Liverpool produced another stellar showing in a breathless end to the season, with a 4-0 win over Man United the fruits of a brilliant all-round performance.
Liverpool 4-0 Man United
Premier League (32), Anfield
April 19, 2022
Goals: Diaz 5′, Salah 22′ 85′, Mane 68′
Alisson – 9 (out of 10)
Alisson had such a quiet first half that he tried to make it harder for himself in possession, and when he was called upon as United rallied after half-time, he made two big saves in quick succession.
The concentration of a world-class goalkeeper.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
The way the game was set up, Liverpool’s right-back spent much of the first half in midfield. Were you watching, Gareth Southgate?
With Jadon Sancho providing a genuine threat after the break, Alexander-Arnold was required to do the job many feel he can’t, and he showed his strength, concentration and timing in a big defensive display.
Joel Matip – 8
Given the space in midfield, it was one of those games where Matip was given the license to push forward with his trademark runs – and he was part of the beautiful move that led to Mohamed Salah‘s goal for 2-0.
Defensively, he was as sound as ever.
Ibou Konate may be putting up a big challenge for that starting spot, but Matip is so settled it will be hard to shift him as first choice.
Virgil van Dijk – 8
A cakewalk for our No. 4. Van Dijk breezed through a half-arsed challenge from United’s attack, bodying Marcus Rashford throughout.
That did lead to some moments where he was too casual, and a bollocking from Jurgen Klopp made sure he knew that, but he was soon back to his composed best.
Andy Robertson – 8
When the intensity dropped, there was Robbo to spur Liverpool on.
He may not have been the focal point of the buildup play as he and Alexander-Arnold have so often been under Klopp, but he was still there battling and urging the Reds on while the midfield did the creative work.
Fabinho – 8
Like Van Dijk, it was far too comfortable for Fabinho in midfield.
It would be disrespectful to say the Brazilian phoned it in but, in truth, he had so little to do for much of the game.
Autopilot engaged. Brought off as full-time approached as Klopp continues to manage the minutes of one of his most important players.
Jordan Henderson – 8
In the wake of that blistering midfield display at Wembley, the pressure was on Henderson to step up as he replaced Naby Keita in the side.
The captain did just that, providing the energy and incision as he interchanged with Alexander-Arnold and Salah on the right flank, exploiting an awfully constructed United defence.
When the tempo unravelled slightly, Henderson was one of the more controlled performers, too. A few loose passes, as ever, but a strong showing overall.
Thiago – 10 (Man of the Match)
One of the best performances Thiago has produced in a Liverpool shirt. Inventive and economical on the ball, fiery and relentless in winning it back. A maestro, only stopped by a hamstring concern.
Remember when Didi Hamann said he wouldn’t fit in?
Mohamed Salah – 9
The relief was palpable as Salah ended his goal drought, but the performance was as bright as it has been even when they weren’t flowing.
He found space, he connected, he committed defenders and he tracked back with the hunger that has brought him to the top. And this time, there was nothing missing.
Those two goals could be the start of another unstoppable run at the perfect time.
Luis Diaz – 8
Liverpool could not have found a more like-for-like successor to Sadio Mane than Diaz; a livewire capable of shifting across the entire front line, dazzling on the ball and tireless off it.
Diogo Jota may have been expected to start on the left, but the decision to retain the No. 23 was vindicated with a sumptuous display that saw him end with a goal and assist.
Sadio Mane – 9
His replacement on the left may already be a go-to starter, but Mane is far from over the hill – in fact, Diaz’s arrival has spurred Sadio on in a new role up front.
The pass for Salah’s goal was sublime, his finish for the third effortless and his all-round play a joy to watch.
Diogo Jota (on for Diaz, 70′) – 8
Always going to stand out less in a game where Liverpool don’t need that clutch moment, but the pass for Salah’s brace showed there’s more to Jota than goals.
Needed to ease the burden on Thiago, who was brought off as a precaution, Keita slotted in well enough within the midfield.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Konate, Tsimikas, Jones, Origi
Jurgen Klopp – 10
It was a big call from Klopp to only make two changes to his side three days after the FA Cup semi-final, but despite United’s lack of quality, this was a game needing a statement performance.
And how he was rewarded.
A blistering display in keeping with that first half at Wembley, but without the dropoff after the interval. He used his voice when needed to restore the intensity, and used his bench to stay in control.
The result saw Liverpool go top, at least briefly, but the significance may be even greater than that.