Liverpool ground out a 1-0 win over Brighton on Saturday, with few players reaching their potential but the squad overall impressing.
Liverpool 1-0 Brighton
Premier League, Anfield
August 25, 2018
Goals: Salah 23′
Alisson (out of 10) – 7
Liverpool’s new colossus between the sticks made his second appearance at Anfield and it was another commanding showing.
A solid early save was followed by some quality on the ball – on one second-half occasion he left it rather late to get rid of it – and he was rarely troubled.
Big save at the end to thwart Pascal Gross.
Once again preferred to Nathaniel Clyne, Alexander-Arnold displayed what a maturing footballer he is, combining quality and defensive nous at right-back.
Some of his end product wasn’t as neat as it can be, as has been the case a few times this season, but he was always an outlet.
Hit the crossbar with a first-half free-kick and played one wondrous cross-field pass after the break.
Joe Gomez – 7.5
It has been a strong start to the season for Gomez and he carried on his confident form, cutting an assured figure brimming with class.
His concentrations levels were excellent and he actually outshone Virgil van Dijk, which takes some doing.
At 21, Gomez has such a bright future, but he is feeling increasingly important in the present, too.
Virgil van Dijk – 6.5
Liverpool’s man of the match against Crystal Palace, Van Dijk wasn’t as convincing as he can be at the heart of the defence.
He was always slick in possession and dominant in the air, but he was a little too laid-back on occasions, almost selling Alisson short with a pass.
Far from poor, but can do (much) better.
Andy Robertson – 7.5
Robertson was again a marauding force down the left flank for the Reds, with one superb cross for Roberto Firmino seeing the Brazilian denied.
His endless running after the break was especially key, with his incredible energy levels providing a threat while others struggled.
The Scot has become such a consistent figure that it is now a shock if he performs at less than a seven-out-of-10 level.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7
Wijnaldum continued in the deep-lying No.6 role, following two excellent displays, and he did well for a third match in a row.
He was denied by Mat Ryan after a rare foray into the attacking third, but it was his industry in the middle of the park that stood out most.
James Milner – 8 (Man of the Match)
Milner can’t surely be getting better at the age of 32, can he?
The veteran was exceptional yet again in the middle of the park and it was his harrying of Yves Bissouma that led to Mohamed Salah scoring the only goal.
Every decision was thoughtful, every run had purpose and there was no more influential player on the pitch.
Naby Keita – 7
Liverpool’s new No.8 has slotted into the side seamlessly and showed his class at times.
The Guinean’s ability to run with the ball at pace is a nightmare for opposing midfielders and his ability to make tackles and do the dirty work is also impressive.
You feel he is only going to better, but he faded as the game progressed. Replaced by Henderson.
Mohamed Salah – 6.5
It’s fair to say Salah was below-par against Palace, despite being involved in the key moments, but he was better on Saturday.
His touch and general involvement were much improved and it was his ice-cool, inch-perfect that gave the Reds all three points.
Still not firing on all cylinders, but yet again the match-winner.
Sadio Mane – 6
Mane had been Liverpool’s star man in the first two games of the season but he struggled in comparison on a tense afternoon.
He should have done better with an early chance and his passing and decision-making were off-colour on occasions, be it over-hit or into the path of a Brighton player.
Like the rest of his fellow attackers, there are higher gears to find as the weeks progress.
Roberto Firmino – 6.5
Similar to Salah, Firmino was strangely subdued by his high standards at Selhurst Park but he shone brighter against the Seagulls.
The Brazilian was denied by Ryan with a header, but his creative qualities and unselfish off-the-ball work were most eye-catching.
It wasn’t all positive, though, with too much flamboyance on show a couple of times and his influence waned as the minutes ticked by.
Starting XI Average Rating: 6.9
Jordan Henderson (on for Keita, 66′) – 7 – Kept the ball ticking over nicely and didn’t put a foot wrong.
Daniel Sturridge (on for Mane, 79′) – 6 – A little greedy at times but otherwise solid.
Joel Matip (on for Alexander-Arnold, 89′ – N/A – No time to make an impact.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Lallana, Shaqiri
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Klopp was afforded the luxury of fielding his third unchanged starting lineup in succession.
The manager failed to get the best performance out of his side but the way they saw the game out is testament to his managerial skills.
He has instilled a winning mentality that has seen Liverpool top the Premier League table.
Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not