Written by Daniel
Ok Fellow Liverpudlians ! Let’s Discuss Liverpool ! Let’s Talk Some Reds !
LIVERPOOL VS MANCHESTER CITY
Liverpool and Manchester City produced an epic sequel in their previous edge of the seat stuff campaign, with City coming on top by a meager point. As in the previous season, the showdown between the rivals was earmarked as the title decider. The difference was the matchup being renamed to a showdown between European champions and English champions. Liverpool, the reigning European champions, were 6 points clear. English champions, Manchester City, needed the win to come back into the title race. In their previous fixture, Liverpool scraped through at Villa Park, showing all the attributes of a title-winner by winning with the last kick of the match. City also came up with its own comeback against the saints. The matchup was mouth-watering as it was going to be a tactical battle between two genius attacking minds of the game. Klopp was the only coach Guardiola lost to more than 5 times. Moreover, Liverpool had never lost to Man City at Anfield in the last two decades. However, City came with extra confidence knowing they had beaten Liverpool to the title and recently beaten them at Wembley. The confidence showed as City started the match in good spirit and quickly made Liverpool’s colossal defender Van Dijk to errors. However, Liverpool got the break and scored inside 7 minutes with a pile-driver from Fabinho. The advantage quickly became 2 with another counter-attack which needed just two passes from the full-backs to reach the head of Salah and to the city net. The city conceded again and was 3 down just after the break. The implosion striking an eerie similarity to their previous Anfield memories. Although they mustered a goal Liverpool came up with the win and extended their lead to 9 points.
EARLY BIG GAMES
Liverpool vs Arsenal
The Arsenal match was the first of many challenges Liverpool faced from so-called ‘title challengers’. It was a top of the table match as Arsenal had won their opening matches and was sitting pretty in third. However, their recent form gave no false hopes of an Anfield win. Superior Liverpool came into the match as overwhelming favorites. The match went on the same script as Arsenal was just content defending their penalty box. However, Liverpool was erratic in their finishing and Arsenal survived. Suddenly a routine Adrian clearance fell straight to Aubameyang. He had a free goal to aim at as Adrian was out of his area. However, his finish became long and was off target. Then came Pepe running through on goal and only had Adrian to beat. But he shot straight into Adrian and the chance was gone. The game was teetering towards half time. Then came the corner from Alexander-Arnold which came looping into Joel Matip’s head. He made a solid connection with his head and that was the difference going into the break.
After the break, it was all Liverpool as Arsenal couldn’t muster a touch in Liverpool’s attacking half. Quickly matters turned worse as David Luiz pulled Salah in the box resulting in a penalty. Salah converted and went on to add a third as Arsenal collapsed. However, they got a reprieve as Liverpool’s defense again switched off. The time was almost up and Liverpool could waste substitutions to their advantage. The match indeed ended 3-1.
Lampard vs Klopp
It was a Chelsea-Liverpool showdown but as Chelsea were in transition Liverpool were the favorites. Lampard had a mixed bag of results to start with and the previous Wolves game coming as the only bright light. Contrarily, Liverpool had won all of their opening games and hopped into London with a win in sight. Liverpool began on a fast note playing quick one-touch passes freeing up spaces behind the last line of Chelsea. This also created space between the lines and Fabinho took advantage by dribbling past two players to put Mane in sight of the goal. He was quickly fouled by Chelsea defence resulting in a free-kick in the edge of the box. The free-kick was a masterpiece as Salah made a split-second decision to tee-up TAA. This altered the angle of the free-kick. Alexander Arnold blasted the ball which went curling into the net with the power on the shot beating the goalkeeper. Chelsea responded and had their number 9 running through on goal. However, Adrian read his intention to place the goal between his feet. Then Chelsea scored. A corner kick had been cleared but the next move resulted in a goal. However,it was ruled out by VAR. Liverpool made sure they took advantage of the boost of the canceled goal and was toying with Chelsea players who were demoralized. Wijnaldum flicked the ball over the Chelsea captain who predictably brought him down. A free-kick awarded again which was outside the penalty box on the right flank of Chelsea defensive Half. Robertson and Arnold plotted the plan to alter the angle of the free-kick again. Chelsea again got dumbfounded and Firmino thumbed in a free header. The match tethered into half time. In the second half, Liverpool dominated the proceedings with just the finishing evading them. It did come to haunt them as Chelsea responded with a glorious run and finish by Engolo Kante. The goal came out of the blue but Chelsea jolted by it passed around Liverpool with much ease. The goal had to come and it nearly came with Batshuayi getting a free header which he placed wide. Mason mount also obtained another easy opportunity to score but floundered a finish from an exactly similar position to Batshuayi in the penalty box. The match was over. Liverpool won again for the sixth consecutive match.
The Northwest Derby
The matchup against old rivals Manchester United quickly gained significance as Liverpool approached Old Trafford. United had made their worst start in 20 years and was 15 points behind their biggest rival as Liverpool were perfect in their campaign thus far. United were the underdogs. However, the matches at Old Trafford was a different game. Liverpool hadn’t won there in 5 years. The match started with Liverpool in complete control and United threatening in the counter only. This helped Liverpool gain more confidence-building momentum. The crowd sensed a Liverpool goal. From a United corner, Liverpool counter-attacked with Mane played in on the left-wing. He ultimately cut back the pass to Firmino who was free outside the penalty box. However, he shot straight at the goalie giving United a much-needed reprieve. In the next move, it was United countering with Liverpool expecting a foul to be given on Origi. However, the whistle never came, and to make matters worse, United scored. Liverpool was stunned. They hoped VAR would choke that out but in fact, it disallowed their equalizer which had come instantly by way of a Mane strike. Soon the referee blew the whistle for half time and it came at the perfect time for United. After the break, it was business as usual with Liverpool controlling the ball and United countering at every possible opportunity. United grew in confidence as the match went on and were getting more opportunities to double their lead. But Liverpool got more impetus from their substitutes and pushed United deeper into their shell. Then Klopp played his ultimate trump card in Adam Lallana which created havoc in the United defense as too many forward runs were made by Liverpool attackers. The unsettling lead to the Liverpool equalizer as one of the cross found Lallana free in the box to tap in from six yards. The mentality monsters had struck again. Suddenly United looked shaky and was there for the taking. Trent Alexander Arnold and Oxlade chamberlain tried their luck from the perimeter of the United penalty box. However, both went narrowly wide. Fortunately for United, time was on their side and Liverpool was left pondering why they hadn’t come out of Old Trafford with the three points.
Spurs came to Anfield with revenge in mind being it a rematch of the champions league final. The blip against United made the match more important for Liverpool in their title quest. Moreover, City had won their match and closed the gap to 6 points. Liverpool needed to win to remain the favorite as Leicester also came to the Title picture. However, Spurs hadn’t won their previous 5 matches against Liverpool and was hoping the dice would fall favorably on their side. The match started as they wished for with a Harry Kane header who pounced on a rare indecision by the Liverpool defense. But Liverpool quickly reasserted their dominance and was laying a siege at the Spurs goal. Spurs resisted every Liverpool attack with lady luck coming to their rescue till the half time. In the second half, the game was even as Spurs counters proving to be effective. However, Liverpool’s persistence were rewarded through a rare captain’s goal by Henderson. The Game was level. As Spurs had nothing to lose for, they came out of their shell. They called on their marquee signing to freshen their midfield. But Liverpool managed to break free Mane who was brought down clumsily in the penalty area. Salah converted the awarded penalty and Liverpool went on to hold their lead till the full time.
LIVERPOOL VS MANCHESTER UNITED
The game needs no further introduction. The year was 2020 but It was still the biggest game in England. Its fiercly competitive and unforgiving anywhere, anytime they come up againt each other. It gained further significance as Liverpool were on their way to eclipsing Manchester United as the Premier club in English football. United had a final opportunity to forego that notion and remain as the ultimate Kings of the land. Liverpool were unbeaten in 38 games. Moreover, 12 of the recent games were victories and therefore there were murmurs that this game could be a mauling for United. However United were expectant as Liverpool always choked when it comes to the finishing line of a title race. So is this going to be another of their epic slip-ups?
The game started with United maintaining possession. Liverpool was pressing and waiting on to pounce on any mistake by United. The game was even until the first 10 minutes making Liverpool fans a little bit nervous. The cutting edge which often lacked in the United play meant Liverpool were always going to get a break. The pace of the front three of Liverpool meant United always was precarious. It proved fatal though as Liverpool gained the upper hand after the ten minutes with Oxlade-Chamberlain driving them. United stopped him only to present Liverpool with a corner in which Van Dijk powered a header into the net. United was downcast. Liverpool, on the other hand, felt business as usual. They dominated the proceedings with United on the edge. However, United almost equalized with Pereira who was inches from a tap in. Liverpool also had a near miss as Mane was played through on goal with only De Gea to beat. De Gea made the crucial save and kept United in the game as he does so often. Half time came soon and Liverpool was worthy of their lead.
In the second half, it was one-way traffic as Liverpool dominated in possession and chances created. The killing instinct of a finisher only prevented them from doubling their lead. Then came the driving run and shot by the captain Henderson. The shot was expected to ripple the net however De Gea and the post came to the rescue for United. Liverpool changed their dynamic from keeping possession to defending possession as United was drawn into attacking. Martial almost unlocked the Liverpool defense with a slalom run from the wings but his wavered finishing let Liverpool off the hook. The game drifted into full time. However, as any Liverpool-United game, the intense finale ensued. The momentum slightly shifted to United’s way as they had multiple corners. From one such corner, the ball bounced into the hands of Alisson. He differently to other goalkeepers had other ideas in mind. Seeing Salah alone near the half-line with only de Gea to beat he sent a looping pass to him. United was the only team Salah hadn’t scored in his time as a Liverpool player. But as he went through the goal seemed an inevitability. Daniel James, the only United player with him tried to muster a challenge. However, Salah picked his spot through De Gea’s legs and Liverpool got their fairytale finish. After this game, Liverpool fans reveled singing “ we are going to win the league”. The league was indeed won soon after as City lost multiple games.