Sunday Mirror

Reds are top of the ta­ble again... and in Salah they are blessed with summit spe­cial

- @andy­dun­n­mir­ror ANDY DUNN Bri­tain’s best colum­nist at An­field Sports · Soccer · Liverpool Football Club · Liverpool · Anfield · Jürgen Klopp · Diogo Jota · David Villa · Mohamed Salah · Joe Gomez · West Ham United F.C. · Villa Park · Xherdan Shaqiri · Goodison Park · Arthur Masuaku · Pablo Fornals · Jarrod Bowen

THIS is why they are cham­pi­ons, this is why, more than likely, they will be cham­pi­ons again.

This is why they are top of the ta­ble. Again.

There has al­ready been one spec­tac­u­lar blip this sea­son but this re­mains a Liver­pool team that re­fuses to ac­cept any­thing other than vic­tory. It re­ally is as sim­ple as that.

That blip came at Villa Park but the pa­tience and re­solve shown at An­field in their past three Premier League matches shows why Jur­gen Klopp’s team have to be favourites to se­cure an­other ti­tle.

In each of those games, they have gone be­hind. In each of those games, they have found a way to come back and tri­umph.

A bril­liant pass from one sub­sti­tute to an­other, Xher­dan Shaqiri to Diogo Jota, and an em­phatic fin­ish was the way they found here.

But how­ever it ar­rives, you pretty much know it is com­ing.

They might be search­ing for an ex­tra bit of flair, they might be vul­ner­a­ble, but they re­main re­lent­less.

There was the seven- goal aber­ra­tion against Villa but even in the draw at Good­i­son Park, they thought they had won it at the death.

One way or an­other, they never stop. And one way of find­ing their way back into a game is of­ten through the me­nace of Mo­hamed Salah.

He shot to the ground as though he had just been taz­ered rather than had his foot gen­tly clipped by Arthur Ma­suaku.

No-one hits the deck quite like Salah. No-one hits from the penalty spot quite like Salah. He is 13 from his last 13. While Ma­suaku’s of­fence which al­lowed Liver­pool to can­cel out Pablo For­nals’ early strike WAS a penalty of­fence, Salah’s the­atrics were not con­sis­tent with the con­tact.

But if that is what it takes for a ref­eree to recog­nise a crime then Salah will feel jus­ti­fied. Af­ter all, had he stayed on his feet, the chances are that Kevin Friend would not have pe­nalised Ma­suaku. In fact, you know he would not have.

And the bot­tom line is Salah makes things hap­pen. He has made things hap­pen from the day he walked through the An­field door.

He cre­ates panic, smug­gles him­self into the un­like­li­est of gaps, and has a thun­der­ous snap­shot.

And that cov­ers only a frac­tion of his all-round game.

He was not at his most thrilling here but still ra­di­ated threat. And with op­tions such

as Shaqiri and Jota, Klopp ( be­low) will be de­lighted with his at­tack­ing choices.

He might be a lit­tle more con­cerned with his de­fence.

Those con­cerns are not just limited to phys­i­cal l well well­be­ing. Joe Gomez is s fit and healthy but ut looks a lit­tle short t of con­fi­dence.

Some­times, he looks like a full­back play­ing at cen­tre-back.

This was one of f those mo­ments.

While Ma­suaku’s cross was a decent one, it should have been dis­patched from dan­ger as a mat­ter of rou­tine. In­stead, Gomez’s header was a gold­plated as­sist for For­nals who had an age to craft a pre­cise fin­ish.

That type of de­fend­ing has been ty typ­i­cal of Liver­pool for aw a while.

Since the day Klopp’s team were con­firmed as cham­pi­ons, no Premier League team has con­ceded more g goals – and Vir­gil van Dij Dijk was around for a good chunk c of that time. Per­haps Liv er p o o l ’ s vul­ner­a­bil­ity has not just been down to in­con­sis­ten­cies in the back four. You sus­pect Klopp would pay good money for the type of mid­field pro­tec­tion De­clan Rice gives West Ham.

Liver­pool were not ter­ri­bly ex­posed but had For­nals not scan­dalously ig­nored Jar­rod Bowen, they could have been fac­ing a rare An­field re­verse.

In­stead, af­ter VAR and Friend’s view­ing of a mon­i­tor had rightly can­celled out Jota’s first ef­fort, up stepped the sub­sti­tute to can­ter through the West Ham de­fence and se­cure yet an­other Premier League win at An­field.

An in­spired sub­sti­tu­tion, and Liver­pool and Klopp had found an­other way to win.


JOT SHOT Diogo Jota cel­e­brates scor­ing the win­ner against West Ham

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