Aston Villa came close to scoring inside the first minute, setting the tone for a dominant half from the visitors. For Liverpool, an overzealous lineup only served to expose the back four and play right into the hands of Villa's vicious counter attack. Down 2-0, Liverpool hit back right before the intermission through Daniel Sturridge, and shortly after on a controversially won penalty. Villa were willing to take a useful draw from Anfield after Liverpool equalized, buckling down and stemming Liverpool's advances over the final 40 minutes. Villa deserves as much credit for their performance as Liverpool deserves criticism for their lackluster display.
Mignolet - 5 - He was caught dreadfully out of position as Benteke put Villa up 2-0, which isn't the first soft goal he's allowed over the past month.
Johnson - 4 - Glen Johnson is now living entirely off his reputation. This was another game where he simply disappeared, doing nothing to help the attack or the defense. Villa's second goal wouldn't have happened if Mignolet positioned himself better, but Johnson really should have headed clear. Liverpool aren't likely to bench Johnson in the near future which is a shame since he needs a kick in the pants.
Toure - 4 - The first play of the game captured Toure's performance to perfection -- a quick Villa long ball was completely whiffed at by the Ivorian center back, and Christian Benteke flicked the ball onto Gabby Agblonlahor who had only Mignolet to beat, yet chipped wide. The repeated speed that Villa came at Liverpool with overwhelmed Toure, who was already a suspect matchup against a strong aerial team. Speaking of aerial troubles, Ciaran Clark nearly opened up the scoring to the blushes of Toure, bursting past Kolo only to head the incoming corner into the post. Toure was beaten again when Agblonlahor drifted past him in the box and then crossed to Weimann who put Villa up 1-0. While Toure was poor, he was far from the only problem for Liverpool -- it was truly a group flop from the men in red.
Skrtel - 4 - Skrtel's shakiness blended in with the rest of the defense. He's incredibly volatile at a position that demands consistent greatness, making some great tackles as well as some horrid marking mistakes.
Cissokho - 4 - Cissokho got forward nicely, but on numerous occasions he failed to retreat defensively, helping Villa excel on the counter. He also hit the worst shot of the game with Sturridge and Suarez to cross to.
Gerrard - 5 - We know now that Gerrard shouldn't be Liverpool's deepest lying midfielder, which was the case during a shocking first half that saw Villa absolutely bulldoze the Reds. To compound the problem, Rodgers opted to field an attack minded lineup with only Gerrard and Henderson in the central midfield, putting pressure on Gerrard to cover lots of ground, something his legs can't handle anymore. There was also the matter of Gerrard's statue-like contribution to Villa's opening goal, as the captain could only watch Weimann easily slip by him to score. After Lucas came on, Gerrard played much better. In a slightly more advanced position, he placed a 50 yard long ball right on the feet of Suarez who drew a penalty. As for the penalty kick itself, there wasn't much doubt that Gerrard would dispatch, and he did so by confidently beating Brad Guzan to the bottom right corner.
Henderson - 5 - It's hard to blame Henderson too much for the way Villa overran Liverpool's midfield early on because with only a misplaced Gerrard alongside him, he was burdened with shielding the defense essentially by himself. No one in the world succeeds in that situation. His flick to Sturridge, who pulled the score to 2-1, was brilliant, and he played better in the second half after Rodgers inserted Lucas and then Joe Allen into the match.
Coutinho - 5 - Coutinho played a subpar match, and there was no remorse when he was sacrificed at halftime for Lucas. He lacked sharpness, especially when passing the ball. There was so much expectation for Coutinho coming into the season, and up to this point he hasn't lived up to it. I expect him to bounce back -- he's too good not to -- but hopefully he can get back on track sooner rather than later. Likely Rodgers will relegate him to the super sub role for the time being.
Sterling - 7 - Sterling has a strong case for man of the match, again using his pace and dribbling ability to put the opposition on its heels. With every game, Sterling is linking up better and better with the other attackers. Also, on a side note, any player that falls down under the contact of Sterling is a bit of a joke, unless they're tripped.
Suarez- 7 - Was it a penalty? I don't care. It was called, Liverpool scored, and no pundit can make me feel any semblance of guilt for that. Moving on, Suarez played decently, winning a few free kicks with clever turns of his body and initiating the move that led to Sturridge's goal.
Sturridge - 7 - His goal took a lot of technique and was absolutely vital to Liverpool's comeback. In the second half he flowed well with the other attackers, although Liverpool never found the elusive third goal necessary to grab all of the points.
Lucas - 6 - The game changed when Lucas came on, and Liverpool immediately looked like themselves once again. Some of that was because the second half structure suited Liverpool more, but Lucas was bright in his own right until his injury.
Allen - 6 - Allen came in after the Lucas injury and dutifully did his part in controlling the midfield. He didn't do anything special, but nothing special was asked of him.
Brendan Rodgers - 4 - The starting lineup was a terrible, overconfident idea, and hopefully Rodgers never does that again.