Two goals for Sadio Mané. A goal and two assists for Roberto Firmino. A goal and an assist for Philippe Coutinho. Watford FC were no match for Liverpool’s oustanding front three at Anfield. The progress made this season has been a team effort, but Liverpool’s attacking trio have shown that scoring goals is not enough to thrive in a Jürgen Klopp side.
This fact was underlined by Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. The midfielder has been in fine form at the base of a midfield three this season as one of a number of surprise selections by the manager. Henderson was in no doubt about the attacking attributes and defensive diligence of an offensive trident tasked to breach opposition defences.
“They are world class players,” Henderson said. “Their understanding of the game, not only going forward, but also the work rate they all give for the team in terms of pressing and winning the ball back high up the pitch. They all help the team defensively. The three of them are fantastic at that and going forward they are unstoppable when they are on it.
“I see them every day and, for me, they are world-class players. It’s a pleasure to be playing with them. It’s our job to ensure we offer protection for them when they are going forward and expressing themselves. As a team I feel as though we have a lot of quality and in the final third they’ve been brilliant over the past few weeks. It was very good from them against Watford but then I thought we were very good throughout the whole team.”
Seeing three talented attacking players in their mid-twenties put in so much work regularly must delight the manager. It sends a message to other players in the first-team squad and youngsters with designs on making the grade that nobody is exempt from hard work. This is a team that runs, presses, runs, presses, plays exciting football, and scores goals. Lots of them. With time to train and improve, Liverpool’s attack could conceivably sustain this impressive output.
Liverpool have scored thirty goals in eleven Premier League matches, more than any other team. The 17 shots on target on Sunday was a leage record since Opta began collecting statistical data in 2003/04. Incredibly, Jürgen Klopp’s team have scored four or more goals in five league games, suggesting that the record of 11 shared with Manchester City in 2013/14 could be matched or surpassed by the class of 2016/17. For Henderson, however, comparisons are unnecessary with much to focus on ahead.
“They are all fantastic players, every single one of them is top class,” the captain said. “I don’t really like comparing this team to a couple of seasons ago. I prefer to concentrate on this team and what we’re good at and what we’re doing. That’s the most important thing. The team of 2013-14 is in the past.”