LIVERPOOL 6-0 LEEDS UNITED: MATCH REVIEW
Liverpool trounced Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United 6-0 at Anfield on Wednesday night in their rearranged Boxing Day fixture. The victory moved Jürgen Klopp’s side to within 3 points of table topping Manchester City. Here’s a review of the game.
You can find player ratings from the match here:
° Lineup. There were five changes to the side that beat Norwich City at Anfield last weekend. The quintet of Trent, Robbo, Fabinho, Thiago and Jones returned to the lineup in place of Gomez, Tsimikas, Henderson, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain respectively.
° Slow start. The Reds suffered a slow start to the game with several loose passes and touches encouraging a Leeds side battling relegation. For the first ten minutes the visitors looked dangerous, with Daniel James almost embarrassing Alisson after the Brazilian had dallied on a clearance.
° Liverpool explode into life. The hosts clicked through the gears and swiftly set about the task of cutting Leeds to shreds. By the 35th minute they were 3-0 up! Two penalties by Salah and an emphatic Matip finish had seen them race clear.
° Matip’s mazy runs. The goal was just reward for Joel who has been threatening to do that all season. His ball carrying ability is impressive for a centre back and when Salah found him with a perfectly weighted pass through Firpo’s legs, Matip wasn’t going to miss his chance. Well deserved goal.
° Irrepressible Reds. After the first ten minutes Liverpool were simply amazing. They flew forward and opened Leeds up on so many occasions. 3-0 at halftime could well have been 6-0, with Salah seeing an effort cleared off the line, Fabinho missing a sitter and Diaz and Jones both going close.
° That was quite possibly the best bit of football Liverpool have played all season. Leeds couldn’t live with them. The movement, the passing, the quality, just pure class. When this team plays like that, they are unstoppable.
° Sheer dominance. Klopp’s side didn’t let up in the second half either. They didn’t relent their grip on the game as they controlled proceedings. Leeds were limited to just three attempts all game, with their first shot not arriving till well over the hour mark.
° Thiago excellent again. The Spanish schemer was at it again on Wednesday night as he imprinted delicate strokes on the canvas of the game. Liverpool have won all 13 games he’s started this season and that’s no coincidence.
His importance to the side can’t be underestimated. He was taken off after 68 minutes with one eye on Sunday. Keeping him fit will be key to the side’s ambitions. Jürgen Klopp will hope his artist is ready to paint the way to another victory, this time in the Carabao Cup final.
° Late flurry. Liverpool had scored more goals (14) in the last 15 minutes of games than any other PL team this season. The Reds added three late goals to the tally (making it 17), with Mané helping himself to a poacher’s brace. Van Dijk then powered a header home with virtually the last kick of the game.
° Delightful Diaz. The Colombian was lively as he drove down the right wing at will at times. Ayling couldn’t get near him first half, so much so that Bielsa had to bring Shackleton on at right back to try and deal with him. No goal or assist but Diaz was one of the best players on a pitch filled with them. Surely he starts in the final!
Luis Diaz vs Leeds:
• 100% aeriel duels won
• 91% pass accuracy
• 69 touches
• 47 passes attempted
• 43 passes completed
• 10 duels won (=1st)
• 8 attempted dribbles (1st)
• 6 successful dribbles (2nd)
• 6 ball recoveries
• 4 shots attempted (2nd)
• 3 aeriel duels won (1st)
• 2 chances created
• 1 block
° Mané down the middle. For the second game running, Sadio started in the central striking role in the absence of Jota and Firmino. He’s adapting to the position as he learns he’s got less time on the ball than when he plays out wide. The brace will keep his confidence high and he’s likely to line up through the middle in the final.
° Sensational Salah. Mo is a special player and he’s enjoying another special season. He was extraterrestrial on Wednesday night. His vision and passing range would make the best number 10s proud. He slipped Matip in for his goal and also released Sadio to win the second penalty.
His reverse pass to Henderson in the lead up to Mané’s first goal was jaw dropping. He’s a man at the peak of his powers right now and long may it continue. A brace of penalties saw him increase his tally to 19 goals and 10 assists, both league leading figures. Unreal.
° Title race well and truly on. Three points now separate Liverpool and City. In the space of a few days, the title race is suddenly back on. The Reds have now won 6 league games (9 in all competitions) in a row, with confidence coursing through the veins on Merseyside.
° A statement of intent. All eyes were on Anfield as Klopp’s side sought to cut down the gap with their game in hand. They did that and then some. The 6-0 thrashing not only sent a warning to Pep Guardiola’s City, it also boosted their goal difference.
° What next? The title race will be parked to one side for a few days as the focus switches to the Carabao Cup final. Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea await at Wembley on Sunday for the first piece of domestic silverware this season. What an occasion it promises to be.