Liverpool haven’t been at their best since coming back from the last international break, and the same could be said for the 3-0 win last night. The second half was much better than the first for the Reds, but as a whole the scoreline probably flattered the visitors.
Still, Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka was very impressed by football he saw on display from Liverpool last night.
“I can’t say anything bad about my players,” Karanka said in the post match press conference. “They have given everything for 90 minutes, running and fighting, but Liverpool made it so difficult for us.
“Like Chelsea, I think they are the really strong candidates to win the league. We have played all the top teams - and they are as good as any of them.
“We were more aggressive in the first half, but in the second half it was impossible.”
For Karanka, the most impressive part of the performance was the desire to continue pressing for goals, even when Liverpool found themselves up a couple of goals.
“Even when they were winning 2-0, they kept the same intensity. They passed with the same speed and won the ball back with the same aggression.
"We tried very hard and, in the first half, we tried to put them under more high pressure, but we knew it would be difficult, they use the ball so well.”
It’s high praise from a manager whose side has been organized and difficult to break down, even by the top sides this season. Indeed, the 3-0 defeat was their worst of the season.
Hopefully this is a sign that the last few weeks were more of a blip than a more worrying long-term trend. Let’s hope Ronald Koeman will be equally full of praise after the Derby.