How have the players done so far this season?

The season is now four months in and we are about to hit the busy festive period, which can prove to be make or break for a lot of aspirations in the game. So it seems a good opportunity to take stock and look at how the squad have fared so far during the campaign.

Brazil international Alisson Becker arrived at the club during the Summer for what was a world record fee at the time after Liverpool agreed a deal with Italian club AS Roma. He has been absolutely superb in the main. Rival fans were rubbing their hands together after his error in possession against Leicester City followed up a near miss at Anfield against Brighton – but he learned his lesson very quickly and has been immaculate with the ball at his feet since. He’s conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League so far this season and has the best save percentage. His quick thinking has helped lead to goals against Fulham, Everton and Burnley recently and that only adds to his value to the team. Nobody is talking about how much he cost anymore and he is very much in the mix when talking about not only the best goalkeepers in the country, but in the world. He’s exactly what we’ve needed since Pepe Reina lost his best form and left the club. A+

Another player who cost a world record fee, which still stands, when he signed is central defender Virgil Van Dijk. The Dutch international skipper has put down a serious claim to be considered the best in the business since arriving at Anfield in January this year in a £75m deal from Southampton. Some onlookers were staggered by the kind of fee Jurgen Klopp was prepared to shell out to bring him to Merseyside, but few are still querying that now. Van Dijk has composure, leadership, power, pace, aerial ability and can ping a pass forward with casual ease. He has been a major catalyst in the defensive improvements that have seen Liverpool become a title contender this season and is the defensive organiser we’ve missed since Jamie Carragher called it quits in 2013. The only criticism which could be levelled at him is that he doesn’t score enough goals given his physique and presence in the opposition box, but he more than makes up for that with the tasks in his remit. A+

England international Joe Gomez has come of age in 2018. The former Charlton Athletic defender has come into the side to play centrally alongside Van Dijk and few have questioned why he is getting picked ahead of Dejan Lovren. He has shown composure, confidence and a calmness which has been missing from a string of defenders charged with playing in the middle of the Liverpool defence. The injury he has suffered in the 3-1 victory over Burnley this week could be a real blow to the side. Gomez has formed a partnership with Van Dijk which is developing alongside their friendship off the pitch. Hopefully he can make a quick recovery and continue setting about becoming the best English centre-back around. A

Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is also an emerging England international, has had a breakthrough year in 2018. He not only played his way into the Liverpool side last season, but also managed to snatch himself a place on the plane to the World Cup as part of Gareth Southgate’s squad. He recently found the net for both club and country and is quickly developing into one of the most promising talents Anfield has seen over the past fifteen years or so. Needs to work on his crossing and corners, but his set piece strike against Watford showed that he can place a dead ball well. Is still young and has plenty of developing to do, but looks solid as the first-choice option on the right-hand side of the back four. B+

It has been a year of mixed emotions for Croatia international Dejan Lovren, having played in and lost both the Champions League and World Cup finals. He looked to be forging a promising partnership alongside Van Dijk after the Dutchman’s arrival midway through last season, but he started the campaign injured and has been unable to reclaim his place from Gomez. Is a very good option to have as third choice in the squad and will be looking to stake his claim to be upgraded back up to regular status during the absence of the young defender over the festive period. Seemed to blossom playing alongside a more composed and authoritative defender in Van Dijk and could focus more on his own game. He hasn’t let the side down when he’s been called upon and remains as determined to succeed as ever. B

Scotland international captain Andrew Robertson is quietly going about installing himself as the best left-back in the Premier League. His tireless energy and endless work-rate have seen him cement his place in the side. He works well in tandem with left-sided forward Sadio Mane and the two have doubled up to terrorise opposition defences since he broke into the side midway through the 2017/18 campaign following a gentle integration after his arrival from relegated Hull City. Looks increasingly more a steal at around £8m with each passing game and has become one of, if not the, most consistent performers in Jurgen Klopp’s squad. A

Former Schalke defender Joel Matip looks to be fourth in the queue for regular football at the heart of the Liverpool defence as things stand. Is an able footballer, but often looks a touch lightweight for the rigours of Premier League action. Can be a little too hesitant and lacking in assertiveness, which could potentially be due to a rustiness thanks to the inconsistency of his appearances. Few could argue, however, that having a player who was previously considered one of the best centre-backs in the Bundesliga before his arrival at Anfield in 2016 as fourth choice is a good thing. Grabbed himself a goal in the 3-0 win over Southampton in September and has stated his desire to ignore interest in January in order to stay and fight for his place. He will hope that the absence of Gomez through injury will present opportunities for him to show what he can do. He will want to perform better than he did against Red Star Belgrade recently though. B-

It looks like the much-maligned Alberto Moreno will finally be leaving the club when the contract he signed upon his arrival from Sevilla back in 2014 expires at the end of the campaign. He has been used more sparingly by Klopp as time has gone on, but his determination to give it all he’s got and not let anyone down remains in tact. Moreno seems so focused on giving it 100% that his attention and concentration can move away from the game and see him caught out of position at times. Had a fairly poor game at home against Chelsea in the defeat which saw the club exit the League Cup back in September, but didn’t let the team down against Cardiff City or Burnley when called upon. Will not be short of offers from his homeland when he comes to choose who he will join on a free transfer at the end of the season. C+

The future does not look bright for Nathaniel Clyne when it comes to his prospects of staying at Anfield beyond the end of the campaign. The England international right-back had a long spell out injured before returning earlier this year to find Alexander-Arnold and Gomez rotating his position in the side. He’s been unable to win it back, having barely played, and looks nailed on to be leaving Liverpool in 2019. He won’t be short of offers from other Premier League clubs, with a few believed to be lining up offers to try and tempt the club in to letting him go in January. His experience could prove useful while Gomez is out injured over Christmas as he would offer some respite for Alexander-Arnold as the fixtures pile up. Klopp is unlikely to want to let him go halfway through the season, but is likely to allow it when the campaign is over. D

Captain Jordan Henderson is unlikely to have seen so much competition for places in the Liverpool midfield since his arrival at Anfield back in 2011. He has faced plenty of scrutiny over his spot in the side since taking the captaincy back in 2015 when Steven Gerrard left and has a fight on his hands to keep hold of his number 6 role in the team. The arrival of Brazil international Fabinho and emergence of Georginio Wijnaldum as a genuine option for the deep-lying position means that he is under pressure to perform consistently or he will face being rotated or dropped to the bench. Klopp has always rated him and recently gave him further backing as skipper when announcing that the squad had voted over who should be third and fourth vice-captains. Injuries and suspension have seen him come in and out of the side this season, which has meant a struggle to maintain consistency. Will be very keen to show what he can do over the second half of the campaign. B-

Former England international James Milner has continued to be a trusted lieutenant for Klopp. His workrate continues to be staggeringly high for a player of his age and he offers a calmness from the penalty spot lacking in some of the attacking players further up the pitch. Loves to get stuck in, which makes him a great option for battles of attrition against the likes of Burnley on a wet Wednesday night in December. He too faces more competition for a place in the team than he’s been used to at Anfield, but will treat it the same as he does any other challenge – with belief and gusto. B+

Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum continues to be one of Klopp’s most used players this season. There are fans who question what he brings to the team, with plenty of performances that some perceive to be quiet. But his effectiveness can be seen by those who dig a little deeper than surface level. The former Newcastle United midfielder is never going to a prolific goalscorer and he doesn’t have the defensive prowess of a player like Javier Mascherano, but his recycling of the ball and neat passing make him a very proficient element of the midfield. He offers versatility as well, which can prove useful when tactical switches are required to adapt during a game. B+

There was plenty of hype, most of which was justified, when Naby Keita finally arrived at the club following a long wait after the deal was agreed with RB Leipzig during the Summer of 2017. Many thought he was going to hit the ground running following his impressive debut in the 4-0 win over West Ham on the opening weekend of the season. A few bright moments against Crystal Palace only increased the expectation that Liverpool now had a roving box to box midfielder to link the departments of the side together. But he had a quiet spell, with injuries helping to block his progress, before again showing what convinced Klopp to wait over a year and spend a fairly big fee on his services against Burnley this week. He put in a man of the match performances and has got fans excited that he is about to start showing his best form. B-

Brazil international Fabinho has had to be a patient man so far this season. He has been slowly integrated into the side and has not been given the chance to start a series of games as yet. Some very encouraging performances against Red Star Belgrade, Cardiff City and Everton have made people question why he isn’t being given the chance to show what is capable of over an extended period. But others will point to the Arsenal game as an example of why Klopp has been gentle with the introduction of the man he signed from AS Monaco shortly after the Champions League final in May. Fabinho has offered defensive protection in midfield, with his interceptions and tackles often sparking attacks. He is likely to be used more frequently as the season progresses if he continues his adaptation to the system as he has so far. B

Before some long spells out injured, Adam Lallana was one of Klopp’s most trusted players. But things have changed a lot for the England international and he now faces a serious battle to get back into the Liverpool side. The lack of creative midfielders in the squad should be a positive factor for the former Southampton man, but he has struggled to get going and is starting to look like someone who the team has left behind during his absences. While some fans have been patient and forgiven some underwhelming performances, others have been quick to point out that Lallana looks too slow and laboured in possession for the way the team plays. Talk of Christian Pulisic being a transfer target and the progress shown by Harry Wilson on loan at Championship side Derby County will not be doing his long-term prospects any favours. D

And nor will the Summer signing of Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City. The former Basel, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan man has come close to moving to Anfield so many times in the past that he must have thought the boat had sailed on his chances of being a Red. But he finally got his chance when his old club were relegated from the Premier League last season and has looked an absolute bargain at £13m odd. He has managed to score three goals so far and has chipped in a couple of assists too. Looks our most dangerous attacking midfielder by a country mile and has provided the link between the midfield and attack so sorely missing on several occasions since Philippe Coutinho left in January and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got injured. Shaqiri could have shown frustration with his lack of game time earlier on in the season, and some would have expected it of him given his reputation, but he has kept being positive and is seeing the benefits. He is getting more comfortable in the side with each appearance and will be a key player for us going into the second half of the season. A-

A lot of football fans were predicting that Mohamed Salah would be unable to carry the explosive form of his first season as a Liverpool player over into his second campaign at the club. Some will feel that they were right to predict that, as his prolific form in front of goal has slowed down this season. But others will point to the setback of the shoulder injury suffered in the Champions League final being followed up by premature return to action for Egypt at the World Cup. He’s still managed to find the back of the net nine times in twenty-one appearances so far this season, but does need to step up somewhat in the bigger games. Is finding his feet in the more calm system being deployed this season and faces the problem of being doubled up on by opposition defenders. Could also benefit from more form from his attacking colleagues. B+

Former Southampton winger Sadio Mane started the season well. He was scoring regularly and looked to have carried his sparkling form over from last season. But things slowed down a little for the Senegal international and he has been in generally mixed form over the past couple of months. He has managed to score seven goals in eighteen appearances so far this season, which perhaps indicates that the standards set last season are perhaps too high a demand to be replicated. His agreeing to sign a contract extension is a big positive and he now joins Salah and Firmino in being committed to Anfield long-term. Is still finding goalscoring positions regularly, but has left his shooting boots in the changing room on a few occasions – most notably against Everton at the weekend, when he could easily have had a hat-trick. If he, and his strike partners, can spark into life in the second half of the season then we could really push Manchester City all the way. B+

Forward Roberto Firmino has struggled to carry over his the form that saw him notch twenty-seven goals in all competitions last season. He has looked a lot more quiet and there are concerns that the Brazil international is jaded after such an energy-sapping 2017/18 campaign, with some claiming he is suffering with a World Cup hangover. Has managed to score just six goals so far this season and isn’t showing the same level of selflessness that saw him become so integral to the side last season. His workrate and determination were key to Salah and Mane last season and the three of them having found quite the same level of understanding yet this season. B-

The return to fitness of Daniel Sturridge was greeted by joy from a lot of Liverpool supporters – and his goalscoring form in preseason only served to fire up the coals further. He came off the bench to instantly get his name on the scoresheet against West Ham in the opening game of the season and that saw expectations grow in the stands. Goals against Paris Saint Germain and Chelsea have shown his worth to the squad and he has seemingly moved into the role of super sub off the back of his wonder strike at Stamford Bridge. Things were dampened by a dire first-half showing against Red Star Belgrade, in which he missed a sitter, and he is not under quite the same level of expectation now. Is a handy option to have on the bench at present, but his big wages won’t be on offer next Summer should the club decide to try and extend his stay. B

Belgian international Divock Origi looked nailed on to leave Anfield in the Summer after a relatively disappointing loan season with VfL Wolfsburg last year. But he has worked really hard in training and spoken positively about his desire to make the most of his return to the club this season. Many will feel that there was poetic justice in his late winner against Everton after a nasty foul by their former defender Ramiro Funes Mori ended his 2015/16 campaign. He didn’t really seize his moment against Burnley when handed a rare start, but has shown that he at least offers something as a squad player going into the business end of the campaign. C+

Things looked to be a bit more bright for Dominic Solanke after he finally notched his first goal for the club in the last Premier League fixture of last season against Brighton at Anfield in May. But he has struggled to even get on to the bench much of the time this season and a loan move in January looks his only realistic option of playing regular football during the current campaign. D

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