But if Liverpool could take one bright spot from their ultimately one-sided FA Cup victory over Aston Villa’s Academy team on Friday night, it’s that they always know where the onion sack is.
It might seem odd considering the Reds are the Premier League’s top scorers with 37 goals in 17 games.
However, recent clashes against compact defenses – demonstrated once again at Villa Park for the better part of an hour – have raised real concerns about the offensive threat from Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Before Gini Wijnaldum restored Liverpool’s advantage, Sadio Mane’s first game in a cold Midlands had been the Reds’ only goal in more than five hours of action in which, more worryingly, the clear odds had become of increasingly rare.
Other goals from Mane and Mohamed Salah – the 17th Egyptian of the season – not only settled the game, but also provided assurance that Klopp’s side had not lost the touch of goal they had. so graphically illustrated in the record-breaking 7-0 victory at Crystal Palace less than three weeks earlier.
The introduction of Thiago Alcantara at half-time and later Xherdan Shaqiri provided a much-needed creative spark from the midfielder.
It didn’t matter, unless the opportunities created were converted.
And with Manchester United’s next title rivals at Anfield on Sunday, it was a timely reminder, especially with Diogo Jota still sidelined with a knee injury likely to keep him out for at least three weeks. additional.
Consider this. Since Jota suffered his dead Champions League rubber blow at FC Midtjylland, Liverpool have scored 15 goals in seven matches.
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All three bars were marked by Salah, Mane or Roberto Firmino.
Salah has five, Mane four in his last five games while, before Christmas, Firmino stopped a barren period with three in four days.
Additionally, they each have notch experience against United – Salah last year, Mane in 2018 and Firmino in the Europa League in 2016 – a notable asset given that James Milner and Shaqiri are the only other Reds players available at to have scored in the blockbusting. fixation.
Klopp now has the rare luxury of a week to prepare for the visit of bitter rivals North West Liverpool in a game that could help determine the strength of the title challenge for both teams.
But worrying about the self-confidence of his top three shouldn’t be one of his concerns.