Ruthless Liverpool run riot to go second in the Premier League

Liverpool have stretched their unbeaten home run in the Premier League to 16 games and moved to second after yet another devastating performance at Anfield gave them a 4-1 win over West Ham.

Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan’s Brighton did their survival hopes a favour by beating Swansea by the same scoreline, while injured countryman Aaron Mooy’s Huddersfield also had a win, 2-1 over last-placed West Brom.

Ryan made a spectacular save to deny Ki Sung-yueng early in the second half with his side leading 1-0 thanks to Glenn Murray’s 18th-minute penalty.

On Merseyside the irrepressible Mohamed Salah scored his 31st goal in all competitions after setting up Emre Can’s opener and Roberto Firmino made it 3-0 before substitute Michail Antonio pulled one back in an action-packed encounter.

Can headed Liverpool into a 29th-minute lead after Salah swung in a corner and the Egyptian doubled the advantage in the 51st when he drilled an unstoppable shot into the far corner from 10 metres past the wrong-footed Adrian.

Firmino added the third six minutes later as he rounded the West Ham keeper and Sadio Mane scored Liverpool’s fourth with a simple tap-in after Antonio had given visiting fans something to cheer about with his first touch of the ball.

“I would say we are not second. It looks like this but if Man United wins tomorrow then we were second for a few hours.

“But to get the points is very important. In this situation we all put pressure on each other with results. That is how it is.”

In the late kick-off, Watford moved six points clear of the bottom three after defeating Everton 1-0 at Vicarage Road.

Troy Deeney scored the only goal of the game 11 minutes from time, taking a touch before turning and firing into the roof of the net, beating Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at his near post.

Earlier, an own goal by Stoke City keeper Jack Butland gifted Leicester City an equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium and denied Paul Lambert’s side a rare win on the road.

After Stoke took the lead through Xherdan Shaqiri’s third goal in successive league games just before the interval on Saturday, Butland parried the ball into his net when under no obvious pressure from Marc Albrighton’s 70th-minute cross.

Butland’s mistake was made all the more embarrassing by the presence of former England, Leicester and Stoke hero Peter Shilton in the stands although manager Paul Lambert refused to blame his keeper for the dropped point.

“He is the best goalkeeper in Britain,” said Lambert. “Since I have been at the club he has been huge. The mistake will be the making of him because it is all about how you deal with these things.”

Bournemouth and Newcastle played out a 2-2 draw while Burnley lost ground in their unlikely push for European football when they were held 1-1 at home by Southampton.

See Also : Liverpool vs Man City: Klopp aims to topple Guardiola …

All eyes will be on Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool play host to runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City .

Jurgen Klopp ‘s side find themselves 18-points adrift of Pep Guardiola ‘s inspired side, though are seen by many as realistic candidates to halt the Etihad machine.

Ahead of the crunch showdown Sportsmail assesses the nuances of the two sides and where this clash of the titans could be won and lost.

Both sides enter the match unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, though this has been a consistent trend for City all season.

After a debut campaign of acclimatisation to English football, Guardiola has his side finely tuned and all singing beautifully from the same hymn sheet.

Liverpool however, since being humiliated by Tottenham back in October, have gone 17 games in all competitions without being beaten – and 13 games undefeated in the league; their best to date under Klopp.

The feeling around Anfield is that the Reds have mastered their approach so as to remain incredibly resilient, though gifting away reckless opportunities has been the undoing of Klopp’s side – causing many games to be drawn from winning positions.

Liverpool have been desperate to forget their last meeting with the Citizens, though will likely use it as added motivation come Sunday.

Guardiola’s men ran riot when the two sides last met back in October, smashing Liverpool for five in a game which saw Sadio Mane pick up a straight red card for a high boot to the face of goalkeeper Ederson.

Said game aside however, the state of play is rather an interesting one. Of the last five Premier League ties prior to October’s Etihad meltdown, Liverpool have won four and drawn one.

The scorelines are strong in favour of the Reds, too, with a 4-1 victory at the Etihad back in November 2015 and, more recently, a 3-0 Anfield rout in March 2016.

With Liverpool perhaps standing as the most similar team to Guardiola’s oppressive City in terms of style and approach, Sunday’s clash will fall into the favour of whichever side can consolidate their methods quickest.

Liverpool stand as the top ball retrievers in 2017/18, winning the ball back in the middle third 628 times – 42 times more than closest rivals in this area Southampton.

It’s this approach which Klopp will need his men to get right from the first whistle at Anfield, retaining and turning the ball over in order to deny City’s ruthless midfield the chance to fall into their creative stride. The following individual match-ups, likewise, will be crucial in determining the result:

The Dutchman was handed an unlikely debut in the Merseyside derby mere days after officially signing, and looked like he’d never been away.

His incredible match-winning goal aside, Van Dijk bossed the defensive line for the Reds and appeared to be the imposing unit at the back Liverpool have been desperately crying out for.

Tests don’t come much tougher than Sergio Aguero however, who will lead the City attack in the absence of Gabriel Jesus.

Despite a height disparity of about ten inches between the two men, Aguero has honed his trade in slipping the last man with his unplayable movement and reading of the game.

While Van Dijk will win the physical element of this one all day long, a single lapse in concentration would more than likely see Aguero dish instant punishment and put City out of reach. The Dutchman must be at his PS75million best.

With Klopp’s recent switching and shuffling of his Liverpool side, it remains to be seen exactly who could line up in his central midfield three.

Captain Jordan Henderson could come back into the set-up, while Georginio Wijnaldum may retain his place in the three. Klopp favours the power of Emre Can in these big games however, and the German must silence the might of De Bruyne.

The Belgian has been a level above everyone this season and has the PFA Player of the Year award all but in the bag.

When De Bruyne is allowed to create City waste little time before burying their opposition, while showing little remorse in the process. Hindering the no 17 is Liverpool’s best chance of getting a foothold in the midfield and adopting their desired method of play.

The mercurial Egyptian is facing a race for fitness ahead of this contest, and his presence for the Reds cannot be understated.

Salah has been terrorising defences all season for Liverpool, and had a clean cut opportunity to open the scoring at the Etihad in October.

Salah has improved leaps and bounds since then, though will take to this fixture without the service of Philippe Coutinho. Following his record British transfer sale to Barcelona, Liverpool will only now begin to learn how vital Coutinho’s game was for Salah to thrive.

Containing the in-form winger is likely to be Fabian Delph, who has enjoyed something of a renaissance under Guardiola this season.

After being fashioned into a full-back following the injury to Benjamin Mendy, Delph has stepped up to the plate.

He has the work-rate and tenacity to give Salah a run for his money, though there is no room for error in the boiling cauldron of atmosphere that will be Anfield on Sunday.

When his PS49million move to City went through, many Liverpool fans couldn’t make their mind up as to whether Raheem Sterling would truly be a hit.

It was always apparent he needed the right manager to nurture and cultivate him expertly, in order to extract every ounce of his obvious irresistible talent.

Under Guardiola Sterling has been a revelation. He’s leading the way for City this season and looking every bit the part.

The 23-year-old has 14 goals in 20 league appearances so far this season, having created 32 goal-scoring chances along the way and forms one third of the formidable trident attack for Guardiola’s side along with fellow pace merchant Leroy Sane and Aguero.

While Philippe Coutinho was unavailable the last time these sides faced off, Sunday’s contest marks the dawn of a new era without him indefinitely.

The so named ‘Fab Four’ forward line has disbanded, and now Liverpool must prove – against English football’s most in-form team – that they truly are greater than the sum of their parts.

While behind closed doors negotiations are raging on to get Naby Keita to Merseyside six months ahead of schedule, Liverpool must take on the might of City with no like-for-like replacement for Coutinho.

The recent return of Adam Lallana has gone some way to assure Klopp that this is under control, while the recently rejuvenated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now has no better opportunity to shine.

It’s up to the wealth of creative options in the Liverpool team to fill the spellbinding duties of the recently departed Brazilian. If someone can pick up the gauntlet, Klopp’s men could well sink Guardiola’s Armada.

Liverpool have stretched their unbeaten home run in the Premier League to 16 games and moved to second after yet another devastating performance at Anfield gave them a 4-1 win over West Ham.

Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan’s Brighton did their survival hopes a favour by beating Swansea by the same scoreline, while injured countryman Aaron Mooy’s Huddersfield also had a win, 2-1 over last-placed West Brom.

Ryan made a spectacular save to deny Ki Sung-yueng early in the second half with his side leading 1-0 thanks to Glenn Murray’s 18th-minute penalty.

On Merseyside the irrepressible Mohamed Salah scored his 31st goal in all competitions after setting up Emre Can’s opener and Roberto Firmino made it 3-0 before substitute Michail Antonio pulled one back in an action-packed encounter.

Can headed Liverpool into a 29th-minute lead after Salah swung in a corner and the Egyptian doubled the advantage in the 51st when he drilled an unstoppable shot into the far corner from 10 metres past the wrong-footed Adrian.

Firmino added the third six minutes later as he rounded the West Ham keeper and Sadio Mane scored Liverpool’s fourth with a simple tap-in after Antonio had given visiting fans something to cheer about with his first touch of the ball.

“I would say we are not second. It looks like this but if Man United wins tomorrow then we were second for a few hours.

“But to get the points is very important. In this situation we all put pressure on each other with results. That is how it is.”

In the late kick-off, Watford moved six points clear of the bottom three after defeating Everton 1-0 at Vicarage Road.

Troy Deeney scored the only goal of the game 11 minutes from time, taking a touch before turning and firing into the roof of the net, beating Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at his near post.

Earlier, an own goal by Stoke City keeper Jack Butland gifted Leicester City an equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium and denied Paul Lambert’s side a rare win on the road.

After Stoke took the lead through Xherdan Shaqiri’s third goal in successive league games just before the interval on Saturday, Butland parried the ball into his net when under no obvious pressure from Marc Albrighton’s 70th-minute cross.

Butland’s mistake was made all the more embarrassing by the presence of former England, Leicester and Stoke hero Peter Shilton in the stands although manager Paul Lambert refused to blame his keeper for the dropped point.

“He is the best goalkeeper in Britain,” said Lambert. “Since I have been at the club he has been huge. The mistake will be the making of him because it is all about how you deal with these things.”

Bournemouth and Newcastle played out a 2-2 draw while Burnley lost ground in their unlikely push for European football when they were held 1-1 at home by Southampton.