If you’re not on the Mohamed Salah train, too bad, because it left the station today.
The Premier League’s MVP was at it again, coming to Liverpool’s rescue with two second-half goals in a match full of missed chances and opportunities.
What a dreadful start to this game. Joel Matip’s pass to the center of the park was easily won by Vicente Iborra, who took no time finding Riyad Mahrez in the box, who squared a nice pass to a running Jamie Vardy to give the Foxes a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the match. A true punch in the face. Virgil van Dijk and January 1st couldn’t come sooner. 1-0 Foxes.
Liverpool then struggled to get anything going. Both teams exchanged chances, but Liverpool primarily dominated the ball. The Reds kept driving forward, but the shots were either poor or non-threatening. Many times Mohamed Salah was dispossessed, and the Leicester defense stood their ground.
The second half began promising. The Reds applied pressure, and a few tricky passes found Roberto Firmino driving a ball across the box only to be headed away with ease.
Christian Fuchs almost cost the Foxes a penalty when Salah went down in the box, but nothing was given.
Then it came. Like Christmas morning. Sadio Mane played a lovely back heel flick to a darting Salah, and after some patience in the box, placed his shot low and in the corner to level the match for the Reds. Pure elation at Anfield. 1-1 all.
The game then became wide open, the ball moving end to end with action on each side. The offside flag came as a relief to both keepers, negating excellent chances for both Vardy and Mane, who had his effort called back after he got happy feet walking the offside tight rope.
Philippe Coutinho had a go in the 75th minute off a quick transition led by Emre Can, but Kasper the Foxy goalkeeper (there’s something there, right?) found himself in good position to cover up the laser beam off the Brazilian magician’s foot.
But a minute later, Liverpool had it. It was Salah again, this time muscling his way through Harry McGuire, quickly moving into the box and cooly finishing into the lower corner again. Anfield roars again. 2-1 Reds.
Unlike their match against Manchester United a week ago, there was no repeat of the late magic for Leicester, as Liverpool weathered the late game surges and chances from the Foxes to hold on to a hard earned 3 points.
- Salah’s solo effort on the first goal is the epitome of why I love him. Patient with the ball when he has a chance to attack. Yes, you want you’re striker to be aggressive. But the ability to move into the box and time the moment to strike right is by far the best quality, and hardest to find, in a forward.
- Loris Karius got the start in net for the Reds today. He played alright, making some big saves here and there. I love the way he looks comfortable with the ball at his feet. However, with the rumors of Kevin Trapp coming in from PSG, it could spell the end of Karius and/or Simon Mignolet.
- Mahrez and Vardy might still be worth some money. The orchestrators of Leicester’s improbable title two seasons ago proved they are still energetic and can get forward with ease. Wouldn’t be surprised if either moves on this upcoming transfer window, most likely Mahrez. Klopp did praise him before the match….
- Virgil van Dijk’s club-record price shows how serious the Reds are about defense. The Matip blunder today, partnered with the almost-fiasco at the Emirates a week ago show that VvD is going to be the main man in the back when he comes in to the starting XI, which should be soon.
- Liverpool can win these tough matches. Unlike games in the past, the Reds battled back from an early deficit against a stalwart mid-table team to beat them. It’s these kind of results that give fans and all of Red Merseyside hope that this team is not settling for fourth place.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Salah. ‘Nuff said. Two goals and bigger muscles than Harry McGuire. 23 goals in 29 games (all competitions) ain’t bad either. That being said, he did not have a great start to this match. He got owned early on, especially against the likes of Fuchs, McGuire and the formidable Wes Morgan. But his persistence, shiftiness and finishing made him a hero on the day. He was subbed out late in the match with an apparent injury that the medical staff has yet to confirm, so we’ll have to see his status for the next match. But that’s next match. For this match, Salah wears the cape of a hero.
VvD is on his way, and Salah is on fire. It’ll be interesting to see how Liverpool fairs IF the Egyptian striker isn’t available for the next match against Burnley on New Year’s Day.
Hey Pep, watch out. We’re coming for ya.
Oh, I’m just kidding. You guys have Crystal Palace tomorrow. Enjoy the 3 points.
Thanks again, and chat me in the comments.