Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 16 points, after a nervy 2-0 win over bitter rivals Manchester United.
The home side went ahead after just 14 minutes, Virgil van Dijk rising highest to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s inch-perfect corner. The recently crowned world champions went on to have two goals disallowed, following a VAR review and an offside infringement, before missing a number of golden opportunities to extend their lead in the second-half.
Mohamed Salah did eventually seal the win, and quite possibly the Premier League title, in the dying moments of the game on a defining afternoon for the title-chasing Reds.
The play of Liverpool’s midfield will please Jurgen Klopp immensely, as the trio complemented each other perfectly. In addition, the set-piece delivery of Alexander-Arnold continues to be vitally important, as it adds another huge threat to Liverpool’s fearsome attacking. It was the young Scouser’s corner that led to Van Dijk’s early opener.
For the second Premier League game in a row, Liverpool did present a number of goal-scoring chances to the opposition. After having two goals disallowed, the home side looked momentarily vulnerable — and could have fallen behind, had Andreas Pereira‘s studs been a tad longer.
Ultimately, it made little difference. But if the Reds do want to maintain their unbeaten run until the end of the season, they will likely have to kill teams off, rather than offering opponents glimmers of hope.
Manager rating (out of 10)
8 — The German boss got his team selection spot on, particularly so in midfield, where the delegation of duties was balanced out perfectly. Georginio Wijnaldum was tasked with making runs forward, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the sides creative outlet from deep, while Jordan Henderson broke up United attacks and recycled the ball with distinction. Elsewhere, the team virtually picks itself at this point.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 7 — Made a handful of fine stops to keep United out. Much like against Spurs last week, the Brazilian stopper held on to tricky shots wonderfully well, depriving United’s forwards of an opportunity to score from a parried attempt. Showed the quality of his distribution with a pinpoint punt for Salah, who scored the clincher and earned Alisson an assist.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 8 — From a dead-ball situation, the young right-back is deadly, as he once again proved with an inch-perfect corner for Van Dijk’s early goal. Provided a number of excellent set-piece deliveries, and on another day could have had a handful of assists.
DF Joe Gomez, 7 — Dealt admirably well with the threat of the away side’s forwards, showcasing his raw pace when United posed a threat on the counter. The second half presented greater challenges, as Anthony Martial got the better of Gomez on a couple of occasions.
DF Virgil Van Dijk, 9 — Utter dominance from the towering Dutchman, who opened the scoring with a powerful header and thwarted many a United attack. On a day when Liverpool struggled to kill the game off, Van Dijk was arguably the difference.
DF Andrew Robertson, 7 — While not as impactful as his fellow full-back, Robertson did maintain the kind intensity and energy going forward that we have all become accustomed to. The Scotland captain also linked up well with Sadio Mane and Wijnaldum down the left-hand side, often to devastating effect.
MF Jordan Henderson, 7 — Marshalled the midfield well from a deeper position, helping to control the game with accurate passing and key interceptions. The skipper continues to remind observers of his importance to the side — and will rue a missed opportunity to score, after rattling the post from range.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 7 — Threaded a handful of beautifully weighted through balls, in a creative first-half outing. The former Arsenal man always looked menacing with the ball at his feet.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 8 — The Dutch international created all kinds of problems for the United defence by endlessly overlapping Robertson on the left-hand side to overwhelm the opposition’s back line. With bags of energy, and imaginative movement, Wijnaldum was certainly one of the most influential players on show. Had the ball in the back of the net on one occasion but was rightly ruled offside.
FW Mohamed Salah, 7 — Missed a gilt-edged chance early in the second half, in a position where any clean contact would have yielded a goal. He made up for that miss and then some, by sealing Liverpool’s win late on with a well-taken finish.
FW Sadio Mane, 7 — Had a number of good goal-scoring opportunities, but ultimately was unable to covert any of them in an eventful first half. Finishing aside, Mane was excellent in every other department — especially in terms of movement, where he persistently eluded Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
FW Roberto Firmino, 8 — Was unlucky to have had a goal disallowed in the first half, but he remained a constant threat throughout, never allowing United’s defence to settle on the ball. A well-rounded display that only lacked a goal.
MF Adam Lallana, 6 — Jurgen Klopp’s customary sub of late, the veteran creator came on after an hour in place of Oxlade-Chamberlain. He worked hard without the ball, but struggled to influence the game going forward.
MF Fabinho, N/R — Made his return from injury to a thunderous applause but was only on for 10 minutes.
FW Divock Origi, N/R — On late to relieve Firmino but didn’t have much of a role to play.