Manager, Goalkeeper and Defenders
Ralph Hasenhuttl, Manager – 8
Stephens could have been a pregame question mark at left-back, but he probably quieted a lot of fans today. Stuart Armstrong is so fun to watch in the middle of the field, but it is hard to argue that he isn’t needed elsewhere. Some credit is due for the early changes, although Ibrahima Diallo at wing was a bit surprising. It was clear Theo Walcott did not have it today. Ralph agreed and the team looked to have a considerable boost when the changes were made. Will be disappointed in his team to not get a goal, but can’t be for their overall performance.
Fraser Forster, Goalkeeper – 6
Hasenhuttl said Forster would be splitting games with McCarthy for the rest of the way. Some solid, but expected saves early, but got away with a moment of indecision in possession. You wonder if he could have claimed the opener before it met Mane’s head? The second goal was a little frustrating because Thiago really had nowhere else to go and Forster just never got down.
Jack Stephens, Left-Back – 8
Started really well in the first 10 minutes, calm in possession, and wriggled out of significant pressure from Mo Salah. Was beaten badly by the Egyptian with a ball over the top in the 35th. Other than that moment, he was very solid and came up with a big block late in the match to keep it 0-1. What made the block so impressive is how far he came from the left side in recognition of danger. The big criticism is he is unable to venture forward, making us an even more predictable attack.
Jannik Vestergaard, Centre-Back – 8
Cut out a number of incisive Liverpool passes in the first half. Was hell bent on delivering KWP the perfect pass, but never got it there. Dribbled his way forward providing the team relief from pressure and stayed fairly organized in the back defensively.
Jan Bednarek, Centre-Back – 7
So much breaks down when he steps to make an interception. Bednarek takes this risk a bit too much, in fairness he guesses right often, but the ones he gets wrong create a clear chance for the opposition. His defense otherwise was focused today and he had very few turn overs in possession due to low-risk passing. Needs to cushion the ball down out of the air once in a while as his heading rarely seems to find teammates.
Kyle Walker-Peters, Right-Back – 6
Handled Mane’s first half matchup really well other than being out-leapt at the back post. KWP got his body in the way, but the strength of Mane was too much. Was strong considering Liverpool targeted him in possession. KWP was triple-teamed often today and was forced into far more turnovers than usual. Hopefully he will be OK after taking a hit on his knee late in the match. His importance to the team is somehow still understated. There was a reason the team struggled mightily when he was out, and Ralph better figure out how to adjust to an opposing game plan to shut him down.