Liverpool have taken one step closer to the Champions League after they managed to beat West Brom thanks to a single Roberto Firmino goal.
It wasn’t the most exciting game to watch, but the Reds dug in and showed that they have the right to supplement their undoubted quality in the final third.
They have made sure that a healthy gap remains between them and the chasing pack, which is crucial at this stage of the season.
Here are three things that we learnt at the Hawthorns…
Jurgen Klopp’s side have real fighting spirit
They have been excellent to watch this season, but there have been doubts about the team’s ability to dig in and grind out results.
Although they have managed to sustain an impressive record against the rest of the top six, they have been fallible in matches against teams lower down the table.
Defeats against Leicester City and Hull City set them back in their title chase, but they weren’t going to be beaten on Sunday afternoon.
They completed 21 tackles and 18 interceptions, which was more than their opposition. This is very impressive, considering that they also dominated possession with nearly 64%.
This was an important win for Liverpool as they continue to lead the way ahead of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. The matches in hand that the other teams have are a massive advantage and mean that the Reds can’t rest easily.
All they can do is win the matches that they have to play and hope to get enough points.
They are in a strong position and they will be confident of seeing out the season in the top four. However, this performance underlines the determination and desire to get the team over the line.
West Brom are on the beach
The Baggies have had a superb season and are currently in 8th position in the league table. However, there will be a lot of disappointment around the Hawthorns that the side haven’t pushed on after reaching 40 points.
They have only taken four points from their last five matches and they aren’t playing with the same desire that they showed earlier in the season.
This is a common characteristic that Tony Pulis’ sides have shown down the years and it won’t be surprising that it is happening to West Brom again this season.
They completed less than half of their attempted tackles and won only 22 of the 45 aerial duels. These are normally areas that the Baggies will dominate, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday afternoon.
The entire team under-performed and it will be a concern for supporters heading into the final few matches.
With five matches to go, they have the opportunity to finish in the top eight of the Premier League and that should be enough motivation for the players.
Lucas Leiva won’t be short of offers in the summer
The Brazilian is unlikely to remain at Anfield next year as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season.
He has been a bit-part player since Jurgen Klopp took over at the club, but he has been asked to come in during recent weeks in the absences of Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana. T
he midfielder has done well and deserves credit for his performance against West Brom in particular.
Throughout the match, he completed four ball recoveries and won three aerial duels, making a few key contributions to ensure his side kept their clean sheet in tact.
It was his role in the goal that was most important to this match’s outcome as he got the assist for Roberto Firmino.
The goal came as a result of an excellently-worked set piece, as Lucas won the knock on for Firmino to slot home. It was even more impressive as it came against West Brom, a side known for their ability from set pieces.
If he does leave Anfield as expected this summer, there will be a number of teams interested, especially after his performances over the last few weeks.
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Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
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