Liverpool moved just three points behind champions and title rivals Manchester City by beating relegation-threatened Leeds United 6-0 on Wednesday night. Mohamed Salah scored two penalties either side of setting up Joel Matip’s cute first-half finish before Sadio Mane scored a late second-half brace and Virgil van Dijk netted a sixth. Express Sport looks at five major talking points from the match.
Title race is ON
Jurgen Klopp declared pre-match that Liverpool “cannot deny” they are now in a title race. Here they proved that emphatically, albeit against a Leeds defence that virtually invited them to score goals. It could’ve easily been 10-0.
After Matip’s goal, Liverpool now have 17 different goalscorers in the league this term – they’ve never had more. Thiago Alcantara, Harvey Elliott, James Milner and Ibrahima Konate are all players who could make it a record-breaking 18 before May.
Still unbeaten in 2022, the Reds have won their last nine in a row across all competitions. In that time they’ve scored 25 and never conceded more than once in a single match, keeping six clean sheets.
And now they can win a trophy on Sunday when they take on Chelsea – who they’ve drawn against 1-1 at Anfield and 2-2 at Stamford Bridge this season – in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
Kalvin Phillips badly missed
Leeds conceded 54 Premier League goals in 38 games last season. After 25 games this term, they have now leaked 56 goals. No team in the division has conceded more.
Indeed, only six of the 92 English Football League teams have conceded more than them and their goal difference stands at -27, with only rock-bottom Norwich’s total worse. The defending for Matip’s goal here was particularly disastrous, the centre-back allowed to drift into the box after a simple one-two with Salah and clip over Illan Meslier.
Without Kalvin Phillips in midfield, Leeds have leaked 36 goals in their last 11 games, with 10 in their past two. In all of the last four, they have conceded three times or more.
The England midfielder is expected to be fully fit again in early March – and his return really cannot come soon enough for the struggling Whites, who are now just three points from safety after Burnley’s win at home to Tottenham. Worryingly, Leeds have also played more games than all of the three teams directly below them.
After becoming the second-quickest player in Liverpool history to reach 150 goals for the club against Norwich on Saturday, here Salah lifted himself to ninth in the club’s all-time goalscorer’s list, surpassing Harry Chambers.
He now has 152 goals in 234 matches for the club – not forgetting the 56 assists. This term, the 29-year-old has 37 direct goal contributions in 31 appearances.
The Egyptian winger managed 60 goals and assists in 52 games in his record-breaking debut campaign in 2017-18 and he still has a maximum of 23 matches – or a minimum of 15 – left this season…
Klopp’s cup final calls
Liverpool’s starting XI vs Leeds read: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Jones, Salah, Mane, Diaz.
That is almost exactly how the Reds will line up in Sunday’s final, with cup goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher a confirmed starter. But there are two other tough calls to make for Klopp.
Harvey Elliott missed out on the squad here just as Curtis Jones did in the previous two games. Will captain Jordan Henderson, who replaced Thiago off the bench, start alongside the Spaniard and Fabinho at Wembley? Or will Klopp name a more natural attack-minded midfielder like Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elliott or Jones?
Up top, does Diogo Jota come in over Luis Diaz if he’s passed fit? Both he and Roberto Firmino are desperately battling to be fit. If they both miss out, Diaz will surely start a third straight game after being hooked early for Divock Origi here.
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