Welcome to the very first edition of my squad rankings series, a monthly piece where I rank each Liverpool player based on performances in the month, and assess how they are doing relative to their own rankings from previous months.
So, a brief explanation of the system: Each player gets rated out of ten on all of their performances from the month, by virtue of my personal opinion, before their scores are collated to create an average, which they are then ranked on in the monthly rankings based on their average score for the month. Each month, I will also be providing an updated season standings, where the players are ranked on their average score for the season, calculated from their monthly averages. So by the end of the season we should see who I have statistically rated as player of the season, and where every member fits into the rankings, as well as being able to track it through the season, checking in every month to see who’s moving up and down. Got it? Good…
The month ratings are the players’ scores from each match this month: Watford 3-3 Liverpool, Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool, Liverpool 1-0 Crystal Palace, Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim and Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal. Players receive marks for any game they played more than ten minutes in.
Player of the Month: Sadio Mane
Month ratings: 8,8,8,10,9 Month average: 8.6 Season average: 8.6
Mane wins my first player of the season award. Goals in every Premier League game as well as two standout performances in the Champions League have earned him August’s accolade. One of five players to start evert game so far, I gave Mane three scores of 8 to start the season as he dragged us back into the game at Watford, terrorised the Hoffenheim defence and grabbed the crucial winning goal against Palace. A perfect ten followed as he played a key role in the Anfield dismantling of Hoffenheim, before a nine for his goal and performance against Arsenal. Mane has already been invaluable to Liverpool this season, and it’s only right that he wins player of the month, in my opinion. Those goals against Watford and Palace – when on both occasions it looked like nothing was coming – could end up being very crucial.
2nd: Emre Can
Month ratings: 7,7,9,9 Month average: 8 Season average: 8
Can finishes second this month, with two good performances to start the month, followed by two excellent ones. Unlike Mane he hasn’t played all five games, but has still been superb. Hoffenheim at home was exceptional – two goals as well as a commanding central midfield display. Then came his man of the match showing against Arsenal, which capped off a very pleasing start to the season for the German.
=: Andy Robertson
Month ratings: 8 Month average: 8 Season average: 8
I guess this is maybe the fault in the system of average scores, as Robertson has only played one game yet ends joint second. I’m sure he wouldn’t have been happy to have only played in one of the first five games, but he put in such a good shift against Palace that it’s hard to see him out of the side for much longer. Offered great width and defensive abilities, as well as several bang-on-the-money crosses.
4th: Roberto Firmino
Month ratings: 7,7,6,10,9 Month average: 7.8 Season average: 7.8
Another three goal man is next, Roberto Firmino. Keeping his false nine position from last season Firmino has started the season well. A penalty at Watford was followed by two unspectacular games, although he was played out wide against Palace. Then came Hoffenheim, and one of his best ever Liverpool performances, before another superb Premier League display at home to Arsenal brought the curtain down on a successful month for the Brazilian.
5th: Alberto Moreno
Month ratings: 7,7,8,9 Month average: 7.75 Season average: 7.75
Who’d have thought this was possible? Moreno has made a very good start to the season following his reintegration into the first team, and is proving an excellent first choice left back currently. Watford and Hoffenheim were solid enough, but his last two performances have been really impressive both offensively and defensively – starting to look like his 2014-early 2016 self again.
6th: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Month ratings: 7,8,8 Month average: 7.67 Season average: 7.67
I think what exhibits Alexander-Arnold’s rise in stock most is the fact that Nathaniel Clyne might not be back until Christmas, but no one seems to be worried. Even aside from the stunning free kick away to Hoffenheim, his performances at right back have been so confident and impressive. Klopp is managing him well too, with good rotation with Joe Gomez, in order to keep both young players fresh and injury free.
7th: Simon Mignolet
Month ratings: 6,9,7,8 Month average: 7.5 Season average: 7.5
Apart from the first goal at Watford which he potentially could’ve done better for, and some less than impressive distribution in the same game, Mignolet has started the season very positively. A penalty save in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier, an assured display against Palace, and some very smart stops against Hoffenheim at home, which kept Liverpool’s lead so strong, are the reasons he features so highly this month.
8th: Mohamed Salah
Month ratings: 7,7,7,8,8 Month average: 7.4 Season average: 7.4
I was a bit surprised to see Salah win the official player of the month award, but even more surprised to see him eighth on my list after I had calculated everyone’s average. It says a lot about the quality of the first month when a player who has averaged nearly seven and a half is in this position. He is level with Mane and Firmino in goals scored, but a touch behind in performance level I feel, we’re still waiting to see the best from him, but it’s clear already that when we do, he will become an even more important player for us.
=: Joel Matip
Month ratings: 5,7,9,8,8 Month average: 7.4 Season average: 7.4
Matip’s start to the season has gone under the radar somewhat as the attacking players have grabbed the headlines, but he has quietly gone about his business. Starting in every game so far, he has put a poor showing at Vicarage Road behind him, and has established himself as our best centre back, with a terrific commanding performance against Crystal Palace, and two more domineering displays at home to Hoffenheim and Arsenal.
10th: Joe Gomez
Month ratings: 7,6,8 Month average: 7 Season average: 7
Gomez had some blame attached to him for the late equaliser at Watford, so can be thankful for the ‘must have played more than ten minutes’ rule, otherwise his average would’ve been lower. Since then though, he’s been very good. A simple but effective performance against Crystal Palace, a reliable substitute against Hoffenheim and a brilliant defensive and offensive day against Arsenal mean that he makes the top ten, and adds further challenge to the right back slot.
=: Daniel Sturridge
Month ratings: 7,7 Month average: 7 Season average: 7
Like Robertson, Sturridge is one who benefits hugely from having an average score. He has only made two appearances, but has rated as a seven in both. He was solid enough against Palace without scoring, before nodding in as a substitute against Arsenal to wrap the win up. Hopefully we’ll be seeing plenty more of him soon, because he looks good so far.
12th: Gini Wijnaldum
Month ratings: 4,6,6,8,9 Month average: 6.6 Season average: 6.6
This is one which will shock a few, but let me refer you to the recency effect. It is easy to remember Wijnaldum’s recent games, because they have happened recently, but he actually started the season quite poorly, Watford especially was a terrible display. However, his last two performances have been delightful, especially the Arsenal one, which is surely his best game in a Liverpool shirt. He put in an incredible shift, did everything that was asked of him and more, fought for every ball, won the midfield battle on his own at times, and further cemented his place in the hearts of Reds fans.
13th: James Milner
Month ratings: 7,6,6 Month average: 6.33 Season average: 6.33
Only one start for Milner this month, and that was an uninspiring midfield game against Crystal Palace. He’s been better when coming on as a sub, scoring a crucial goal away at Hoffenheim, and shoring things up in midfield in the reverse fixture. With the form of Moreno and Robertson, it’s hard to see Milner starting many games this season.
14th: Jordan Henderson
Month ratings: 5,6,6,7,7 Month average: 6.2 Season average: 6.2
The Liverpool captain is the only player to finish in the position of his squad number, but when your squad number is 14, it’s not exactly anything to write home about. Henderson hasn’t been poor by any means, but he is still struggling to hit the heights of his 2013-mid 2015 run. No matter how hard he tries, I just can’t see him as the number six right now, despite two much improved performances against Hoffenheim and Arsenal, where he exemplified his pressing ability, which is a very limited skill in our squad, and we can be thankful that the skipper has got it in droves.
15th: Ragnar Klavan
Month ratings: 6 Month ratings: 6 Season average: 6
Very little to say really, one start so far, against Palace, where he was solid enough apart from affording a chance to Benteke. Given the lack of centre half shaped summer signings, Klavan will probably get plenty of gametime this season.
=: Loris Karius
Month ratings: 6 Month average: 6 Season average: 6
Only made one appearance so far this season, when Simon Mignolet was inexplicably dropped. Didn’t have a great deal to do, but his distribution and footwork was alarming, and that’s being generous.
=: Dominic Solanke
Month ratings: 6 Month average: 6 Season average: 6
Solanke has only made one appearance this season, as a substitute against Crystal Palace, when he came on and helped set up Sadio Mane’s winning goal. After an impressive pre-season and a decent Premier League cameo, he will be expecting some more game time soon.
18th: Dejan Lovren
Month ratings: 5,5,4,6 Month average: 5 Season average: 5
Probably the only player who has been a real concern so far. Lovren has made a number of defensive errors, including giving away a penalty at Hoffenheim, and being at fault for two goals in the return leg. His performance improved against Arsenal, but still made some very questionable decisions.
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