What can you say about this Liverpool team? “Mentality monsters,” is the term that has been thrown about, and today Jürgen Klopp’s side lived true to that name.
A goal down at Villa Park with 86 minutes on the clock, some would have said that this was a huge point for the Reds when Andrew Robertson thumped a header home to level the scoring. But when battling a freakish Manchester City side for the title a draw is essentially a loss, in old money.
Enter Sadio Mané — a fairly small man for the very big occasion. Having found Robertson for said equaliser, the Senegalese flicked a sensational header home to grab three precious points for the away side.
Liverpool’s biggest win of the season to date? Probably. Six point lead at the top of the Premier League? Maintained. Don Kopleone with the ratings? Of course…
Ali 7 — Did very well to close down the space when Villa went through on goal at 1-0.
Trent 7.5 — Consistently excellent delivery throughout, including the assist for the winner. Late free-kick was going in before a deflection took it over the bar. Couple of dodgy moments defensively, though.
Degsy 6.5 — Often a scapegoat when things are going badly, but the Croat did nothing wrong today… and then — in the end — things did not go wrong. They went very right. What a win, well in Degsy la!
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Big Virg 6.5 — A couple of uncharacteristically uncomfortable moments first half were evened out by a sweeping 60-yard pass into Mo Salah’s path. As always, a threat from offensive set-pieces.
Robbo 7.5 — Most important goal of his Liverpool career. Had been unlucky that a few crosses were never converted, earlier on.
Hendo 6.5 — Horrible pass when a Villa mistake sent him through three-on-two. Ended the game with a good intensity in recovering possession, though.
La La Land 6.5 — Poor in the first half, much better in the second, until he was taken off. Should have scored from Firmino’s pull-back.
Gini 5.5 — Not good enough. Far too little involvement, and Klopp’s side looked much more positive once Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced the Dutch midfielder.
Mo 5.5 — Wasteful when given decent opportunities. While it would be harsh to say Salah should have scored today, he would have put away one of his opportunities two seasons ago.
Bobby 6 — Failed to dictate the game in the way we know he can. Should have had an assist when Lallana skewed wide, though.
Sadio 8.5 — At half time I said that Sadio had been our only threat. At the death, when his team needed a hero, the Senegalese sent in a sensational cross on his weaker foot, before nestling a brilliant flick header to win the game. Man of the match. I think — hold on a second — Sadio Mané could win the Ballon d’Or.
Divvy 6.5 — Did brilliantly to win a free-kick in the corner to finish the game.
The Ox 7 — Drives from midfield with purpose, which brings a positive influence to this Liverpool side. Should start against Man City next week.
Naby N/A — It was 1-0 when he came on…