By ‘The Don’ – @donkopleone
As some of you may have followed, I rated every single Liverpool player across every single game of the 2018-19 season, until I had a beautiful database with a f**k load of numbers from 4.5 to 9.5.
This spreadsheet was/is my baby.
Anyway, if you weren’t already aware my match ratings were decided using this scale:
Obviously a player cannot put in 9s every game so, although Sadio Mané had an *outstanding* season, his average rating was near enough a 7, because it is impossible to have the consistency to average a 9 over the course of a season.
Only just posting sufficient minutes to be on this list, Moreno was woeful as Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup by an Eden Hazard-inspired Chelsea side. His other performances were fairly forgettable, although less disastrous.
Sturridge’s low average rating is a reflection of the fact that the England international enjoyed more success when coming off the bench last season, and due to the nature of this rating system, a cameo bears less significance on a player’s average rating than a full ninety does. Many felt Sturridge was back to his best after a few brilliant substitute appearances, but as a starter, especially away in Belgrade (where he received a horrific 4.5) ‘Studge’ tended to underwhelm.
For the first time in this article I’ve included a graphic showing Lallana’s ratings across the season, which mostly highlights how often he was unavailable. While I have been under the impression that Lallana had a very poor season, the graph does show improvement after a very poor start as well as his general absence. Still no goal contributions, though.
17. James Milner
Average rating: 6.53
Best performance: 8.5 (PSG H, BAR H)
Worst performance: 5 (NAP A, RSB A, TOT H)
This perhaps seems harsh on James Milner – some big performances in big games, a key role in the miracle of Anfield, his season will be remembered fondly. However, a very apparent drop in form saw him fall heavily from a top five ranking when the first of these reports was published. Not that he’ll care. He’s a Champions League winner, and I thought he did well when he came on in the final, too.
16. Dejan Lovren
Average rating: 6.61
Best performance: 7.5 (MUN H, WOL A, NEW H, ARS H)
Worst performance: 5.5 (PSG A, MCI A, NEW A)
Lovren had a great run of form with four successive 7.5 (“impressive”) performances in December, although these led up to his “poor” 5.5 in the crucial loss at the Etihad. However, Lovren was given a load of stick for that display, when I think, even if the Croat made a minor mistake, Sergio Aguero’s lethal brilliance was the far more important factor in City’s opening goal. Suffered with injury after that.
15. Joel Matip
Average rating: 6.81
Best performance: 8.5 (BAR H)
Worst performance: 5 (RSB A)
This might seem harsh on Joel Matip, who came into great form in the knockout stages of Liverpool’s Champions League run. However, his sporadic early-season appearances were underwhelming and it was only during the last few months of the season that he was delivering consistently dominant displays- with an 8.5 in the Miracle of Anfield followed up by an 8 in Madrid.
14. Gini Wijnaldum
Average rating: 6.82
Best performance: 9 (BAR H)
Worst performance: 5 (NAP A, SOU A, BAR A)
Like James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum fell off steep in the second half of the season. At Christmas time, Wijnaldum was in the top five of these ratings, averaging over 7.1. But in 2019, he produced many performances where he was almost anonymous, rather than at the centre of things, as we know he can be. Nevertheless, he obviously came off the bench to be a semi-final hero, even if he did offer precious little come Madrid.
13. Trent Alexander-Arnold
Average rating: 6.84
Best performance: 9 (WAT H, BAR H)
Worst performance: 5 (NAP A)
During the season I had a few debates with fellow Liverpool fans, where I suggested that Trent had not progressed as much as I had hoped he would following his breakout campaign. His performances were littered with inconsistency, possibly more than anyone else in the squad, bar Roberto Firmino.
If you look beneath the 6 line on the graphic, Trent gave poor displays far more often than many other regular starters. However the flipside is the run of consistent 7+ performances during that final period of the season, where Trent seemed to find an assist in most games. I would still argue that he had comfortably the worst season of any of the back five who played the first few months of 2018/19, though.
12. Jordan Henderson
Average rating: 6.88
Best performance: 8.5 (SOU A, BAR H)
Worst performance: 5 (CHE A, NAP A)
I felt quite smug when Jurgen Klopp admitted that Jordan Henderson is not a natural ‘6’ and had merely been filling in there. Ever-divisive, as Steven Gerrard’s successor was always bound to be, I had had many a Twitter discussion where I had criticised Henderson in that role, referring to how good a player he can be when racing from box to box.
And it was returning to that role that saw Henderson’s dramatic upturn in form at the end of the season, initiated by a brilliant substitute performance in a 3-1 win at St. Mary’s. It should also be noted that the Reds’ captain ranked in my top five when based on Champions League performances only, with a 7.31 average in the competition.
11. Naby Keita
Average rating: 6.90
Best performance: 8 (WHU H, BUR A, POR H)
Worst performance: 5.5 (MCI H)
Even if Naby Keita perhaps didn’t hit the heights some hoped for during his debut Anfield season, it would be harsh to suggest that he was a disappointment. A few displays- including the season opener against West Ham- showcased his immense quality, but a series of injuries prevented him from ever really finding a consistent run of form. That said, he was in his best patch of the season before a season-ending injury at Camp Nou.
10. Roberto Firmino
Average rating: 6.92
Best performance: 9 (ARS H)
Worst performance: 5 (NAP A, WHU A, TOT N)
It is perhaps surprising to see Roberto Firmino this high. There is no doubt that his performance level seriously dropped off from the 17/18 campaign, when he could have been Liverpool’s player of the season, if it weren’t for Mohamed Salah’s insane goalscoring.
But Firmino’s rating is propped up by a great run of form over December, when he went eight straight matches without dipping below a 7.0. The rest of the Brazilian’s season was plagued with inconsistency, though.
9. Mohamed Salah
Average rating: 6.95
Best performance: 9 (BOU A)
Worst performance: 4.5 (NAP A)
Having retained his Premier League golden boot trophy, it is fair to say that Mo has been harshly treated with his overall rating. However, as the Liverpool player most likely to continue to try and shoot from anywhere, or beat five men, even when it is very clearly not his day, Salah is affected by an abnormally high number of very low (<5.5) ratings.
No more so than in the loss away to Napoli, when he received the lowest rating given to any player this season. Looking at his graph it is also noteworthy that Salah played in almost every game across the campaign, which is a testament to his fitness levels.
8. Divock Origi
Average rating: 6.97
Best performance: 9 (BAR H)
Worst performance: 5.5 (POR A)
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool’s latest cult hero cracks the top ten, with his 9 at home to Barcelona his standout rating. Origi had no rating to his name prior to November, but come the end of the season the Champions League winner played a part in all of Liverpool’s last five games, and scored some famous goals in the process.
7. Alisson Becker
Average rating: 7.01
Best performance: 9 (BAR H, TOT N)
Worst performance: 5 (LEI A, FUL A, TOT H)
Alisson Becker posted two 9-rated performances in his debut season at Anfield, and those came in the Champions League semi-final second leg and the Champions League final itself.
This is the ‘keeper Liverpool now have: someone who can be trusted to make the biggest saves at the biggest moments. Virgil van Dijk won the Man of the Match award in Madrid, but Alisson deserved that honour alongside his winners’ medal and Premier League golden glove trophy.
6. Xherdan Shaqiri
Average rating: 7.02
Best performance: 9 (MUN H)
Worst performance: 5.5 (CHE A)
It may be a surprise to see Xherdan Shaqiri this high on the list, but the Swiss actually had a phenomenal debut season, at least according to my ratings. In only one game that he started did he not record a 6.5 or better.
Although Xherdan also provided some great cameos from the bench, notably when scoring a match-winning brace against Manchester United. His lack of late-season minutes was less due to him disappointing on pitch, and more due to Klopp’s general uncomfortability with playing a more open 4-2-3-1 during the league and continental run-in.
5. Andrew Robertson
Average rating: 7.02
Best performance: 9 (PSG H)
Worst performance: 5.5 (MUN A)
Considering Andrew Robertson played the best part of 50 games for Liverpool in the 2018/19 season, the fact that he recorded just one 5.5 (poor) performance across the campaign is a testament to the Scot’s incredible consistency. Few would argue against his standing as the best left-back in the world right now.
4. Sadio Mané
Average rating: 7.08
Best performance: 8.5 (WAT H, BUR H, BAY A, CHE H, HUD H, BAR H)
Worst performance: 5 (NAP A)
Firstly, I do not understand how I chose not to give Sadio a 9 following his brace in Munich, but apparently that is what I thought at the time. Weird. This was the year that the Senegalese broke into the ‘world class’ bracket, and he has arguably even chucked his name into the Ballon d’Or debate that will inevitably arrive this winter. His graph shows how incredible his 2019 form was.
Average rating: 7.25
Best performance: 9.5 (BAR H), also posted a 9 vs (MUN H)
Worst performance: 5 (ARS A)
When Fabinho posted a 5 (very poor) in his first Premier League start away at Arsenal, few would have predicted him reaching the podium in DonKopleone’s End of Season Ratings Recap. Nor do I think that there are many who are aware that this is a thing I do, *sighs*. However, Fabinho’s performance at home to Manchester United in December was the best performance posted by any Liverpool central midfielder, until the Brazilian bettered himself at home to Barcelona, when he posted the only 9.5 I awarded this season. The £40million man is now Liverpool’s most important midfielder and genuinely in the discussion for best defensive midfielder in the world.
2. Joe Gomez
Average rating: 7.33
Best performance: 8.5 (LEI A, PSG H)
Worst performance: 5.5 (BAR A)
Until early November there was real competition at the top of my ratings table between Joe Gomez and the ultimate winner of this title (who will not be named to maintain a very small amount of suspense). Shortly before his horrible leg break at Burnley, the 22-year-old’s form had slightly dipped, but he was still comfortably on track to be in the PFA Team of the Season.
I honestly think some Liverpool fans don’t appreciate just how good a player we have in Joemez – they know he’s a great young player, but there is far less excitement than with Trent, say. Centre-halves are very, very rarely this good at his age. He just needs a sustained period without any injuries for everyone to realise it.
1. Virgil van Dijk
Average rating: 7.57
Best performance: 9 (WAT H, TOT H)
Worst performance: 5.5 (FUL A)
Surprise! Bet you never saw this coming! Virgil van Dijk, PFA Player of the Season, also now holds claim to the esteemed title of Don Kopleone’s LFC Player of the Season.
There’s nothing I could say about him which hasn’t already been said, which is amusingly also something that everyone has now said. So I leave you with a graph, detailing his unworldly consistency. There are exactly five of fifty ratings in which van Dijk dipped below a 7. Unbelievable.