The best in months. Liverpool could have quite easily scored 8 and it would not have flattered them. It was an incredible team response to the lazy headlines of bottlers and the nerves of a title race being too much to take. The Reds bottled up their anger and directed it towards a Bournemouth side that just couldn’t live with Liverpool’s quality and directness. From the off Bournemouth were being pressed relentlessly. The early display of aggression and focus that was backed by an equally motivated crowd sucked the belief out of Bournemouth. They knew they were in a battle and that Liverpool were on it. The result never looked in doubt as Liverpool controlled and stifled Bournemouth’s attacking threat while continuing to create chances at will. The Reds were impeccable all over the park with so many outstanding individual performances.
Salah returned to his very best. He had two quiet games where he wasn’t helped by the performances of his teammates. Today however, the likes of Firmino, Mane and Keita helped him massively and vice versa. Salah played more of a wide role today as we reverted back to the 4-3-3 shape. We will find out if this was a once off to accommodate certain players’ injuries or dip in form or if it is more long term in the coming weeks. I feel as if this system may have been recalled to allow Liverpool to hit peak form in both competitions in the business end of the season. While City were blowing teams away in the first half of the season, Liverpool’s approach was much more pragmatic, perhaps conserving energy to enact this plan. We will see. As for Mo, his goal is probably the greatest anyone has scored this season. But it was by no means his only contribution. Salah was involved in everything going forward. His decision-making and weight of pass was astonishing. The creative side of his game is easy to overlook, given the fact he’s the best goalscorer in the country but he has created 13 big chances this season, bettered only by Ryan Fraser. 3 of those chances were created today as he carried the ball forward from wide positions and from deep with devastating pace and releasing the ball with precision at the right moments. He was also unlucky not to score more as he rattled the crossbar in a move similar to his goal and tested Boruc on a number of occasions. He was visibly frustrated in not adding to his tally and strengthening his position as the league’s top scorer, but that did not affect his unselfishness and willingness to set up his teammates.
After a 10-day break, the season truly heats up from here. With the return of the Champions League as the German champions come to Anfield, followed by trips to Old Trafford and Goodison either side of a home game versus Watford. The purpose of the training in Dubai was to prepare the boys for this exact run. If we can maximise our points in this run or better Man City’s points return in this run, we are in a wonderful position and all talk of bottling has been rightly put to bed. It is very possible that we are yet to see the best from these record-breaking Reds.
What a devastating thought.