Liverpool need Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk fit for the rest of the season if they are to beat Manchester City to the Premier League title, reckons former Tottenham and Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood. The pair scored three of the Reds’ six goals as they thrashed Leeds United 6-0 on Wednesday night.
Liverpool’s ninth straight victory across all competitions moved them within three points of Premier League leaders Manchester City, with both teams having played 26 of 38 league games.
Salah scored a first-half brace of penalties either side of Joel Matip’s finish, which he assisted, to take himself to 37 direct goal contributions in just 31 appearances this season.
The Egyptian has scored seven more goals than any other player in the English top-flight as he hunts a third Golden Boot and is now on 19, needing 14 in the last 12 games to break his own record for the most goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
Centre-back Van Dijk meanwhile added a stoppage-time header from a corner after Sadio Mane’s brace of his own, with all three goals coming in the final 10 minutes at Anfield.
The result means the Dutchman has gone a joint-Premier League record 59 successive home matches without suffering defeat, having won 51 and drawn eight of those games since joining Liverpool in January 2018.
And Sherwood believes Salah, just three shy of the 30-goal mark for the third time in five seasons on Merseyside, and Van Dijk, are the two most important players to Liverpool’s hopes of usurping City and lifting a 20th league title in May.
Speaking on Premier League Productions, the player-turned-manager-turned-pundit said when asked if he’d rather be in City’s situation or Liverpool’s: “I don’t think Man City are dependent on any one player, one or two players. I’d rather be leading [the league].
“I think if Van Dijk or Mo Salah got injured, even though they’ve got [Luis] Diaz now and they’ve got Mane, I think they’d miss them two.
“For Man City, I don’t care who they miss, someone else can come in. Yes it’s a blip, we’re all looking at the result against Tottenham but forget that. Look at what they’ve done previously.
“Liverpool share the goals out but so do Man City, they can score from anywhere and all over the pitch they share the goals out.
“I suppose as the manager you’d be saying if you were at City, ‘Come on, let’s go out there and play. We know they’re just behind us but we win our games…’
“But you’ve always got it in your head, because they’re right behind you. Whereas Klopp will be saying to his team, ‘We have to win.’
“Their mindset already is, ‘We have to win this, we can’t lose.’ They’ll be going full pelt straight away. Don’t get me wrong, Man City go full pelt as well but I’d rather be chasing down thinking, ‘I have to win.’
“These two are by far the best two teams in the Premier League if not the world at the moment. Liverpool know they’re in, they never thought they were out of it.
“Liverpool are comfortable now even at 1-0. They seem to just take the sting out of the game and are happy to win 1-0 and wait for opponents to step out and when they do that, Liverpool score.”
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