Liverpool’s victory over Manchester United this evening saw the stellar performance of one Reds star fly largely under the radar…
Liverpool host United
English football’s two biggest clubs went head-to-head at Anfield a short time ago, in a high-profile Premier League clash.
Hosts Liverpool of course entered the matchup amid a historic spell of form, which had seen the Reds open up a 13-point gap atop England’s top-flight, with two games to spare.
Jurgen Klopp’s men had dropped just 2 points all season before today.
Significantly, though, these dropped points came in a meeting with their opponents this evening, at Old Trafford, back in October.
After Marcus Rashford had given Manchester United a first-half lead, Liverpool required a late equaliser courtesy of substitute Adam Lallana to secure a share of the spoils.
Van Dijk & Salah on target
When all was said and done on Merseyside this time out, though, the European champions made no mistake.
The Reds’ opener came with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock, when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s typically-pinpoint corner from the right was met by the arriving Virgil van Dijk, who nodded home beyond David de Gea with ease.
⚽️ All 4 of Virgil Van Dijk’s PL goals this season have been headers – only Chris Wood (5) has scored more pic.twitter.com/4twfGmf7KF
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 19, 2020
United will no doubt be hugely-disappointed with the nature of the goal when analysing their defeat over the days to come, as the Red Devils’ zonal marking setup saw Brandon Williams left in a mismatch with the much bigger van Dijk.
However, despite both sides, particularly Liverpool, having carved out numerous clear-cut chances over the remaining hour+, with just minutes remaining in the clash, one goal remained all that separated the hosts and a game United.
This was until Mohamed Salah wrapped up yet another 3-point haul for Jurgen Klopp’s men with essentially the last kick of the game.
After being picked out by goalkeeper Alisson on the break, the Egyptian attacker surged clear of the Red Devils’ backline, before slotting coolly beneath the helpless David de Gea.
“Mo Salah you little dancer.”
Mo Salah’s first goal against Manchester United sends Liverpool 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 19, 2020
As such, on the back of their staggering 21st win from 22 Premier League outings to this point in the season, the majority of the headlines with regards to Liverpool are no doubt set to surround the exploits of star men van Dijk and Salah.
Others could point to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fine delivery and latest assist, while the every-lively Jordan Henderson was awarded Sky Sports’ Man of the Match award.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 19, 2020
As outlined above, though, the stellar display of one Liverpool star versus United, as his performances so often appear to, has gone largely under the radar.
The individual in question? Georginio Wijnaldum.
Dutch international Wijnaldum was in absolutely irresistible form throughout the 90 minutes at Anfield, living up to his ‘big-game’ mantle once again.
While midfield partner Henderson’s passing and reading of the game were undoubtedly on point, it was Wijnaldum who time and time again linked Liverpool’s engine room with the club’s lethal front-line, cleverly picking up pockets of space between the lines.
The 29-year-old was also superb in possession, jinking by Manchester United’s defenders at will with his combination of technique and athleticism, combining with Sadio Mane to fine effect, and even seeing a first-half goal chalked off due to the narrowest of offside calls.
What made Wijnaldum’s showing such a complete one, though, was, above all, his desire.
The Dutchman simply never stopped running from start to finish this evening, throwing himself into challenges, harassing his United counterparts, and displaying the type of hunger that has been key to catapulting Liverpool from nearly-men to the Premier League’s dominant force this season.
While the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are undoubtedly key to the Reds’ fortunes, no one player more perfectly embodies everything so very right about Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool than Gini Wijnaldum.