Liverpool has got its swagger back. The team that has had a rough stretch this past month has now got its mojo back.
It was Roberto Firmino’s backheel that told you the swagger was back. Obviously, the finish was from Mohamed Salah and that was more decisive. But it was the back heel which made it and indicated that some of the old synchronicity had returned.
Firmino is a centre forward who can be outstanding without scoring and this was one of those afternoons. And this was the moment was when his all-round understanding and anticipation of his team-mates came close to telepathy
The move to play in the Brazilian had also been a thing of beauty, Sadio Mane finding Naby Keita whose long range pass was perfectly weighted. And that in itself was an improvement on recent games. This was Jürgen Klopp hitting all the right notes of his heavy metal football: controlled yet rapid changes of tempo to dislocate the opposition.
Firmino might have taken the shot himself, though the angle was narrowing as Nathan Ake pushed him ever wider. But he sensed something behind him. Or he just knew that Mohamed Salah would be sprinting to join the attack.
And so, selflessly and instinctively, and whilst running at speed with no chance to check, he back heeled the ball and it fell directly into Salah’s path. Bournemouth had already been on the back foot now but the angles of attack had changed in an instant and they were completely discombobulated. And they had the Egyptian bearing down on goal, with a free hit. The conclusion was inevitable
‘I don’t think you find a lot of players who do what Bobby is doing in that moment,’ said Jurgen Klopp. ‘Most of them try to shoot and get blocked and he is doing that little pass ….’ At this point Klopp just chucked at the audacity of it. ‘That little, little pass,’ he continued, with his enormous grin. ‘And then Mo is obviously a pretty cool finisher.’
We were but two minutes into the second half and Bournemouth could headed home at that point. Any-half time reorganisation, any motivational words from Eddie Howe were lost in the ether at that moment. Three-nil down to a rejuvenated Liverpool, the contest was as good as over.
Salah, as Klopp said, was ‘pretty much un-defendable’ and ‘outstanding.’ Yet it was more than that. This was the response that Liverpool’s fans had yearned for after two draws, one shaky win, one narrow one and a defeat in the last five games.
‘We are very self-critical,’ said Klopp. ‘It was clear that we were not happy with the two performances or even two of three games. There are always reasons for it, but we cannot speak too much about it in public because it always sounds like you are going for excuses. But the analysis has to be sensible. You have to talk about the right things with the boys and we did that. And that was the reaction we wanted to show today and the boys did that in an outstanding manner. So I’m really happy.’