By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
T’was a very Merry Christmas indeed!
Another very strong showing from the Reds as they eventually eased away from Newcastle to win very, very comfortably, while title rivals Manchester City stumbled once again at Leicester to increase the gap from four to six over the new closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
We’re exactly halfway through the Premier League season, so it’s still far too early to predict the outcome with another 19 games to go, but Jurgen Klopp’s side are in such a strong position at this point.
You get the feeling that a win over City on January third will send the title race swinging firmly in the Reds’ favour…
Anyway, here’s how the Reds got on as they put the Magpies to the sword on Boxing Day.
Alisson: 7 – Dominant, assured, commanding of his area. Didn’t really have a save to make but there was barely a cross that wasn’t claimed by the Brazilian and his enormous, guitar-stroking hands. Yet another strong performance from Liverpool’s No.1.
Trent: 8 – Missed the last couple of games with injury but looked like he’d never been out of the side. Always happy to get forward and looked to create opportunities when he could. A good performance on his return to the side.
Degsy: 8 – Jesus, what a finish. Stared at him for about three minutes after that goal – just couldn’t believe it was him that had done it. When we’ve got Virgil finishing like a seasoned forward at Molineux and Degsy slapping half-volleys into the top bin at the Kop End, we know we’re in for a special season.
Virg: 8 – Powerful showing as usual, epitomised with 20 minutes to go when, while off-balance, he shrugged-off the challenge of the forward on the halfway line to volley to ball perfectly into a teammate 25 yards away, on a sixpence. Can do no wrong, and is yet to do so after a year of wearing the Red of Liverpool. What a Christmas present he was in 2017.
Robbo: 8.5 (off 82′ for Clyne) – Nothing new to say really. Ran up and down that left wing all afternoon long without showing even a hint of fatigue and put some really dangerous crosses into the area – one of which led to the opening goal. ‘Mr Consistent’ at left back, something that Liverpool haven’t had in years.
Hendo: 8 – Don’t remember the skipper losing an aerial duel and put in another impressive overall performance. Got on the ball a lot and was key in the midfield engine room today. Key to winning the ball back also and deputised superbly for Fabinho in a position that Henderson doesn’t always look 100% comfortable. Has improved no end in recent weeks after a dip in form.
Gini (off 62′ for Fabinho): 6.5 – Felt like most of the play passed him by in midfield, but that’s nothing unusual with Wijnaldum. What he did do was tidy, didn’t put a foot wrong. An efficient performance, shall we say.
Shaq: 9 – Impact sub my arse – the Reds’ best player on Boxing Day, in my opinion. Loved the quick thinking to give the short corner early to Robbo to lead to the first goal, and was unlucky not to double the lead with a superb free kick that was well saved by Martin Dubravka. Eventually got his goal with 10 to play – after some intense pressure from Liverpool, Hendo’s excellent pass found Trent in behind the full back, who squared to the Swiss for a simple tap-in. As usual, wanted to create something every time he got on the ball, making him such an important asset to this Liverpool side.
Mo: 7 – Won a penno at the start of the second half, scored it emphatically. Job done. Didn’t really do an awful lot else to impact the game, but didn’t need to. The less energy exerted the better, as he will be key for the upcoming clashes with Arsenal and Manchester City.
Bobby (off 69′ for Sturridge): 6 – Been good lately, has Bobby, but felt like he was on his heels a lot today. He seemed a touch off the pace and wasn’t really involved an awful lot. Seen him play better, and I’m sure it’s nothing more than just a blip.
Sadio: 6 – A very average game, really. Full of running but none of it was effective in any real way. Had a chance to redeem himself towards the end when he took down Lovren’s long ball beautifully, but blazed over the bar. Hopefully he was saving his best for the impending visit of Arsenal, but he was very much ineffectual for the most part here.
Fabinho (on 62′ for Wijnaldum): 8 – Came on to help control the midfield and manage to game to its conclusion, which is exactly what he did. Added to that, he stuck his head on Salah’s corner to make it 4-0 and grab his first for the club. Fab’s happy, Rebeca’s happy, we’re all happy. ‘Mon the Reds.
Sturridge (on 69′ for Firmino): 6 – Good record against Newcastle, with seven goals in a dozen appearances against them. Well, make that 13, as he barely even touched the ball here. Had a decent chance with a header at the back post in injury time but was foiled by Dubravka.
Clyne (on 82′ for Robertson): 6 – Came on to give Robbo a well-earned rest with less than 10 to play, and helped to see-out the game and maintain the clean sheet.