‘Three dirty points’ satisfy Klopp as Liverpool beat Atleti
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Naby Keita once again proved he is the ideal replacement for Giorginio Wijnaldum, following another impressive display in Liverpool’s emphatic 5-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Eyebrows were raised when Jurgen Klopp opted against replacing Wijnaldum after his move to PSG in the summer transfer window. Ibrahima Konate was the Reds’ sole summer signing, arriving from RB Leipzig in a move worth £35million.
But the Reds already had plenty of strength in depth in midfield with Keita, who up until this season, has struggled to make an impact at Anfield.
Several injuries have limited the 26-year-old’s development at Liverpool following his club record £48m move from Leipzig in 2018, but if he continues in this vein, then he is sure to nail down a starting berth in Klopp’s side.
Keita opened the scoring for Liverpool after getting on the end of a beautifully timed ball from Mohamed Salah. The Guinea international was left with only the goalkeeper to beat and he took one touch before coolly slotting past David de Gea.
It was the midfielder’s second goal in as many games after his fantastically timed volley from distance in the 3-2 win against Atletico Madrid in midweek.
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The 26-year-old then played a key role in Liverpool’s second goal when he played the ball into the path of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who laid it on a plate for Diogo Jota – and the Portuguese forward made no mistake.
And it was Keita who provided the all-important assist for Salah, who wrapped the game up for Liverpool before half-time.
Salah then helped himself to his second of the game in first-half injury time, which led to a chorus of boos aimed at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer echoing around the stadium.
The Egyptian clinched his hat-trick moments after half-time after he latched onto Jordan Henderson’s ball, before striking past De Gea.
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Keita looked calm and composed on the ball, and never looked like giving the ball away for his side as they brushed United aside.
BILD football expert Christian Falk reported last month that Keita would not partake in new contract negotiations with the club unless he was given a more prominent role at Anfield, but surely he is now deserving of a regular starting place within Klopp’s side.
But Keita’s performance wasn’t without more injury fears. The midfielder twice went down with a knock, before returning to the field of play, much to the relief of the travelling contingent.
Keita was then forced off on a stretcher following a horrendous challenge by Paul Pogba only 15 minutes after the Frenchman had come on. While the extent of Keita’s injury has not yet been revealed, it is hoped that it won’t be too long before Keita returns to the field of play.
Liverpool are unbeaten on the road since February and have scored at least three goals in every away game this season.
The result means Liverpool move up to second with 21 points, one behind Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side, while they remain the only unbeaten side in the Premier League this season.
Liverpool will now turn their attention to the last-16 EFL Cup tie away at Preston on Wednesday.
Klopp’s side will face Graham Potter’s Brighton in the Premier League next Saturday at Anfield.
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