Having previously played in the Champions League and League Cup, Rhys Williams was finally tabbed to fill-in for Joel Matip this time in the Premier League, and he delivered. Save for a shaky opening part of the second half, Williams was fantastic, winning more aerial duels than any other player (six), and playing a part in Mohamed Salah‘s opening goal.
Manager Jürgen Klopp was ecstatic in his praise for young Rhys after the game:
Oh my god! Outstanding, outstanding. Come on, Rhys Williams you can imagine, it’s like the modern-day Alan Shearer he played against, Harry Kane. He is so smart, dropping in the right moments. Second half they only played long balls and actually avoided Rhys.
They played them in the direction of Fabinho and put Harry there – so we had to really fight for these second balls – because Rhys is so strong in the air.
But with the ball as well, he played a pass before our first goal.
He has the right amount of confidence. For a 19-year-old boy you don’t have to explain to other people how it works, but you have to be confident.
Apart from that, he just kept it simple. Super challenges, but [also] interceptions in the centre when they tried to create counter-attacks, he didn’t drop too early so he won these balls.
Absolutely incredible game, I have to say.
Captain Jordan Henderson joined in on the love-in in his post-match interview, singling out Williams for his aerial dominance and communication:
I told you before the game he’d been outstanding, and I hoped for the same tonight, and he was outstanding again.
I thought he was one of the best players on the park, won the majority of things in the air, defended, I could hear him talking all the time for such a young lad.
So delighted for him, but not just him. I thought Fabinho next to him, the whole back four and the whole team, to be honest.
After a few understandably nervous outings when he was thrown into the rotation, Rhys has now gone from strength-to-strength, is easily one of the best feel-good stories of the season. Keep going, lad!