Mohamed Salah created and scored Liverpool’s only goal as the Reds ensured Steven Gerrard and his Aston Villa side tasted defeat at Anfield.
A determined Aston Villa display frustrated Liverpool at every turn in the first half. What little Liverpool did create, the imposing figure of Emiliano Martinez was on hand to repel.
The Argentine could do little when the breakthrough finally came, however, when Mohamed Salah converted a penalty he himself won with an emphatic finish in off the post.
The Egyptian’s goal once again proved decisive for Liverpool and he duly earned an eight in our ratings. Though that figure was in stark contrast to Alisson Becker who endured one of his worst displays in a Liverpool shirt to date.
Alisson Becker: First action came in the 30th minute and almost proved an embarrassing one. Slipped when attempting to gather a lofted through ball but was bailed out by the covering Matip. Another nervy moment when catching Ings after swiping at the ball inside the area. Looked a penalty on first view but replays showed his contact was minimal, much to his relief. A rare off day for the Brazilian. 4/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Starved of opportunity to create havoc in the first half with the majority of Liverpool’s play coming down the left. A greater influence after the break and probed with his customary deadly delivery. 7
Joel Matip: Bailed his goalkeeper out when Alisson stumbled and fumbled his way out when attempting to gather a hopeful through ball. Faultless in his more customary defensive duties elsewhere. 7
Virgil van Dijk: Beaten by Watkins in their first duel and booked for kicking the ball away in frustration. Came close to finding the breakthrough from a corner but his fierce header was too central. Clever distribution throughout kept the tempo high and ensured Villa could never rest when the ball was at his feet. Several vital inteventions in the closing stages as Villa went in search of an equaliser. 7
Van Dijk's passing today has been outrageous. Spraying the ball around for fun.
— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) December 11, 2021
Andrew Robertson: Bombed forward at will and was Liverpool’s likeliest route towards a breakthrough in the first half hour. Continued to influence proceedings, but found himself pushed back as Villa upped their game after falling behind. 8
Jordan Henderson: Typically vibrant and energetic in midfield to help Liverpool establish early dominance in the engine room. Led by example as all good captains should and helped see out Villa’s late threat. 8
Fabinho: Calm in possession and did his customary duties shielding his back four. Came into his own in the closing stages when Villa threatened. 7
Thiago Alcantara: A few lax moments early but always sought to break the lines with his passing range. A generally quiet afternoon for the Spaniard. 6
Mohamed Salah: Very low-key first half. A combination of Liverpool favouring the left flank and the close attentions of Luiz and Targett frustrated the Egyptian and left him feeding off scraps.
Put Liverpool on his back after the break when first winning then scoring a penalty in emphatic fashion. Spurned a glorious opportunity when on the end of a 3v1 on the break. Nonetheless, it was once his his goal that helped Liverpool secure three more vital points. 8
⚽️Mohamed Salah has now scored or assisted in his last 14 PL apps – Burnley are the only team he has not had a direct goal involvement against in Liverpool's 16 PL games this season pic.twitter.com/9lydquBRFr
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 11, 2021
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Chosen to spearhead the attack with Jota only fit enough for the bench. Struggled to make an impact in the role he was briefly deployed in in pre-season. Liverpool livening up when he was replaced by Jota would suggest this experiment won’t soon be repeated. 5
Sadio Mane: Saw an appeal for an early penalty waved away after going to ground when grabbed by Cash. Had greater joy against Cash than Salah did against Targett during the first half. Never afraid to try his luck from various angles when Villa closed off the passing lanes. 7
Diogo Jota (On for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 58m): Lively cameo and Liverpool looked an altogether more potent force with him in the line-up. 6
James Milner (On for Thiago, 83m): N/A
Takumi Minamino (On for Mane, 88m): N/A
Emiliano Martinez: Fine low stop to palm a deflected Robertson header to safety. Another smart save to deny Salah when the Egyptian finally found joy as half-time neared. 8/10
Matty Cash: Took a risk when grabbing Mane inside the area, though Liverpool’s penalty appeals were waved away. Stood up tall to Mane and ensured the Senegalese was limited to ambitious strikes from wide. 7
Ezri Konsa: Always alert and worked well in tandem with Mings to limit Liverpool in the first half. Unfortunate to emerge on the losing side. 7
Tyrone Mings: Did most things well but threatened to throw it all away as half-time neared. Allowed Salah to cut inside onto his left foot too easily, though Martinez was on hand to preserve parity. Three fine interventions in quick succession after the break when Salah and then Mane threatened.
Conceded a penalty when found in the one position he hoped to avoid – one-v-one with Salah. 6
Aston Villa striker Wesley likely on the move in January.
Aston Villa striker Wesley, currently on loan at Club Brugge, will likely be on the move once again in January, given his lack of game time.
Matt Targett: Superb early block to deny an Alexander-Arnold piledriver. Did about as well as any left-backs have done against Salah in the first half. Continued to frustrate the Egyptian after the break but Salah found greater joy against Mings when winning e penalty. 8
John McGinn: Full-throttle display from the Scotsman. Never shy of putting his foot in and more than willing to track Liverpool’s runners down the left. 7
Marvelous Nakamba: Booked when felling Henderson after trying to beat one too many inside his own half. Replaced after 56m when Liverpool threatened to build up a head of steam. 6
Douglas Luiz: A constant thorn in Liverpool’s side as Villa’s midfield kept Liverpool surprisingly quiet at Anfield. Found it tougher in the second half when the hosts raised their game. 7
Jacob Ramsey: Tasked with dropping into a midfield five when out of possession to ensure Liverpool’s full-backs weren’t given free reign. Got through a mountain of work and showed maturity beyond his years with his alertness to runs and decision-making in his own third. 7
Ashley Young: Full of running despite his age and did as much of it in his own half as Liverpool’s. Almost benefitted from Alisson’s slip but could only find Matip with his cut-back. Replaced with 20m remaining after a faultless display. 7
Ollie Watkins: Got the better of Van Dijk in their first duel but blotted his copybook with a yellow for a needless lunge on Fabinho. Will have hoped for one opportunity to test Alisson but a clear sight of goal never came. 6
Morgan Sanson (On for Nakamba, 57m): 6
Emiliano Buendia (On for Young, 69m): 6
Danny Ings (On for Ramsey, 74m): N/A