegalese failed to set up Mo Salah against Spurs at Wembley was quite frankly ludicrous, but the suggestion that he has been holding onto the ball too long in recent weeks is not. Step it up, Sadio.

=13. Fabinho (DM)
Average rating- 6.50 (N/A)
Best performance- N/A
Worst performance- N/A

With both his displays in a red shirt marked as a fairly standard 6.5, it is hard to judge Fabinho so far. Without setting the world alight, he looked solid enough in his first start against Chelsea in the Carabao cup, and displayed a good range of passing. He was slightly overrun in the first-45 of that tie, however.

=13. Dejan Lovren (CB)
Average rating- 6.50 (N/A)
Best performance- 7 [MCI (H)]
Worst performance- 6 [CHE (H)]

‘Degsy’ came into the starting line-up for the recent clash with Manchester City, and performed admirably with one extraordinary slide tackle on Gabriel Jésus standing out as a personal highlight.

Nevertheless, the Croat replacing number-one rated Virgil van Dijk for the Carabao Cup tie with Chelsea was probably the key reason for Liverpool’s exit from said competition, although comparing anyone with Virgil seems a tad harsh…

=13. Joel Matip (CB)
Average rating- 6.50 (N/A)
Best performance- N/A
Worst performance- N/A

Despite his goal against Southampton, (his first at Anfield, I believe,) I only awarded Joel Matip a 6.5 for that display, as he had a couple of near-suicidal efforts to play out from the back during that fixture.

The big German seems to only be fourth in the pecking order of Liverpool’s centre halves, now that Joe Gomez is showing elite signs and Dejan Lovren has returned from injury.

16. Jordan Henderson (CM)

Average rating- 6.46 (↑0.11)
Best performance- 8 [PSG (H)]
Worst performance- 5 [CHE (H, A), NAP (A)]

Dividing the fanbase with extraordinary ease, the only thing certain about Jordan Henderson’s performances this season has been their inconsistency. In two big games – at home to PSG and Manchester City – Henderson has delivered big time, even if he tailed off in the second half against Pep Guardiola’s men.

But between those games lies a horror show at Stamford Bridge, and, in all honesty, Liverpool never looked like scoring an equaliser until their captain was subbed off. How long can he keep the armband if Virgil van Dijk maintains his form?

17. Roberto Firmino (CF)
Average rating- 6.41 (↓0.28)
Best performance- 8 [TOT (A), PSG (H)]
Worst performance- 5 [NAP (A)]

For a brief spell, it looked like ‘Bobby Firmino, King of Men’ had returned to service. A run of form which scored him 7-8-8-7 in games against Leicester, Tottenham, PSG and Southampton was enough to whet the Kop’s appetite, but since then Bobby has gone AWOL once again.

In fact, following that run, Bobby has failed to register even a mediocre 6 . Come back Bobby, we still love you x.

=18. Nathaniel Clyne (RB)
Average rating- 6.00 (N/A)
Best performance- N/A
Worst performance- N/A

When rumours started to circulate that Trent Alexander-Arnold would not start against Manchester City, some people on Twitter suggested that Nathaniel Clyne should slot into the team at right-back. This was foolish.

Clyne could not beat a man and deliver a good ball to save his life, which nullifies Liverpool’s offensive system as it relies on attacking width being provided by full backs. The fact that a 21-year-old central defender was considered better suited to this role than Clyne speaks volumes. I was surprised he stayed at the club this summer.

=18. Simon Mignolet (GK)
Average rating- 6.00 (N/A)
Best performance- N/A
Worst performance- N/A

I need to get this article out as soon as possible and to be honest there is nothing I can write about Simon Mignolet that you don’t know already. Well, except the fact that he speaks like four languages or something. Impressive.

20. Alberto Moreno (LB)
Average rating- 4.5 (N/A)
Best performance- (N/A)
Worst performance- (N/A)

Watching him against Chelsea in the League Cup made me question how Alberto Moreno made it as a professional footballer, let alone at clubs as reputable as Sevilla and Liverpool.

A shocking defender and – despite what you may hear – he is not much better going forward. Somehow, he’s apparently a target for Barcelona? Ha!

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