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Winners & Losers

Liverpool winners, losers and ratings as Alexander-Arnold shows his genius and Nunez takes a big step forward

10:30 PM WAT 04/10/2022
Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool 2022-23
Jurgen Klopp went for an attacking line-up against Rangers and was rewarded as his big guns made a welcome return to form

The Anfield spotlight shone on Trent Alexander-Arnold once more on Tuesday night, but this time for all the right reasons.

If the Liverpool defender has been feeling the heat recently, it didn’t show as his sublime 25-yard free-kick set the Reds on their way to a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Rangers in the Champions League.

Alexander-Arnold’s seventh-minute missile gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a lead they would extend in the second half through Mohamed Salah’s penalty, on a night which Klopp will hope can help build some confidence in his side following their stuttering start to the season.

Liverpool, who recorded only their fourth win - and their third clean sheet - in 10 games now know that a win at Ibrox in the return fixture next week would put them in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages.

And though Rangers will be expected to put in a better showing on home soil, on this evidence, Klopp’s men should be backed to get the job done in Scotland.

  • Darwin Nunez Liverpool 2022-23

    The Winners

    Trent Alexander-Arnold:

    Talk about the perfect response to all the recent discussion. After a weekend which showcased his weaknesses, here was a display of Alexander-Arnold's many, many strengths. His importance to Liverpool can never be understated, and he needed only seven minutes to underline it, bending a quite sublime 25-yard free-kick into Allan McGregor's top right-hand corner to give the Reds a lead they would never look like surrendering. That's Alexander-Arnold, not perfect but damn good. There he was, breaking the lines with the crispest of passes, creating danger with his crosses and set-pieces, all the while keeping an eye on the back door. Ryan Kent, once a colleague and probably Rangers' best player, barely got a sniff. He finished having had more touches than anyone else on the field, having completed more passes, made more crosses and won more than 70 per cent of his duels. Classic Trent, you might say. He may be flawed, but he's still a genius. But then you knew that anyway, right?

    Darwin Nunez:

    Ah, so this is what Liverpool paid all that money for. We've seen this fella shine at Anfield in the Champions League before, and he was at it again here with an all-action performance that earned him a deserved standing ovation from the home supporters. At times in the first half it was Nunez vs McGregor, the Rangers goalkeeper denying him on four occasions inside the penalty area. There was, however, encouragement to be found in the manner of the chances, all arising from good movement and positioning, Nunez reading the play and on the same wavelength as his team-mates, be it Henderson, Diaz, Salah or Jota. At the same time, the Uruguayan's work-rate ensured the crowd stuck firmly behind him. Time and again, he ran the channel, harried defenders and looked to take the positive option, on and off the ball. Stuff like that endears you to supporters, and it was no surprise to hear the Kop chant his name on several occasions. After a tough few weeks, this was a substantial step forward for the £64m man. All it needed was a goal. Damn you, Allan McGregor.

    Liverpool's pressing game:

    Where has this Liverpool been all season?! Having spoken of the need for defensive solidity, Jurgen Klopp threw a curveball with his team selection, opting for attack and reaping rich rewards. There were four forwards in his starting XI, with Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz all drafted in. Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara were tasked with locking down midfield, doing as a two what Liverpool have so far this season been unable to do with a three. It worked. Rangers may be limited opposition, but this looked so much better from Klopp's side. From the word go, there was energy, there was aggression and there was threat. Pressing too. Lots of it. Nunez led from the front, Jota, Diaz and Salah backed up behind, and Henderson and Thiago were superb in keeping the Reds on the front foot. Just like the old days, you could say.

  • Alfredo Morelos Rangers 2022-23

    The Losers

    Alfredo Morelos:

    He may have more than 100 goals for Rangers, and cult-hero status among the Ibrox faithful, but the Colombian never got a sniff here. Morelos was, to say the least, kept quiet by Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, the striker a picture of resigned frustration as he lost duel after duel with the Liverpool centre-backs. Even his usual snarl and theatrics were absent. He finished with a frown, mind, replaced 18 minutes from time, having failed to have a single shot at goal, or a single touch in the Reds box. A lesson, in terms of levels.

    UEFA:

    If European football's governing body didn't know how deep the scars of Paris run for Liverpool supporters, they do now. There were boos at Anfield as the Champions League anthem was played to prior to kick off, and no wonder. Reds fans won't forget the way they were treated at the final back in May, and they certainly won't forget the lies, obfuscation and mistruths which followed, as the authorities, in grimly predictable fashion, attempted to cover their backs and shift the blame. It is to UEFA's eternal shame that that happened, and that fans were ever made to feel unsafe at a football match in the first place. It cannot happen again, and if a few bigwigs were made to feel uncomfortable by the sound of Liverpool fans' protests here, then good.

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool Rangers 2022-23

    Liverpool Ratings: Defence

    Alisson Becker (6/10):

    Precious little to do but what he did, he did well.

    Trent Alexander-Arnold (8/10):

    Needed only seven minutes to make his mark, and in some style too. A wonderful free-kick to open the scoring, and a performance of quality, concentration and confidence thereafter.

    Kostas Tsimikas (7/10):

    Brought energy if not always quality. Great clearance late on to preserve the clean sheet.

    Joel Matip (7/10):

    In control of the counter-attacking threat and played some nice passes into the midfield and forwards.

    Virgil van Dijk (7/10):

    Dominated Morelos comprehensively and won duel after duel. Passed it well.

  • Thiago Alcantara Liverpool 2022-23

    Midfield

    Jordan Henderson (7/10):

    Controlled performance from the captain. Created one chance for Nunez with a beautiful clipped pass. Got a great ovation when substituted, and deserved it.

    Thiago Alcantara (7/10):

    The odd sloppy moment, but far outweighed by the good bits. Composure off the scale, physicality and a brilliant second-ball game enabled his side to dominate.

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2022-23

    Attack

    Mohamed Salah (8/10):

    Was on it from minute one. Had Barisic terrified, whether running with the ball or combining with his team-mates. Ice cold from the spot for 2-0.

    Luis Diaz (8/10):

    Usual blur of energy and pressing. Won the penalty with his direct running power, and had Rangers running scared all night.

    Diogo Jota (7/10):

    Added loads in terms of Liverpool's pressing and ability to connect the game. Created a chance for Nunez, had a good effort saved himself, and made others around him look better than they have for weeks.

    Darwin Nunez (7/10):

    Handed just his third competitive start, he delivered an encouraging performance full of endeavour and quality movement. Might have had four goals in the first half alone, and it will annoy him that he didn't, but this was a fine performance and a much-needed one.

  • Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2022-23

    Subs & Manager

    Roberto Firmino (6/10):

    Came on to keep the ball. Was a bit hit and miss in that regard.

    Fabinho (6/10):

    Came on at 2-0 and kept things ticking over without doing anything special.

    Harvey Elliott (N/A):

    On for Nunez, who deserved his ovation.

    James Milner (N/A):

    Late sub with the game won. His 300th appearance for the Reds, and he marked it with an absolute cruncher to stop Colak pulling a goal back in stoppage time.

    Joe Gomez (N/A):

    On in stoppage time.

    Jurgen Klopp (7/10):

    Went bold with his selection and was rewarded with a performance that was far more familiar and much more encouraging. Smiling at the end, and why wouldn't he?