Last week, we were quick to pounce upon the inner turmoil inside the Liverpool camp and how slow they have been at coming out of the blocks this season. While we and most of the big sportsbooks inferred the troubles the Reds were suffering on the pitch, it seems like they may have turned a corner with a stunning 1-0 victory over Manchester City at Anfield in the EPL over the weekend.
Have Klopp turned the ship around?
The noise that reverberated around the Kop end after the final whistle was deafening. It was a masterclass from Jurgen Klopp in terms of how he engineered the win, albeit he was forced to watch the last 15 minutes from the dressing room after he was sent off for remonstrating with the fourth official. The victory has shaken things up in the title race, and while Liverpool still has plenty of work to do to get back on track, it can still be viewed as a positive step in the right direction. Are the real Liverpool back? And can the past week be the launchpad for the Merseysiders to have a fabulous campaign? We have reflected on the victory over City and conveyed the importance of it.
If there was one player that epitomized the desire of Liverpool, then it was Mohamed Salah. There had been serious concerns in the first few weeks of the campaign over the Egyptian’s form after netting just twice. But he was back with a vengeance and things clicked against City, and he now four goals to his name in his past two outings in all competitions. However, in what was a frantic affair, Salah kept his cool when it mattered most. Alisson showed speed of thought to release Salah with a long clearance (their third goal combination in EPL history), and after spinning Joao Cancelo, Salah bore down on the City penalty area and he tucked his effort past Ederson.
Salah looked unstoppable
Salah had come off the back of a remarkable performance at Rangers where he netted an exquisite hat-trick in six minutes (the quickest in Champions League history), and he was a nuisance against City. He was almost unstoppable at times and he verged on the sublime. If there is one sign that Liverpool are fast approaching their best, then it will be that Salah has found the midas touch.
Erling Haaland kept quiet
Before the game, it seemed almost a given that Erling Haaland would net against Liverpool, such had been his blistering form. However, in the wake of City’s defeat, some rather surprising stats emerged:
- Haaland, who has 15 EPL goals to his name, failed to score for the first time in eight games since his side’s 4-0 win over Bournemouth in August.
- City tasted their first away defeat in 14 months in the EPL, with their previous loss coming on the road against Tottenham.
- Liverpool opened the scoring for the first time in an EPL game since April.
- The Reds became the first team in 19 EPL fixtures to stop City from scoring.
- After 10 games, City have already amassed 33 goals.
Invariably, Haaland is a threat and he has electrified the EPL with his sharp movement and sheer power that leaves defenders in his wake. The Norwegian striker was limited to a few chances, one of which was a lob that didn’t quite have enough elevation while Alisson was well placed to keep out a header and a left-footed shot that Haaland couldn’t quite wrap his foot around.
On another day, Haaland may have had a hat-trick, but sometimes, you just have a bad day at the office.
Virgil van Dijk takes charge
Virgil van Dijk is far from a shrinking violet, but he bossed the heart of defense against City, and he wasn’t afraid to do his fair share of dirty work. His reading of the game was superb and he was ably supported by Joe Gomez, who snuffed out any threats. Van Dijk has at times been caught on his heels this season, but against Haaland, he made himself counted, and it was a performance we have been accustomed to expecting from the Dutchman. Although Van Dijk had admitted the confidence had “ebbed away” from his side, this was a monstrous display as the Reds kept just their third clean sheet of the campaign.
Pep left fuming again
It’s not often that Pep Guardiola is left riled, but for some reason or another, City struggle on their trips to Anfield. In the past 22 seasons, City have only won twice, and that run has brought 14 defeats. City had a Phil Foden effort ruled out following a Haaland foul in the build-up on Fabinho which was checked on the pitchside monitor, and Guardiola was incandescent. He even conceded that it is hard to get big decisions go his way at Anfield.
These games have always been decided on fine margins and it was no different this time. While the loss heralded City’s first defeat of the season, it won’t be enough to knock them out of their stride, but they now have a genuine title contender in Arsenal to deal with.
A sign of better things to come
Liverpool were arguably struggling to clutch onto any positives after a torrid start to the campaign, but the past week has suggested they are fast approaching their best. They have a decent run of games to look forward to with their next toughest fixture being an EPL showdown with Tottenham. As things stand, Liverpool are six points off the top four. While a title challenge still appears to be out of the question, their chances of finishing in the top four appear eminently more realistic, and they are trading at -175 with BetMGM to do so. The green shoots of recovery are visible, and maybe, just maybe, the win over City will give them the impetus to kick on.