The good, the bad & time to believe – Debating Liverpool 2-0 Man United

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Liverpool sent out another statement to the rest of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Man United on Sunday evening.

Jurgen Klopp’s side might have made life harder than it needed to be after missing a flurry of chances in either half, but goals to Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool’s stunning run continued.

The Reds were the dominant side throughout and have now opened up a 30-point gap on Man United after just 22 games.

With further slip-ups from Man City and Leicester, the Reds’ lead atop of the table has been extended to 16 and 19 points respectively, and the end goal is now certainly in sight.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Jay (@jaytothelo) and Amit (@LFC_Amit) to delve into the positives and negatives from the victory and discuss if the words we have all wanted to hear and say are now inevitable.

 

The good…

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)

Jay: We dominated and turned the style on at points throughout.

Our energy is incredible and Gini and Hendo are not talked about enough.

The Salah goal and the scenes on the Kop are up there with the best I’ve been in. Limbs flying, random people hugging…the odd tear of joy and then “we’re gonna win the league” ringing around the Kop.

Incredible.

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

Amit: It does not get much better than a win and a clean sheet against your rivals to go 16 points clear with a game in hand!

The feeling on the way to the match, as well as in the pub pre-match, was the same amongst us all, “we’ll beat this lot.”

The noise inside the ground was electric and it echoed down to the players. It took us a few minutes to get going, but once Liverpool started their usual passing and pressing game, they never really looked back.

Van Dijk, not for the first time this season, was head and shoulders above the opposition and continues to make a mockery of his £75 million price tag.

Both Virgil and Mo will get the headlines and the stats behind this win, but for me, the game was won in the middle of the park. Henderson and Wijnaldum were outstanding, the way they press and their desire to win the ball back sets the tempo for this fantastic Liverpool side.

Also, I’ve watched Alisson’s assist and celebration 50 times this morning and I’m still not bored of it. What a guy!

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)

Joanna: This team is just truly special in every single way.

But the first nod has to go to Henderson who was absolutely magnificent all night long and I wouldn’t dare disagree with anyone should they tell me he had covered every blade of grass last night.

Creatively on point, work rate out of this world and his leadership cannot be questioned. And as Amit noted, Gini was, of course, there to join in on the fun in midfield and keep us ticking along.

Unlike the guys, I was at home watching on but as soon as you heard the chant ring around the game it was certainly the most emotional I’ve felt about this run as the implications of everything we have achieved so far hit me.

And apologies to Alisson, I had screamed at him to hold the ball before he unleashed that monster of an assist but it’s created a moment that will stand the test of time.

 

The bad…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (R) challenges Manchester United's goalkeeper David de Gea during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jay: Man United. They’re dreadful.

Also, the touts. This is looking to be an iconic season and there’s plenty of good match-going fans they’re depriving of moments that no TV screen can replicate.

Amit: There can’t be too many complaints when you’ve just beaten Man United and you’re top of the league, but it’s hard to not be critical of VAR.

How was Firmino’s goal disallowed? Van Dijk jumped cleanly for the ball, no arms in sight, and still overturned. Clear and obvious error? You’ll struggle to find many who think that was a foul.

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

Joanna: Can’t disagree with Amit there as I still cannot get my head around why those in charge of VAR overturned the decision on Firmino’s goal.

I understand that usually contact on a ‘keeper is likely to result in a free-kick, but Van Dijk was making an honest attempt at the ball and it is not his fault De Gea could not effectively take control of the situation.

With the on-field referee giving the all-clear how does VAR then overturn such a decision when it is not a ‘clear and obvious’ error, or even encourage Craig Pawson to view the replays as we clearly had two opposing views.

Aside from that, all the missed chances were certainly frustrating when the result was still in the balance – we’ve done that quite a lot this season and it’s not good for anyone’s health.

 

And is it time to truly believe and to revel in the fact that the league title is Anfield bound?

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)

Jay: People believe now. I silently believed but was not wanting to admit it.

The Kop singing “we’re gonna win the league” after Salah scored was the perfect timing. It was emotional.

Now everyone please enjoy the ride and get us through the end. Embrace these moments whilst we can. Hug those strangers you see on the Kop every week. It’s happening.

Amit: Liverpool need 30 points if Man City win their last 15 games. That’s either 10 wins, 9 wins and 3 draws, or 8 wins and 6 draws. If it’s not Anfield bound yet, surely it’s only a matter of time.

The Kop, in jubilation after Salah’s goal, chanted “and now you’re gonna believe us,” and the doubters have turned to believers but I won’t be saying “it’s over” until it’s mathematically won.

However, every fan of this football club will appreciate what a fantastic team we are watching at the moment and we should really enjoy watching Jurgen’s men for the next few months!

Joanna: I think any other fan of any other club would have been left with the feeling that it was all over a long time ago.

But as we know, we never do it the easy way and we have been in similar positions before and have been left with our heads in our hands.

I haven’t dared say the words before the win over United and, while I still can’t visualise Hendo giving the Premier League trophy the shuffle treatment, it’s definitely starting to sink in.

There’s no doubt there are still a lot of games left to be played but at our current pace and those near us continually dropping points, the end goal is edging closer and closer every week.

And so yes, it is time to revel in it all and to soak up this incredible side – it’s on its way.

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