Gary Neville: “You remembered in that moment what Mo Salah has been in the last five years, and we’ve missed it in this last few months”; speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast, Sky Sports pundit also discusses Jurgen Klopp’s tactical shift and what Man City’s defeat means for the title race
Gary Neville says Mohamed Salah’s “special” goal against Manchester City has reminded Liverpool of what they’ve been missing this season.
Salah’s strike was enough for Jurgen Klopp’s side to end City’s unbeaten start to the campaign and close the gap between the sides to 10 points.
It was just Liverpool’s third Premier League win of the season after nine matches, with Salah’s unusually barren run in front of goal contributing to their slow start.
Salah’s winner against City was just his third league goal of the season, while he has only 10 in the 24 top-flight matches he has played since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations in February.
But the Egyptian impressed at Anfield on Sunday, coming close to opening the scoring on two occasions before finally doing so in the 76th minute, when he controlled Alisson’s long pass and turned Joao Cancelo in one movement before scooping a finish past Ederson.
Speaking on the latest edition of the Gary Neville Podcast, the former Manchester United and England defender said: “You remembered in that moment what Mo Salah has been in the last five years, and we’ve missed it in this last few months.
“He’s not looked the same and has looked detached from what’s happening at Liverpool but we’ve just seen something pretty spectacular.
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“The right side of Liverpool’s defence and Salah, who I think have been the two most underperforming areas in the team from the standards they’ve set over the last few years, were brilliant today.
Gary Neville fumes over Jamie Carragher’s analysis of Man City’s formation
“[Joe] Gomez and [James] Milner and Salah up front, they were really wonderful and supported by a big effort from everybody else.
“As he went through for the goal, I never thought he was missing. The finish is fantastic but the brilliant bit is that turn. It’s really special.
“Cancelo could have just stayed a couple of yards behind Salah, let him bring it down and let his team-mates recover. That would have been the safe thing to do but Man City don’t play that way – they play front foot.
“I don’t know how he’s ended up one-on-one. Kyle Walker normally plays that position and if he’d been playing today Cancelo wouldn’t have been there and it would have been a lot harder for Salah to turn.
“A little bit of naivety from Cancelo. I was relatively strong for my size but there were certain players where you’d have to respect that they were going to get their body in and you weren’t going to get the ball.
“Well done to Alisson, he saw the situation develop.”
Sky Sports pundits Roy Keane & Jamie Carragher praise Liverpool forward Mo Salah’s ‘electric’ performance, despite the ‘ugly’ nature of the game.
‘Klopp turned it up a notch’
Salah has spent most of his time at Liverpool playing on the right of a front three but he featured more centrally against City, with Klopp admitting recently he would be forced to “change things” given his team’s results and intense fixture list.
Salah and Roberto Firmino were flanked by Diogo Jota and Harvey Elliott as the manager moved away from his regular 4-3-3 system, with Neville saying Klopp “turned it up a notch”.
“At the end, when [Darwin] Nunez and Salah played together, it looked like they’d be a threat,” said Neville. “He took a chance, Jurgen Klopp – he’s gone 4-4-2 and turned it up a notch.
“There were two really good performances from Jota and Elliott, chasing back and doubling up with the full-backs. That was a shift you’d see from two outer midfield players 15 years ago. They didn’t take any chances.”
Gary Neville highlighted James Milner’s performance by saying he epitomised Liverpool’s display against Manchester City by showing passion, spirit, effort and fight.
‘City know Anfield is as tough as it gets’
City’s defeat extended Guardiola’s record at Anfield to just one win in eight attempts and Neville said the City manager knows playing away to Liverpool is “as tough as it gets”.
He said: “It was the same when I was at United, the feeling coming into this game. Sir Alex [Ferguson] was always different. The boss all week would be more serious and would get that look in his eyes that was different.
“Then you’d come here and there was very little talking in the changing room before a day like today.
“Even when you’re a really good side, you walk out and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ hits you and you feel like you’re into something that’s different from most grounds, not just here, but in Europe.
“Coming here, Pep Guardiola knows this is as tough as it gets. I was down on the touchline half an hour before kick-off and he’d been sat in the dugout for half an hour. You do things here that you don’t do elsewhere – you don’t usually see him do that at away grounds.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes his side had enough chances to beat Liverpool despite losing 1-0 at Anfield.
“Liverpool’s performances over the last five years means they’ve been confident coming into these games but I actually felt like the crowd today performed like an underdog crowd – clapping throw-ins, cheering throw-ins and passes, little bits of good quality play where you pass it out to your full-back that they’d taken for granted for many years.
“It felt a little bit like when we would come here and the crowd would try and be the 12th man. City recognise that this place is difficult.”
Neville added that City’s defeat was good news for the Premier League and the prospect of a title race developing this season, given Arsenal are now four points clear at the top of the table.
“For the league, if you’re Arsenal today or someone else, you recognise that this is an important moment,” said Neville.
“We probably think this [Liverpool] is one of the only teams that can beat Man City and now they’ve done it, it means the league is more competitive, which is what we want.
“I had that feeling coming into the game and over the last few weeks that maybe earlier in season, City could win the league by 15 or 20 points – and they still could. But the longer it goes on, the longer it’s competitive.
“We don’t want that situation whereby our league is won with 10 or five games to go. We’ve been lucky in the last few years that Liverpool have pushed them close and it remains to be seen whether others can do that.”