The tedium of the current international break has been been eased slightly for Liverpool supporters by what preceded it.
Aside from the satisfaction of a first victory over Pep Guardiola’s champions in over 18 months, the quality of the three Liverpool goals on the day scored by Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane illustrated again the elite performance levels the Reds are currently hitting on a regular basis.
The second goal in particular has been held up as a shining example of the attacking dimension Liverpool’s full backs bring to the side, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s left-footed crossfield pass feeding a rampaging Andy Robertson on the left flank with the Scot’s inviting cross being met on the bounce at the far post by an assured Salah header to leave City two goals down and shell-shocked after only 12 minutes.
It was a truly stunning piece of football and has also been compared to the goal a judge as revered as Bob Paisley no less described as “the best ever seen at Anfield”.
The Liverpool side of 1978/79 is often talked about when the club’s greatest ever teams are being discussed, the Reds’ 11th league title being secured with a (then) record points tally of 68 (which would equate to 98 in the three-points-for-a-win era) and a record low of only 16 goals conceded with Ray Clemence keeping 28 clean sheets in the 42 league matches.
Their early-season 7-0 annihilation of a newly-promoted Tottenham Hotspur boasting freshly-signed Argentina World Cup stars Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa was crowned by a sweeping move involving Kenny Dalglish, David Johnson and Steve Heighway with the latter’s cross being converted by a flying Terry McDermott header.
Generations of Liverpudlians have grown up with tales and video clips of Liverpool’s ‘greatest ever goal’ so how does Mo Salah’s Anfield Road compare with Terry Mac’s?
He said: “That was a class apart that Terry Mac goal, from back to front it was just ridiculously good and Mo Salah’s goal was so alike.
“The ball from Dave Johnson out to the wing, Steve Heighway’s deep cross and Terry Mac’s flying header, it was very very similar.
“I think Trent’s ball was about 80 yards and was one of the best passes you’re ever likely to see, with his ‘wrong’ foot as well by the way, and Andy Robertson’s cross was just perfect and begging to be put in the back of the net.
“I scored one a bit like that against Charlton on the opening day of the 1988/89 season when I got a hat-trick, Barnsey put it in like Robbo and it just bounced up for me nicely at the far post!”
With Liverpool already 6-0 up and cruising, a 76th-minute Spurs corner is cleared and finds Kenny Dalglish just outside his own penalty area. He turns and spreads the play towards the halfway line where David Johnson is lurking.
Johnson receives Dalglish’s pass just inside his own half on the right side of the centre circle with his back to goal but his one-touch control with his right foot is perfect, allowing him to turn infield and cut across the ball in spraying an extraordinary 60-yard pass into acres of open space on the left wing where Steve Heighway is galloping forward. (note the runner in red behind Johnson on the edge of the centre circle also charging forward, having only a few seconds earlier been defending the corner kick in his own box. It’s Terry McDermott.)
Heighway pretty much has the freedom of Tottenham’s right flank to himself and has ample time to compose himself before putting in a cross or could even cut inside himself for a shot at goal. But, in keeping with the free-flowing nature of this match and this Liverpool team, chooses to flight a first-time cross with his left foot to the far post (having no doubt spotted McDermott continuing his break-neck sprint from one penalty area to the other).
The ball arrives at the far post flush on McDermott’s head and, without breaking stride, he powers the ball past helpless Spurs keeper Barry Daines to leave Anfield agog and Spurs, as put by ITV commentator Gerald Sinstadt, “in remnants”.
Mo Salah against Manchester City, Sunday 10th November 2019
With Liverpool already leading this top-of-the-table clash thanks to Fabinho’s 25-yard thunderbolt, Trent Alexander-Arnold picks the ball up just inside his own half near the right-hand touchline and (like David Johnson) facing his own goal. However, possibly seeing Bernardo Silva moving across to cover the expected right-footed switch across the pitch, the Reds’ West Derby-born right back superstar produces a sublime left-footed curling crossfield pass into the path of full-back partner Andy Robertson who is charging forward as ever up the left flank.
Trent’s ball is perfectly shaped into the path of Robbo’s run and the Scot takes a touch before arcing a teasing cross right into the corridor of uncertainty between City’s back four and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Mo Salah is making ground towards the far post and reads the flight and bounce of the ball expertly, meeting the ball on the rise after it hits the turf to guide his header back across the bemused Bravo and into the net.
Aesthetically, I think McDermott’s may slightly have the edge. The sweep of Alexander-Arnold’s stunning crossfield pass with his weaker left foot probably evens out the glorious cutting across the ball of David Johnson’s diagonal but the fact that Heighway’s cross was first-time and McDermott’s header was on the full perhaps slightly gives their contributions a fractional edge over those of Robertson and Salah.
But context should always be considered when it comes to considering greatness (in this observer’s opinion anyway) and Terry Mac’s was the seventh in a 7-0 win against a newly-promoted side, while Salah’s doubled Liverpool’s early advantage against the back-to-back Premier League champions in a crucial match which many felt would act as a barometer of the Reds’ title credentials.
So I’m calling it a draw!
By: Dan KayLive Content Editor
Photo Credit: Liverpool ECHO