Anfield, Liverpool – One down one to go. The 2017/2018 season has finally reached its end. Before Liverpool got the chance to celebrate the fruits of their labour in this campaign, two tasks still remained.
First and foremost, they had to ensure that they didn’t suffer their first home league defeat of the season when they faced Brighton. Only a loss would have given Chelsea the avenue from which to sneak into 4th place.
Jurgen Klopp fielded as strong a line-up as he possibly could, with Solanke coming in for the injured Milner and Firmino dropping into midfield.
Any lingering nerves were emphatically put to rest as The Reds cruised to a 4-0 victory. Anfield was given the opportunity to joyfully send their heroes off as they prepare to battle with Real Madrid in less than a fortnight.
Here are the three key talking points after Liverpool clinched a top 4 finish.
1 – Record Breaker Salah
This was just bound to happen. If someone were to have told you back in August that Mohamed Salah would go on to guide his country to the World Cup, be the first Liverpool player to score 40 goals since the 1980s, and win the PFA, Football Writers’, and Premier League Player of the Year awards, you would have been crazy to believe them.
However, here we are in May and there was a sense of inevitability around him breaking his newest record: scoring the most league goals in a 38-game season.
His finish on Sunday taking him past the previous record held by Alan Shearer, Luis Suarez, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
As one would expect from someone who breaks the league’s goal scoring record, Salah also won the race for the golden boot, stopping Harry Kane from picking up his third on the bounce.
It’s been an absolutely ridiculous campaign from the Egyptian, a story that almost seems too poetic to be true. The man who was once rejected by English football has returned and well and truly conquered it.
The only thing a cynic would require of him now would be to lift the league title. A challenge for another day.
2 – Happiest Liverpool Side in Decades
How a Liverpool supporter could watch Sunday’s match without a smile beaming on their face is anyone’s guess. The sun shined down on Anfield as the hosts celebrated the season in style.
Even beyond the significance of Salah breaking the Premier League scoring record, there was much to be joyful about.
Dejan Lovren capped off a campaign in which he has shown significant improvements to his game with a goal. Watching him tower over the Brighton defence then proceed to use Salah’s now trademark celebration was a greater sight than most would have expected.
To make the day even better, two players opened their goal scoring accounts with the club.
Dominic Solanke latched on to Salah’s through ball in the 2nd half before smashing it off the crossbar and into the back of the net. This season has been frustrating at times for the youngster, and he would have been overjoyed to finally break his duck.
Andy Robertson accomplished the same feat, when he scored the goal that capped off a solid league campaign for both him and the club. The Scotsman’s meteoric rise has been well documented in recent weeks.
His journey through the divisions to now playing regularly for Liverpool Football Club is an inspiring one. He likely won’t be known at Anfield for his goal-scoring prowess, but this goal will be quite the memorable moment for him nonetheless.
Everyone associated with the club is in full spirits and why shouldn’t they be?
Jurgen Klopp has managed to guide them to Champions League qualification for the 2nd year running. They have a final in that exact competition on the horizon, and others have begun to take notice of Liverpool as a serious force once again.
3 – On to Kyiv
Who would have thought that we would be here? If asked back in August, most Liverpool supporters would have expected May 26th to be a day when they sat back and watched two top footballing sides clash on Europe’s biggest stage. Almost none would have expected their beloved side to be one of those teams.
But yet, here we are. Two of Europe’s most storied sides will go head to head in Kyiv, as Liverpool prepare to battle with Real Madrid.
Perhaps it’s this romantic history with the competition that has gotten Liverpool this far. They sometimes look to be a different team when they step out under those Anfield lights in a Champions League game.
Needless to say though, the final will not be at Anfield, and perhaps that will show that crediting Liverpool’s run solely to the magic of the club is a bit demeaning.
Such an analysis leaves out the praise that Jurgen Klopp deserves for the incredible job that he continues to do.
In less than three years he’s taken this side from mid-table mediocrity to Champions League finalists. And it takes more than the history of the club to manage a feat like that.