Today’s match between Liverpool and Manchester United was supposed to be an exciting, nervy one thanks to the trajectories and league position of the two sides. Liverpool have been working their way back towards the Champions League places after a poor start to the season, and United have been creeping into a position where some were wondering if they could launch a late challenge for the Premier League crown.
The narrative may have demanded a close game that would excite the neutrals, but Liverpool had other plans. They demolished their biggest rivals for a third time in less than two years. The Reds won by a touchdown.
The destruction was the first taste of LFC vs MUFC for January signing Cody Gakpo, and he rose to the occasion. The Dutch striker opened the scoring in the 43rd minute with a beautiful far-post finish after cutting in from the left. He then extended Liverpool’s lead to three on 50 minutes when he finished an incredible play down the right side by Mohamed Salah.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Gakpo was asked which of the two was the best, but it was hard to pick between them.
“Most beautiful was the second one, the most important was the first one,” said Gakpo.
As for what it was like to play in his first match against Manchester United, the 23-year-old admitted he knew it would be a sizable occasion on any day, but the implications for Liverpool’s top-four bid and United’s title hopes added an extra layer of importance and motivation.
“Everybody told me a lot about this game before. I knew it was a big game for the fans, and also for ourselves in the situation we are in. We were extra motivated. When we put in a performance like this, it’s amazing. We have to keep going.”
A brace against Manchester United was a huge statement for the January signing from PSV Eindhoven. After a bit of a slow start to his Liverpool career, the Dutchman has been scoring with regularity in recent weeks and he attributed the rise in his level of play, and the play of Liverpool’s front line as a whole, to having had more time to adapt to a new playing style and develop chemistry with his new teammates.
“I think obviously it’s a new front three except for Mo. Always, in the beginning, it’s a little bit difficult to find each other because I think the three - Sadio [Mané], Bobby [Firmino] and Mo - were really used to playing with each other.
“It’s a new formation, you have time to adapt and we are getting there. We just have to keep improving and keep going. Keep working hard and it will be alright.”
Alright? Liverpool just beat United 7-0, Cody. Everything is perfect.