Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 3-0 win against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon with Manchester City playing Chelsea on Sunday with a chance to retaliate.
This was a convincing performance from Jurgen Klopp's side, who responded to two frustrating draws with Leicester City and West Ham through goals by Sadio Mane, Gini Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah.
The result saw Bournemouth suffer their eight successive away defeat this season.Embed from Getty Images
Story of the match
Three days prior, Manchester City's win over Everton moved them to the top of the table on goal difference, with Klopp's side aware that any further slip ups would hand their fate to their title rivals. However, the German rallied his troops in perfect style, fending off talk that they're feeling the pressure of the title race with an emphatic performance in all departments.
Once again it was Sadio Mane who opened the scoring from James Milner's cross, with Alisson making a crucial save to deny Ryan Fraser in the opening stages. Scoring a goal in his fourth successive league game for the first time, the former-Southampton man was a livewire all afternoon, drifting inside and interchanging with his teammates to get into promising areas.
From then, Liverpool were very much in the ascendency and had several chances to double their lead, none more blatant than a lovely counter-attacking move set up by the Senegal international. Sadio Mane, who had battled well to deny Bournemouth a corner, won the ball back deep inside his own half before setting Gini Wijnaldum through on goal. With Salah in support, the Dutchman fluffed his lines with an overzealous pass that made it near on impossible for Salah to get a first-time strike away. However, all was forgiven minutes later when he produced a stunning solo goal to make it 2-0.
Another dynamic run from deep saw Wijnaldum drift into space, breaking the lines of Bournemouth's defence. Producing a sumptuous chipped effort over the head of Boruc, Anfield erupted, witnessing a stellar Liverpool performance just as the occasion had demanded.
Shortly after the interval, Naby Keita, who was much improved, delivered a through-ball into the path of Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian showed awareness and cheek in equal measure to backheel the ball perfectly into the path of Mohamed Salah, whose composed finish would ensure there was no late drama at Anfield.
Liverpool are now on 65 points for the season, a total of points that would have been enough for a nine-point lead in the title race in any of the last five season at the same stage.Embed from Getty Images
Takeaways from the match
Much has been made of Naby Keita in recent weeks, having failed to hit the form he produced in the Bundesliga for RB Leipzig. However, this was a huge step in the right direction as the midfielder showed far more attacking ingenuity in possession, drifting in between the lines to support the front three. Just as importantly, he was instrumental to Liverpool's impressive press, instigating his teammates to push further up the field and force the away side into mistakes. Gaining a welcome embrace from Klopp at full-time, Keita's performance will have pleased Liverpool fans across the board and the hope will be that he can kick on from here in a central role alongside Gini and Fabinho.
However, the man of the match would be Gini Wijnaldum for another clinical performance at both ends of the field. Showing exuberance to burst forward into the box, one of the main criticisms he's faced during his time on Merseyside, the former-Newcastle man showed exactly what Liverpool have been missing in recent weeks.
Completing 91% of his passes before being substituted in the 77th minute, he was there to mop up on the rare occasions Bournemouth threatened to find a way back into the contest and his partnership with Fabinho looks like a really solid platform for success for Klopp's side.