If Liverpool’s first-half performance in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City has dealt a psychological blow to their Premier League champions, they will likely face Pep Guardiola’s men again. on Tuesday night.
The Red Devils showed no signs of dismay at their Wembley triumph as they thrashed Manchester United 4-0 at Anfield. “For you, City.”
It was a sweet victory for Liverpool supporters and put their side back at the top of the Premier League table. Apart from the brief interval of an hour or two in recent weeks, Liverpool have rarely been in this position. In fact, you have to go back to the end of September because the only time Liverpool top the table is at the end of a round.
But the hunters – who overcame the massive points shortfall they faced in January – now become the hunted for at least the next 24 hours, with focus shifting to Man City and Can they get a home win over Brighton on Wednesday night to propel them back to the front of the title race?
It will not be an easy task – just ask Arsenal and Tottenham, whom Brighton have beaten in head-to-head matches – and the extent to which City have recovered physically and mentally from the weekend (and grueling Champions League match against Atletico Madrid) will be fascinating to watch.
City and Liverpool have been engaged in an incredible number of battles for the Premier League title in recent seasons, raising the bar to the point that neither team dares to ignore it.
But now City have to play catch-up – and the pressure is on.
Things have hardly gone badly for Liverpool in recent weeks. Currently, they are 9 matches unbeaten in all competitions and 13 games unbeaten in the tournament as they are still chasing an unprecedented four-hero match.
However, a lot of talk has focused on Mohamed Salah’s form.
The Egyptian had not scored in eight games before scoring twice against Man Utd, and questions are being raised with Jurgen Klopp, who recently rested him against Benfica in the Champions League .
All the doubts surrounding Salah have certainly been put to bed against United as he returns to the scoreboard and looks a lot like his older self, which has Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher very excited about the run. into the season.
He said: “What makes me believe this can be a really special season is the performance in the last two games. Liverpool in the last eight to ten games have done the job, a great quality. Great must have, but tonight I feel like full of energy again.
“With Mo Salah back too, it’s not just the goals, it’s the sharpness, the energy. That’s what he’s struggled with, it’s not just the goals, he hasn’t. seeing myself in the games. If Liverpool can keep that up between now and the end of the season. That gives me real confidence that it can be a really special season.”
After his brace, Salah became the first player in Premier League history to score five goals against Manchester United in a single campaign. He is also only the second player to score and assist in Premier League home and away games against United in a single season, after Mesut Ozil in the 2015-16 season.
Despite his recent dry spell in front of goal, his two goals at Anfield have brought his tally for the season to 22, extending the top of the scoring charts. Premier League goals up 5 goals compared to Heung-Min Son. Crisis? What crisis?
And if this is the beginning of another fruitful story in front of Salah’s goal, it could turn Liverpool into history-makers.
Klopp spoke of it as a meeting between two of England’s biggest teams and it felt like that big game was going right up to the start when the reality became clear. Liverpool played at a pace that United could not understand let alone deal with.
Their trajectory feels very different as they chase an unprecedented quartet that will not only put their opponents in the shade but also overshadow Manchester United’s historic stellar record. . How can the distance between the two be so great?
Thiago Alcantara is considered the best on this field, but no one in a United shirt comes close. Luis Diaz, the latest discovery, was filled with urgency from the start. In contrast, Marcus Rashford was used by Virgil van Dijk to control the ball very early and was almost never seen again.
Alisson summed up confidence levels in contrast to a Cruyff turn. Moments later, David de Gea hesitated when the Brazilian was sure to come on. That led to the opening goal and Ralf Rangnick’s plan to contain and disappoint was in tatters.
Has a supposedly top team ever played with this little belief?
While it still seems surprising that two teams with similar salaries have been able to deliver such contrasting performances, it’s no mystery why. This is the product of the perfect plan at Liverpool, which United have yet to execute.
Perhaps the arrival of Erik ten Hag will mark a big change at Old Trafford. If the Dutchman is given time and trust, his performance thus far suggests that his employers will be rewarded. But that is for the future. The verdict is here and now at Anfield.
This is a wasted season.
Where do you start with Manchester United? Is it the owner, the board, the manager or the player? One thing’s for sure, it’s not the fans.
United’s away support has supported their side at Anfield in the only way they know how, despite watching a team – a club – become a shell of its former self, vilified by the Their great opponents humiliated. A penny for the thoughts of one of their biggest supporters, Sir Alex Ferguson, who witnessed the latest disaster from above in the stands. This is not the legacy he imagined.
Former United legend and Sky Sports’ Roy Keane called it “sad” while Gary Neville described the club as “broken” as Liverpool showed their class and exposed grim reality for United. , the team has fallen a gap since finishing second last season.
“It was a sober evening,” Neville said. “We expected it. Not a single Man Utd fan came here with any hope. That team had nothing.
“I can’t explain how it went from what would have been a bit promising at the end of the season to finishing in second place – I know they lost the Europa League final, a terrible game – to the point where we are today low in 42 years of watching United. I’ve never seen it as bad.”
This is a club that spent more than £100 million last summer, re-signing legend Cristiano Ronaldo and are hoping to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City.
Now it’s a meeting with an interim manager, a protracted appointment with a manager, and a collection of uninterested, unmotivated and uninterested players. With five games left of the season, it could even get worse.