Perfect time for Reds to show who is boss


Salah will be out to torment Man Utd’s defence tomorrow at Anfield. — AP

IT would be an understatement to say that Liverpool’s recent form in the Premier League has not been worrisome.

The Jekyll-and-Hyde-side of Liverpool has reared its ugly head once again with erratic results and the top-of-the-table clash against Man Utd at Anfield could not have come at a worse time.

Compared to Liverpool, Man Utd’s form has been better, slugging out wins when it matters and picking up 13 points in their last five league matches.

Liverpool, on the other hand, only managed eight points and will go into the match as the underdogs courtesy of the bitter rivals being in top spot.

The inexplicable sudden loss of form and confidence in some players is bizarre, especially after the 7-0 hammering of Crystal Palace last month.

After the win, one would expect the team to come out with all guns blazing against West Brom, only for the game to end in a 1-1 draw.

It was then followed by the 0-0 draw against Newcastle and the morale-sapping 1-0 loss to Southampton.

It is a concern to see the once fearsome front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino not being at their utmost and terrifying best.

Without their goals, Liverpool seems to have lost that threatening aura.

Sure, Mane and Salah may have found the back of the net during the FA Cup third round 4-1 win over Aston Villa, but Villa fielded their youth team after their main squad suffered a Covid-19 outbreak.

Even so, the so-called “kids” brought their A game and caused a few concerns for the more experienced Reds.

Hopefully, the goals against Villa would reignite their hunger for more and they go on a scoring run.

Salah, who is currently leading the league’s top scorers chart with 13 goals, will surely want to add to his tally.

Even without influential centreback Virgil van Dijk, the team can still play and perform at the highest level. The Crystal Palace game was a prime example.

Makeshift centre-back Fabinho, who has been a rock at the heart of the defence thus far, will surely keep his place in the starting line-up against Man Utd.

Jurgen Klopp will be expected to pick Jordan Henderson alongside the Brazilian to shore up the defence over the inexperienced duo of Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who had a nightmare game against Southampton, and Andrew Robertson are both expected to be recalled to the side, having sat out the match at Villa Park.

It has also been a welcome sight to see Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who have all returned from injuries, getting their minutes over the past few weeks.

Both Thiago and Shaqiri, who changed the game at Villa Park after coming off the bench in the second half, should start in midfield alongside Georginio Wijnaldum.

Thiago’s passing range and creativity could be the difference while the unpredictable Shaqiri could also come with a few tricks up his sleeves.

Anfield is still a fortress as Liverpool remain unbeaten in 67 matches at home for three calendar years.

Barring unforeseen circumstances or contentious decisions by the referee and VAR, the Reds are no doubt capable of coming out tops.

In fact, Liverpool have won against their bitter rivals at home in the last two seasons but based on current form, a draw would be a likely result.

Klopp and his players will certainly up their game and try to get a win. The team is badly in need of a positive result, and a win may just be the spark they need to regain their confidence.

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