Liverpool verdict - New questions being asked of Jurgen Klopp's men
Liverpool beat Southampton 4-0 at Anfield to move 22 points clear at the top of the Premier League
By Paul Gorst Liverpool FC correspondent
12:35, 2 FEB 2020
The Premier League title countdown continues for Liverpool - they are now just seven wins, maximum, from Anfield immortality.
Their latest triumph - their 24th from 25 - means they have now taken a jaw-dropping 100 points from the last 102 on offer. They are up to 73 already this season on February's opening day.
A comfortable 4-0 win over Southampton at Anfield was enough to edge them ever closer to the trophy they crave more than any other.
This win sees the Reds go 22 points clear of second-placed Manchester City. Such a margin is the biggest lead any team have ever had at the end of a day in English top-flight history.
Despite the apparent breeze towards league crown No.19, speak to virtually anyone in this Liverpool squad and their focus remains unshakable. The need for improvement is always expressed and the party line remains the same: Nothing is won yet.
The same goes for Jurgen Klopp who insisted he didn't even know the word 'complacency' on Friday, quite literally. "I don’t know this word? Complacency? Yes, there’s no space for complacency," he claimed with much sincerity.
With Manchester City not in action until a difficult-looking visit to Tottenham on Sunday, this was the perfect chance to move even further clear in an increasingly academic title race.
And like their game-in-hand at West Ham earlier this week, it was an opportunity they wouldn't pass up as a fantastic second-half display saw them put the Saints to the sword.
Goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and a Mohamed Salah double ensured Klopp will skip off to his mid-season break with a spring in his step.
The on-looking FSG chief, Mike Gordon, will have been suitably impressed by the Reds in the second half, too.
It’s 10 years in October since FSG purchased the club for a mere £300m and with the Reds now valued at well over £1bn, the Americans’ investment has been a shrewd one.
Gordon’s beaming smile post match sign-posted the delight from FSG at what they are watching this term.
For complacency to truly not set in for the remainder of the season, though, you feel the runaway league leaders and future champions of England may need more achievements and accolades to chase down, domestically.
With the next destination of the league title now all but confirmed, what else is there to maintain the hunger, the desire and the drive?
Can Liverpool become Invincible by going the entire season unbeaten? Can they eclipse Man City's 2018 record of 100 points?
Are they good enough, dare it be even whispered, to become the first-ever Invincible Centurions?
These questions will never ever be raised inside the Anfield dressing room, but they might now be the only twin peaks left to scale for Liverpool between now and the season's end on May 17.
For as long as such milestones are in play, they can be fairly asked. This remarkable team look simply unbeatable right now. The planet's best football team operates out of Anfield in 2020.
Liverpool fans will simply settle for a league crowning, whatever happens, though.
Of course, such chatter ignores the defence of the Champions League that resumes on the other side of this mid-season break in Madrid and it will be fascinating to see how Klopp juggles his options for the remainder of this month with Atletico laying in wait.
The game here started in a subdued manner with very little to write home about inside the first half hour, and it was Southampton who perhaps had the most presentable chances.
Former Reds striker Danny Ings almost added to his 14 goals this season when he escaped Joe Gomez's attention before his goal-bound effort was blocked by a mixture of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
Moments later Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg robbed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and opted to shoot when he had Ings and Shane Long in support before Alisson was forced to smother a loose ball after Gomez had been caught napping inside the area.
Earlier in the half, the Reds thought a penalty award was incoming when Roberto Firmino was felled on the line with Henderson in a crossing position. A check of the video replays gave nothing other than a throw-in seconds after Alex McCarthy had made an excellent stop from Van Dijk's back-heeled effort.
Liverpool's breakthrough eventually came just two minutes into the second period when Oxlade-Chamberlain fired low from edge of the box to leave Alex McCarthy rooted.
It was the midfielder's seventh of an increasingly productive campaign in front of goal and his second of the week after he netted against West Ham on Wednesday night. Those sort of figures outline what he brings to the team that few others in the midfield.
And on a day when the leaders were without Sadio Mane, it was heartening to see the former Arsenal man shoulder the goalscoring burden.
Liverpool then thought they had scored one of the best team goals of the season after turning defence into attack in seconds from Alisson's pass out, but Salah had strayed offside before tucking away. The flag went up sharpish and the VAR checks confirmed it correct.
The Reds' advantage was duly doubled by their captain after superb stuff from Firmino out wide. After bringing down Alexander-Arnold's long ball beautifully with the outside of his boot, his cut-back was met by Henderson who finished it off with no mistake.
This was another performance that typified everything good and great about the Reds skipper this campaign. The England midfielder is in the form of his career and those calls to make him Player of the Year are only continuing to grow.
Once more Henderson was full of energy and industry, snapping into tackles and passing it around with an impressively varied range that is rarely discussed when his virtues are the topic of conversation.
The ovation he received when he made way for Adam Lallana late on spoke volumes about how much he is appreciated by the Anfield faithful.
Salah made the game safe when he poked past McCarthy after going clean through, dispatching his 17th goal of the season with minimum fuss.
His second of the afternoon came in the final moments as he tapped home after unselfish play from Firmino who was entitled to go it alone with his curious Anfield drought still hanging in play.
The Egyptian is on course for a third straight year of 20-plus goals and is in pole position to finish, once more, as the Reds most lethal marksman. For all the ways to marvel at this team Klopp has carefully constructed, Salah surely remains the jewel in the crown.
Once more, the sound of Liverpool supporters declaring it their year echoed around the Kop. With 13 games left to simply enjoy this ride, it is an anthem that will head into regular rotation.
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