Liverpool completed a routine 2-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield in Saturday’s late kick-off to move five points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea and strengthen their grip on a Champions League place for next season.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane got the goals either side of half-time and while there were chances to extend that lead, this was another convincing victory for one of the form teams in the Premier League.
Here, we pick out five talking points from Liverpool’s win…
Salah’s scoring streak
Salah has had more eye-catching performances in a Liverpool shirt but maybe that is what is so encouraging. There was something routine about him finding the net against Newcastle. It was not his first chance of the game and nor was it the neatest of finishes – going in off the underside of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka – but the goals keep coming.
In fact, this is actually Salah’s best streak of the season. Until this run of goals beginning in late January, the Egyptian had not once scored in four consecutive appearances for Liverpool. He has now scored in his last seven games for the Reds. We are witnessing something special.
Karius impresses again
In such a dominant Liverpool performance, the efforts of the Reds goalkeeper could be overlooked but Jurgen Klopp will have noted his contribution to the victory. Loris Karius’s save to deny Mohamed Diame’s poked effort from distance was a high-quality stop and ensured that Liverpool went into the half-time interval with their lead intact.
Watch Loris Karius's brilliant save in Liverpool's win over Newcastle
Klopp made the decision at the turn of the year that he would give his 24-year-old compatriot an extended opportunity to show whether or not he was up to the challenge of establishing himself as Liverpool’s long-term first-choice goalkeeper. The likelihood of the club dipping into the market again will decrease if Karius keeps up this form.
Reds are more ruthless
The accepted wisdom with Liverpool is that they struggle at Anfield when the opponents are set up to stifle. Klopp’s programme notes for the visit of Newcastle seemed to hint at this concern – urging the supporters to understand “the need to remain relentless” in creating an atmosphere despite the presence of fan favourite Rafa Benitez in the opposition dugout.
The players are responding. Since the goalless draw at home to West Brom just before Christmas, Liverpool have put five past Swansea and hit four against West Ham. This was just the latest comprehensive victory and if the Reds can couple this ruthlessness with their already excellent record against their top-six rivals then it would suggest things are really coming together for Klopp.
Mane joining the party
Liverpool need the front three fit and firing if that is going to happen and that’s certainly the case right now. Salah has been superb all season, but it is the fact that his fellow forwards are now in brilliant goalscoring form of their own that will please supporters. Roberto Firmino has scored in six of his last nine games and now Mane has joined the party too.
Watch Sadio Mane put the seal on Liverpool's 2-0 victory at Anfield
There was some suggestion that Mane had been inhibited by his move to the left in order to accommodate Salah, but those concerns have faded. After his hat-trick against Porto, he has netted in his next two – scoring in three successive Liverpool appearances for the first time. To have three forwards in such good form is exciting at such a key phase of the season.
Bigger tests ahead now
With this game decided as a contest before the hour mark, Klopp was able to withdraw Mane and Firmino before the end. Perhaps that was with half an eye on future tests but the good thing about Liverpool’s fixture list now is that it is not too congested at all. Even the second leg against Porto on Tuesday should be routine with a 5-0 lead from the first game.
Man Utd vs Liverpool
March 10, 2018, 11:30am
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Klopp has the chance to focus much of his energies on the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford and with Watford at home the only other fixture to fulfil before the trip to Crystal Palace on the final day of the month, this could be the calm before the storm. Klopp has a fully fit squad to call upon – and a massive few months ahead.