As 2018 is soon to be ended, the lead in the league has been extended. Newcastle defeated on Boxing Day, and Arsenal truly blown away. Just as the ship is going steady, there’s talk of a newbie leaving already. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, another week reviewed at the world’s favourite football club Liverpool F.C.
Liverpool appear to have won the most recent round of the Staredownwith Manchester City and remain firmly at the top of the Barclays Premier League. The current seven-point gap between the Reds and Citehis by no means a fluke. The Blues have blinked…
Up until mid-December, both sides were caught in a slug match. One would win, the other would win… and so on. Then with City’s defeat at Crystal Palace, they took a stout one on the chin. The loss to Leicester City a couple of days later was the follow-up right hook to the temple. Now they’re dazed. Guard up and on the ropes.
Liverpool are continuing to push on with their jab… win after win. The biggest round comes on Thursday when the two clash again for the second time this season.
So far over the festive season, Liverpool have asserted their claim on the lead. Impressive victories over Newcastle (4-0) and – in particular – Arsenal (5-1) have made the Reds the team to beat in this campaign.
The (Not) Bad
The win against Arsenal last Saturday was probably the best result of this season. Perhaps my memory is short but I don’t recall any better thus far. Barring the Manchester United game, I suppose.
After falling behind after 11 minutes, the Reds stormed back into the lead with two goals from Roberto Firmino within five minutes to stamp their authority on the game. “Not at our place, Gooners!“
Their visitors were promptly swept aside with two further strikes before the break from Sadio Mané and a Mo Salah penalty. Arsenal were sunk without trace. The single goal in the second half (Firmino’s third for his hat-trick), simply underlined Liverpool’s ability to drop a couple of gears and cruise. Putting their foot on the gas only to maintain momentum.
Jürgen Klopp has recreated the fortress Anfield again. This was only the second time in a year that this Liverpool team has fallen behind at Anfield. On that occasion, Leicester went on to lose 2-1 on 30th December last year.
A special mention goes to Gini Wijnaldum. His form has been immense this season and he must be one of the first names on the team sheet. He’s not scoring as many goals as he’d like I’m sure, but his performances have been first class. His work rate has been phenomenal.
All of the plaudits are going to Virgil van Dijk, Firmino and Salah, but Wijnaldum is the unsung hero of this Liverpool side without a doubt. In combination with Fabinho, they are arguably the best midfield duo in the league right now. Possibly even Europe. Speaking of Fabinho, that brings us nicely to…
There have been rumours circling this last few weeks about a possible return to France for Fabinho. As we enter January, surely the silly season will begin for speculation but this one is concerning.
However, it seems this was originally only on loan and, as the Brazilian is a fixture in the team, it appears this won’t happen. Breathe.
Another rumour doing the rounds is Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey to Liverpool. Would he make a good signing for the Reds? Frankly, I doubt it. His peak seemed to be in the European Championships a couple of years ago when Wales did so well.
Since then he’s had more injuries than accolades. And, according to ESPN, he’s agreed to sign for Juventus in any case – which I find surprising. Personally, I’d like to see a squad striker come to replace Dominic Solanke who according to reports has secured a move to Crystal Palace.
So that just about wraps things up for 2018. It’s been emotional. It’s been impressive, it’s been a blast. I’ve enjoyed immensely the development of this Liverpool team since the arrivals of van Dijk, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho. From hopefuls to genuine contenders. Let’s hope for more in 2019 beginning with Manchester City on Thursday.
Thanks to all for reading and following this series. I wish you all a happy, healthy, productive and successful 2019.
Follow Ben on Twitter @MrBengreen