Lustrous Liverpool Maintain Winning Run
Liverpool opened up a 16 point lead at the top of the Premier League table with victory a 2-0 victory over their eternal rivals, Manchester United, at Anfield.
Goals in either half from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah gave the Reds a deserved victory in a performance of almost ceaseless dominance, with the final scoreline flattering the beleaguered visitors.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team were the only team to have taken any points off the table toppers in what has been a record breaking start to their domestic campaign and, judging from the early goings, the Liverpool players took umbrage to that.
Roared on by a vocal Anfield, the European Champions attacked from the first whistle and the pressure bore goal scoring fruit in the 14th minute.
It was symbolic to see Virgil van Dijk, the world’s foremost defender, rise and power above Harry Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender, to powerfully head Trent Alexander Arnold’s outswinging corner past David de Gea.
The Spanish keeper would continue to be busy as the opening half progressed and was perhaps fortunate not to concede a second, with van Dijk again in the thick of it. After a free kick, a scuffed Mohamed Salah volley saw van Dijk jump for the ball, in contest with de Gea. The United number one, under pressure, then spilled the ball, which — after Sadio Mane’s press won it back in the box — found it’s way to Firmino who rifled it into the right hand corner.
After a VAR consultation, however, van Dijk was adjudged to have fouled de Gea and the goal was chalked off. Undeterred, Liverpool continued to push and Mane, when released by a Salah through ball, ought to have scored when sent through one on one; but his left footed strike was directly at the feet of de Gea.
Completely dominant, the Reds were lulled into a sense of security and they were almost rudely awakened when Aaron Wan Bissaka’s ball across the face of goal was narrowly missed by the onrushing Andres Perreira. The Brazilian, mysteriously, appeared to try and make contact with the ball with his weaker foot and the home team’s 1-0 lead survived into half time.
Liverpool started the half in menacing fashion. Salah, when found by a low Robertson, cross badly miscued from five yards out and his effort rolled wide.
The onslaught on the United fork continued moments later, with Mané firing over and Henderson’s left footed shot hitting the post with the visitors badly struggling to play through the Reds intense and orchestrated press.
The European Champions continued to turn the screw and Oxlade Chamberlain’s strike from distance drew a solid save from de Gea.
Liverpool’s dominance was total, but with a one goal margin United were always in the contest. A driving run and shot from Fred — which went harmlessly wide — reminded the hosts of their rivals’ threat. Antony Martial, too, blazed a good opportunity over as the Reds’ control seemed to lull their focus.
More chances presented themselves, but Liverpool’s profligacy continued. A nutmeg from Georginio Wijnaldum opened up the pitch and the Dutchman’s through ball found Mané through on goal. Baring down on the goal, the Senegalese seemed caught in two minds, whether to shoot or cross, and his effort tamely trickled wide.
Only one goal in arrears, United’s confidence visibly grew and they started to put pressure on the Reds’ goal, without creating anything of note. The roles were reversed for the final minutes, with the visitors the aggressors and Liverpool content to play on the break; and it was this approach that sealed the match winning goal.
With the Old Trafford side committing everyone forward from a set piece, a quickly taken Alisson kick sent Salah through on goal and this time the Egyptian made no mistake and calmly clipped the ball past de Gea for the game sealing goal.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Oxlade Chamberlain, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitution: Lallana for Oxlade Chamberlain, Fabinho for Mane, Origi for Mane.
Subs not used: Adrian, Matip, Minamino, Jones.