In the annuls of football history you will find various mentions of the phrase “titanic tussle” in reference to two teams battling each other to gain the spoils from the league campaign. Rarely, though, will you find the phrase being applied quite so appropriately than to the current scrap between Liverpool and Manchester City as they both eye the Premier League title.
And Jurgen Klopp’s mighty Reds did their hopes no harm at all last night with a thumping win over already relegated Huddersfield Town at Anfield; a triumph that propelled them back to the top of the pile above City by two points with their rivals having a game in hand. With the tussle in mind, City go to Burnley on Sunday and if they win will leapfrog the Merseyside giants back to the summit — and the lip-smacking rollercoaster of a title fight continues.
Last night it was Liverpool’s turn to set the engines to full power and they did it with pace, energy and no lack of skill as they swept aside the Terriers. The victory came thanks to a brace each for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah after Naby Keita’s early-bird opener in the first minute. Another huge plus point for Liverpool was the first-team return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who came on as a second-half substitute after a year out injured.
As you would expect, Klopp was delighted with the result and the application used to engineer it. He told the club’s official website: “We analysed before the game that these passes, if you can put pressure – you saw the distance of Naby in that situation was pretty big actually, but with two or three really quick steps he was there. I was surprised, so how can the Huddersfield player not be surprised there is somebody?
“Because a second ago nobody was around. It was a brilliant situation of Naby and then the gaps are open. For me, the goal was actually a bit too early. I have no problem with early goals but after all the preparation, all we said about how difficult the game is, I really think the game showed how difficult it could have been if we were not that clinical in the goal scoring situations because Huddersfield did well.
“And after the early goal they did really well; at set-pieces and all that stuff, they were in our half and passing around. We had to defend, because of the early goal, we were always kind of a second too late and we had to close these gaps with hard work. The boys did that, we got the momentum back and then it was our game.
“We played really well, scored wonderful goals, did all the things you have to do against a good but deep-defending side. We scored the goals in the perfect moment: really early, really late and in the middle somewhere. That’s good. The second half, start again, and it was clear Huddersfield are a really proud team that fought for that and didn’t let it happen easily, but we scored wonderful goals and had more chances so it was a brilliant, brilliant night.”
More of the same, please!