Liverpool seven Man United nil. Liverpool seven Man United nil. Liverpool seven Man United nil. Liverpool seven Man United nil!
Liverpool 7-0 Man United
Premier League (25), Anfield
March 4, 2023
Goals: Gakpo 43′ 50′, Nunez 47′ 76′, Salah 66′ 83′, Firmino 88′
Three lines, three changes
Nobody would have been surprised by the return to the lineup of Jordan Henderson, despite the captain’s dismal form across the campaign.
However, it was a bit of a turn of events to see him come in for Stefan Bajcetic, the Reds’ most consistent midfielder in the past few weeks and certainly one of the more impressive performers across the board.
However, it was Bajcetic who was left out, with Harvey Elliott rewarded for an industrious and attack-minded outing against Wolves by staying in the side as the right-sided, more adventurous runner.
He provided an assist and was again much-improved on showings around the turn of the year.
As for the captain, his closing down in the attacking half was better, his distance passing was fine when it was actually a pass rather than a lofted, aimless whack and he made a couple of recovery runs to pick off counters, too.
Ahead of the midfield, Cody Gakpo‘s return was also expected – Diogo Jota still searching for peak fitness – and Andy Robertson was the easiest call of all at left-back, despite a decent night’s work from Kostas Tsimikas in midweek.
Fair to say, all of Klopp’s picks worked out nicely this time!
As Bobby departs, Cody announces his arrival
The midweek news – win over Wolves aside – for Liverpool was all about Roberto Firmino confirming he’ll be leaving in the summer.
It’ll be a bit of a farewell tour for him for the rest of the campaign, and perhaps he’ll have one more big moment to give us before an Anfield exit – and by that we mean something more meaningful than the seventh against this shower!
But already Jurgen Klopp has turned to the future, with January arrival Gakpo playing a regular role through the middle of the pitch, rather than from the left as was expected when he signed.
Against United, he once more started as the nominal No. 9, but his big impact came from the flank.
A signature move at PSV saw the Dutchman pick up play in the channel, cut inside a defender and beat the ‘keeper with a bending shot into the far corner – the inverse Salah if you like, and a big glimpse of why he had such a good strike rate playing in the Eredivisie.
That was goal number one to a tee.
But his second was pure confidence and quality. Just outside his own area he showed control and composure in the pass, then made up 70 yards to get on the end of Salah’s pass and scoop a delicious finish past De Gea.
That’s four goals in the last five league games now for Gakpo, having earlier netted against Everton and Newcastle in February, a very decent recent return after a slow start in a bad team.
Add in his link play, clever running in deep areas and the amount of trouble he gave some of the United defenders and this was his best showing in red by a mile.
Big game, big performance
It has not always been the case this season, but Liverpool have more recently lifted their performance level – energy and technical quality – when it has been a big fixture.
Newcastle was big in the context of the table, and the performance on the ball was a lot better. Against Real, despite the eventual battering, we came out confident and determined to play and looked very good for a spell.
And now, against United, we again showed the positive mentality which should come as standard for a team as capable and as successful as this one.
We can naturally say that United contributed to a lot of their own downfall. The embarrassing performances of a handful were a total disgrace, Bruno Fernandes top of that pile.
But Liverpool’s players were at it from the get-go here and it should surely only increase the self-belief to play this way not just in the biggest of matches, but in the mundane, the every week, the grind.
It’s against the likes of Leeds and Forest, teams we failed to beat earlier in the season, where we now need the Reds to take a step up and perform in the same manner.
Salah back at his best
Mohamed Salah needed to prove himself to nobody, but he needed more service – just as the team needed him to step up and find his best form.
Against United, we saw a reminder of why. He was untouchable. The defence couldn’t get near him on the ball and couldn’t track him off it.
Two goals, both well taken and the first an absolute thumper, make it 22 goals in all competitions for the season and double figures in the league.
More pertinently, it means now Liverpool’s record goalscorer in the Premier League after scoring 129 times since joining the Reds in 2017.
Oh, and he added a couple of assists too. Let’s have more of that, Mo.
Three points off fourth
Somehow, incredibly, Liverpool – after the season we’ve had and the performances we’ve put in – are now just three points off Spurs in fourth.
We sit fifth, with a game in hand on Antonio Conte’s team, with Fulham, Brighton and Newcastle all just behind us on either goal difference or points.
We’re only six off United too for what that’s worth – and our goal difference has been given a massive boost too.
There’s still a huge battle to come and consistency will be everything for the Reds.
But no more can be asked of Klopp’s side than what they gave today – except to do it again. And again. And again.
We’ve reminded ourselves we’re capable, now we simply must get back to doing it on a consistent basis.