I suppose i am greedy but i am left wanting more after we romped to a 2-0 victory over a poor Man Utd at Anfield in the first leg of the Europa League Quarterfinal. Because at 2-0 the tie is still pretty much in the balance and it is going to be hugely significant who scores the first goal in the second leg. If we get a goal at Old Trafford first then their morale will hit rock bottom because they know they are going out unless they can hit four goals without us replying. But if Man Utd somehow scores first then it will become all very nervous for us especially at the back. Although to be fair the M Sakho and D Lovren partnership at centerback is really starting to look pretty solid. A shoutout here for Lovren too who has been keeping things simple at the back. How he has turned his Liverpool career around under J Klopp. Furthermore we were utterly dominant and if not for D De Gea (as usual) we could have won by a lot more.
And it was really Liverpool 2 – 0 De Gea because no other Man Utd player turned up. What a fantastic keeper De Gea is. That is at least 10 points in a season for you right there with him between the posts. At the 23rd minute having been wrong footed by a cross, De Gea dived back to his right and still managed to deny P Coutinho a seemingly open goal tap-in. A couple of minutes later, De Gea saved C Smalling his blushes after rushing out of goal and making himself really big to save D Sturridge’s volley after Smalling had misjudged a R Firmino cross from the right. To top it all off, and the best save of the game, a fantastic reflex save to keep out a point blank range effort by A Lallana who did well to get in front of the Man Utd centerback to connect with another Firmino cross. If only we had a keeper as good as De Gea. We would surely be in the top four every season.
On the 15th minute mark there was a loose ball in midfield and instead of going in quick to win it A Moreno tracked back instead and M Rashford had time to get the ball under control. Immediately Klopp jumped out of his seat and bellowed at Moreno (and you could hear the crowd shouting too at that moment) and that was our gameplan in a nutshell. Man Utd never had any time on the ball and their first shot on goal was a long shot by M Schneiderlin at the 50th minute. They just could not handle our energetic pressing. Firmino, Lallana, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Clyne, Moreno, and i can still go on.
As i’ve moaned before i don’t understand the stuttering run-up before a penalty really. Sturridge did it against Man Utd and De Gea didn’t sell himself to either side. Thankfully Sturridge hit it well enough to nestle the ball into the far corner. But not before De Gea got his fingers to it. What i liked on the other-hand was how all the Liverpool players ran to congratulate Sturridge while his celebration was muted at best. No Sturridge dance. Just an angry face for the doubters. As Klopp said, we’ve got to stay angry and Sturridge must be seething inside with the criticisms thrown at him because of his injuries this season. What’s the big deal with scoring a penalty? He knows he has a lot more to offer and he is still far away from his peak. He will celebrate when he has proved all his doubters wrong. He will celebrate when he has shown that he is right up there with the best of them as a striker. Stay angry Sturridge. Stay very angry!
And to end off, what an impressive performance by our German manager. The way he set the team out to play. The well thought out plan to rest Sturridge for the previous two games to keep him fresh for this “mother of all games“. The substituiting of J Allen for Sturridge when he saw that Man Utd was slowly getting back into the game after M Carrick was introduced to help keep possession in the second half. Allen did really well when he came on and having one more body in midfield allowed us to wrest back control of the game. Putting D Origi on at the 84th minute was also very effective. We immediately played a couple of long balls down the flanks for Origi to chase against Carrick and won possession a couple of times this way. A clear mismatch of pace, Origi thus kept Man Utd pegged back in their half as they were worried about a third goal. The best always turns up for the big games.
So let’s go to Old Trafford and beat them on their own ground!