Salah exorcises United ghost to put Reds “back on their perch” – Media on Liverpool 2-0 Man United

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The media crowned Liverpool Premier League champions after the 2-0 win against Man United and felt victory showed the two rivals are now worlds apart.

The Reds swept their bitter rivals aside at Anfield to extend the lead at the top of the Premier League to a monstrous 16 points.

A goal in either half from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah—his first for Liverpool against United—claimed what was a thoroughly deserved victory for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

It’s now an incredible 21 wins from 22 league matches and it felt a particularly momentous one, putting the Reds in an almost untouchable position to finally secure the long-awaited 19th league title.

Here’s the best of the analysis from the media after the sweet victory.

 

The title race is now won, in the view of every journalist commenting on the victory…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's xxxx during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Matt Stead, writing for Football365, led the congratulations, noting that the remainder of the season will be “nothing more than a title procession” for Liverpool:

“Liverpool are going to win the league. Welcome aboard, even those of a nervous disposition or an aversion to risk jinxing things.

“These next four months are nothing more than a title procession.”

The Mirror’s Liam Prenderville thinks the Reds will not only win the Premier League crown, but will do so by completing the season unbeaten:

“The Reds still have 16 games to go if they are to finish the campaign unbeaten but there is now a serious belief they will not lose.

“Liverpool still have to go to Manchester City and Arsenal, and host Chelsea , but will fancy their chances against anyone at the moment. They are starting to look Invincible.”

For Liverpool to make that happen, an improvement in being ruthless to kill off games will be required, in the view of ESPN’s Tom Fenton:

“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.”

And the Liverpool Echo’s Paul Gorst is also sure that the title will arrive, noting that even if the Reds do suffer a dip in results, neither Man City nor Leicester are good enough to take full advantage:

“You won’t find Klopp conceding as much just yet but neither City nor Leicester are equipped to take advantage, even if the most ridiculous of crumblings does somehow take place at Anfield.”

 

Journalists wrote that Salah’s goal was the “moment in time” that ensured the title pursuit will be successful…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ESPN’s Mark Ogden explained how Salah’s goal felt a decisive moment in securing the title and marking the Reds as English football’s dominant force once again:

“Salah’s goal felt like such a moment in time, not only for this title race but also in terms of Liverpool exorcising the ghost of United’s dominance under their former manager.

[…]

“It was the moment Anfield knew the title is bound for Liverpool and signified to Ferguson that his work had been undone. Liverpool are back on their perch and it looks set to be years before United are capable of knocking them off again.”

BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty explained how the celebrations after Salah’s victory-clincher were “a moment of release” as Liverpool showed nothing will stop them from here:

“The growing certainty that the pain of 30 years without a league title will be relieved within weeks is something Liverpool have clearly been trying to keep a lid on – but the explosion of joy around Anfield in the closing seconds of victory over Manchester United sounded like the moment of release.

[…]

“As Mohamed Salah raced on to goalkeeper Alisson‘s injury-time clearance, held off the chasing Daniel James and rolled his finish beyond United keeper David de Gea, there was almost a symbolism about the celebrations.”

And Salah’s strike was the moment that allowed Liverpool fans to really believe for the first time that this finally will be our year, wrote the Telegraph/em>’s< Jason Burt:

“Of course they are going to win the Premier League. The wait will soon be over, the clock will soon stop, after 30 years, but this was the first time that the Liverpool supporters have allowed themselves to say that publicly.

“The first time they could not contain themselves any more and told the rest of the world what it already knew.”

 

The media felt the Reds were superior all over the pitch to United – particularly in midfield…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield.(Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Independent’s Miguel Delaney reflected that United “couldn’t get close” to Klopp’s side:

“United couldn’t get close to Liverpool in almost any sense.

[…]

“There was little so fractional about the rest of the play. There was just a chasm, often reflected in the very nature of play…it was Keystone Cops against a crack SWAT team, Liverpool so often threatening to just swoop in and sweep United away.”

Melissa Reddy, for the same publication, reflected on how some of the football Liverpool played “was on a different planet” to anything United produced:

“Some of the football played in the first 45 and at the start of the second period felt as though it was on a different planet to United’s, which often distilled into ‘run, Daniel James, run!’”

Writing for The National, Richard Jolly felt the game showed the huge gulf between the teams and stated how Liverpool’s dominance was even greater than the result suggested:

“Liverpool have dominated a division this season. They enjoyed a level of superiority over United to indicate how the mighty have fallen and a gulf has grown, even if it was not reflected in the scoreline.

[…]

“They should not convince themselves this was close. Liverpool were too strong and too sharp.”

The Guardian’s David Hytner assessed that United were simply unable to cope with Liverpool’s intensity:

“This was a game in which Liverpool’s superiority was so pronounced for most of the first half and the early part of the second that it would have been no surprise had they led by five or six.

“The intensity of their football coupled with the surgical nature of their incisions were enough to take the breath.”

Fenton thought Klopp got his midfield selection “spot on” and assessed that the trio excelled as they “complimented each other perfectly”:

“The play of Liverpool’s midfield will please Jurgen Klopp immensely, as the trio complimented each other perfectly.

[…]

“The German boss got his team selection spot on, particularly so in midfield, where the delegation of duties was balanced out perfectly.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mail’s Dominic King singled out Jordan Henderson’s “colossal” role in the victory and believes the captain should be crowned PFA Player of the Year given how good he has been over a consistent period:

“Henderson’s role in this campaign, however, has been colossal. He is the beating heart of this squad, the standard-setter and the running man, who covered 11.49km against United. He has been in that vein for 12 months and when someone shows such consistency, it deserves recognition.

[…]

“Look at his catalogue of work: Henderson has lifted the Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. He has shown adaptability, playing a variety of different roles – he was deployed as a central defender in the Club World Cup semi-final, remember – and always done it with aplomb. Do not be surprised if the gong comes his way.”

And away from the midfield, Fenton also reserved some praise for Van Dijk, labelling the Dutchman’s performance one of “utter dominance” that was key to seeing the game through:

“Utter dominance from the towering Dutchman, who opened the scoring with a powerful header, and thwarted many a United attack.

“On a day where Liverpool struggled to kill the game off, Van Dijk was arguably the difference.”

Meanwhile, Stead praised Klopp for the way in which he has navigated the notoriously tricky month of January, praising the Reds for not dropping off in both performance level and results:

“Nothing outlines Liverpool’s progress more than their results in this month in particular. This is already the most games they have won under Klopp in any January, and they have three fixtures left to play.

[…]

“Klopp has learned an awful lot – and taught us plenty more – over four years in this country. How to cope with this ludicrous schedule is his most endearing and enduring lesson.”

 

Members of the media thought the win illustrated the huge gulf between the clubs – on and off the pitch…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's xxxx during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Delaney is in no doubt that the gap between the great rivals is currently the biggest it has been in modern football history:

“Despite the late pressure, it was them that got the late goal, Salah taking advantage of all that space to re-emphasise the huge space between these teams. In the table, and on the pitch.

“It is bigger than it has ever been, at almost any point in the modern history of these teams.”

Neil Jones, writing for Goal, stated that the rivalry will always be there, but it will be “a long time” before the two sides are equals again:

“Manchester United will always be their rivals but, on this evidence, it’ll be a long time before they’re anything like their equals.”

McNulty explained that Liverpool are not just on a different level to United, but every other Premier League team too:

“United now trail Liverpool by 30 points and this is not a gap that flatters Klopp’s men.

“The gulf is not only huge between Liverpool and United. In the Premier League context, it is huge between Liverpool and the rest of the Premier League.”

Burt felt the gulf was reflected by Liverpool not even needing a statement performance to win, and insisted that the chasm is every point as big as the 30-point gap suggests:

“Yes, they created chances and, yes, they hung on in there but before that the gulf between United and Liverpool was as great as that 30-point advantage would suggest.

[…]

“They did not need a statement performance to beat United; they just needed to capitalise on their obvious superiority which they inevitably did by scoring goals at the start and at the end of a fixture which still has the build-up of a heavyweight contest but does not have the balance at present.”

McNulty discussed the biggest differences between the sides currently, putting it down to the contrast in quality of the two managers and recruitment:

“This is where Liverpool are. This is where Manchester United are. The gap is huge. Liverpool have an inspirational manager in Klopp while Solskjaer looks like he is learning on one of the toughest jobs of all.

“Liverpool’s recruitment under Klopp has been almost faultless, signing proven quality in all areas with each individual then being moved on to a different level. United’s recruitment, and for all the questions about whether Solskjaer is up to the job this cannot be laid at his door, has been desperately poor in recent years.”

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