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It’s been a record-breaking campaign at Anfield – but who has been the Reds’ star performer?
They’re daring to dream at Anfield, even if the thought of what is to come is making some fans nervous.
Liverpool’s season is reaching crunch time. The Champions League semi-final looms large, and a top-four finish could be done and dusted soon. This still has the potential to be a very, very good season for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The next fortnight will determine just how good, of course, but already the Reds have left their mark on 2017/18, and so have their players.
It’s awards season in the Premier League, with the PFA Player of the Year nominations revealed earlier this month. Here, Goal takes a look at Liverpool’s three star performers throughout a goal-filled campaign. An obvious winner, yes, but plenty to debate still.
Make sure you tell us your own opinion in the comments section below!
3. Andy Robertson
While one signing from last summer has grabbed the headlines all season long, the impact of another should not go unnoticed.
Plenty – this correspondent included – questioned the merits of signing a budget left-back from a relegated club, but the doubters have been turned into believers by the Scot’s all-action displays.
Robertson took a couple of months to find his feet at Anfield, starting the season behind Alberto Moreno. The Spaniard’s injury, though, gave him his chance in December and he has not looked back.
Quick, aggressive and energetic, he provides essential width from left-back and has been part of a defensive unit that has tightened up significantly since the turn of the year. His delivery and his composure has improved markedly as he has settled.
Memorable moments include a one-man press against Manchester City which had the Kop on their feet, while his performances in the Champions League knockout stages show a player ready to seize his chance on the big stage.
Off the pitch, he has made an impact too, his work with a local food bank on Merseyside has been both valuable and appreciated. He’s already a firm favourite with supporters.
2. Roberto Firmino
This Liverpool team seems to like proving people wrong, and Firmino is a case in point.
Remember the time when critics suggested Liverpool would never prosper without a ‘proper’ No.9? That mythical ’20-goal-a-season striker’ would make all the difference if only the Reds could find him.
Well, they found him. He’s Brazilian, he wears the No.9 and his teeth shine as brightly as his performances.
Firmino has been sensational. His goal against Bournemouth last weekend was his 25th in all competitions. He’s scored nine in the Champions League as the Reds have marched to the last four.
More than that, his unique skillset has enabled Klopp to build his side around him. Firmino presses from the front, he nicks the ball off defenders, he links with Salah and Sadio Mane, he provides an option for midfielders and full-backs with his movement and he works non-stop for 90 minutes. Klopp loves him, describing him as “world class every single day.”
The goals are a bonus, but a welcome one. He scores all kinds – right foot, left foot, head, deft chips, cheeky no-look finishes, first-time strikes and tap-ins. He’s the complete package. If Liverpool are to win things, he will play as big a part as anyone.
1. Mohamed Salah
And in today’s least surprising news…
Yep, the 40-goal star wins the top prize. Amazing, huh?
Salah’s season just goes from strength to strength. It’s been remarkable, relentless, downright absurd on occasion. He started scoring in August and he’s not stopped. He’s laid waste to record after record, and he’s not finished.
He’s the first player to score 40 in a campaign for Liverpool since 1984, he’s the first player to score in 22 Premier League games in a season. He’s scored more than Luis Suarez, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler or Fernando Torres ever did in a single campaign, and seven more will see him equal Ian Rush’s club record. He’s scored at home and away, in big games and small games, in Europe and domestically. He’s scored headers and volleys, tap-ins and screamers. He’s created more chances than any other Liverpool player, and he has a minimum six games to take things further. He should break the record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
He has, quite simply, become one of the best around. He deserves to be the PFA Player of the Year, despite Kevin De Bruyne’s strong claims, and he will surely beat Harry Kane to the Premier League Golden Boot too.
Think of the goals. The Champions League chip against Manchester City, the Messi-style dribble and finish against Spurs, the spin and sweep against Leicester, the thrilling one-man break against Arsenal. Everton have felt his power, Chelsea too. He scored at the Emirates, at the Etihad and at Wembley, he’s got nine in Europe including three in the knockout stages.
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