It was by no means a New Year’s Eve firework as so many had hoped for, but Liverpool ended the calendar year with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Anfield. The media narrative suggests the away side were terrible but how much of that was down to Liverpool being effective at nullifying Guardiola’s men? It didn’t have to be a classic, the Reds just had to win and they did just that so they go into the New Year just six points behind Chelsea despite the fact the league leaders have won thirteen consecutive games. Klopp and his players are keeping the pace and just waiting for the opportunity to cut that lead at the top.
Two Big-Money Signings Deliver
Two of the last three Liverpool matches have been won 1-0 and in both games the two big-money signings from the summer scored the deciding goal. Sadio Mane popped up in the last minute to break Evertonian hearts and Gini Wijnaldum channeled his inner Terry McDermott to thunder home what turned out to be the winner early on against Man City.
It’s not as straightforward as saying they were both directly responsible for the wins but they played a huge role in the Reds picking up an all important six points to keep pressure on Chelsea. Every summer a team will invest heavily in a player and hope they deliver when the pressure is on and Liverpool have been fortunate enough that their £55million signings have done just that.
Another Clean Sheet
Since the 2-2 draw with West Ham, Liverpool have kept three clean sheets in four Premier League games and if we’re being brutally honest, they’ve hardly been tested. Simon Mignolet hasn’t really been called upon and it’s been a positive to see the defence dig in deep and show their resolve. Even against ‘Boro, after they got to grip with that was going on, they handled them fairly well. They’ve shown resiliency without Joel Matip and they, along with the rest of the team, managed to nullify a pretty potent attack in Man City.
Controlling the Match
In the 4-3 loss at Bournemouth, Liverpool lost control. They lost control in the midfield, they lost control in defence and they lost their heads. It’s not the first time it’s happened either. For a while it seemed like if the Reds invited pressure onto them they’d inevitably concede and the foundations the defence were built on weren’t as sturdy as first advertised. However, against Man City Liverpool controlled everything. The ball, the possession and the pitch. It was a composed performance from a team made up of players with little experience when it comes to winning games. But it showed they can not just grind out results but dominate a good side, both with and without the ball.