Jamie Carragher: Cody Gakpo brilliant against Man Utd and Liverpool’s new front three shows signs of blossoming | Football News
Jamie Carragher has labelled Cody Gakpo a “revelation” for his starring role in Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Manchester United and feels there are signs of a new front three blossoming.
Gakpo, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez scored twice each in the historic triumph over Erik ten Hag’s side at Anfield as Liverpool boosted their top-four prospects in stunning style.
Jurgen Klopp’s side came into the game having only won four of their last 12 games in all competitions, with their new-look attack struggling to gel for much of the campaign.
But Carragher feels Sunday’s devastating display highlights the chemistry Nunez, Salah and January signing Gakpo are building as Liverpool look to construct a front three to rival their previous triumvirate of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
“On the back of the announcement of Roberto Firmino not being at the club next season, Sadio Mane moving on at the start of the season, and Liverpool just not being at the races for a lot of this season, it felt nice to see Gakpo, Nunez and Salah – still with [Luis] Diaz to come back and [Diogo] Jota on the bench – and what could be the makings of a new front three,” said Carragher.
“Will it ever get to that level [of the previous front three]? We don’t know. But let’s not forget Manchester United are top-quality opposition. Going into this game, probably one of the most in-form teams in Europe.
“So, for your attacking players to be that devastating on the day and score that amount of goals I think bodes well for the future, in terms of Liverpool getting back to their old selves, taking teams apart and scoring goals.”
Carragher felt it was a breakout performance by Gakpo, who had only scored twice in his first 11 games for Liverpool following his £45m move from PSV Eindhoven in January. The Sky Sports pundit praised Klopp for the way in which he deployed him.
“He has been getting goals but this was a brilliant performance,” he said of Gakpo. “What I would say about Gakpo and Harvey Elliott is that they were the two positions that were up for grabs.
“I’ll be honest with you, I wanted Jota to play instead of Gakpo, because I thought he’d be better at pressing from the front, and that Liverpool could win the ball back there. And I thought [Stefan] Bajcetic had been performing better than Elliott, so I was a bit surprised.
“But I think Jurgen Klopp got it right. Tactically, it was fantastic and the role of Gakpo and Harvey Elliott was key in that.
“We know Manchester United go man to man. Fred is with [Jordan] Henderson. [Wout] Weghorst’s job is to look after Fabinho, that’s why he played No 10, and Casemiro’s job is to look after Harvey Elliott.
“But what Liverpool did was they had a set-up that was almost like a diamond, or a box, and it was, ‘Who’s going to pick up Gakpo?’
“I think Jurgen Klopp did this because they go man-for-man. The idea was to get Gakpo and Elliott in the half-spaces, as Jurgen Klopp speaks about so often.”
Gakpo and Elliott’s positioning ensured Manchester United’s midfield two of Casemiro and Fred became stretched, explained Carragher.
“What that did was, it created a huge space and gulf in that Manchester United midfield,” he added. “The two central midfield players were 27 yards apart.
“And who is with Gakpo? Nobody. Gakpo can pick it up in the half-space with no one with him. The deployment of Gakpo from Jurgen Klopp was fantastic.”
Carra: Third goal was a ‘wow’ moment
Carragher was particularly impressed by Gakpo’s role in Liverpool’s third goal, which he scored himself, lifting a delicate finish over David de Gea having slid a pass through to Salah from inside his own half, then accelerated into the United box.
“This, for me, was an absolute ‘wow’ moment of the day,” said Carragher. “Yes. There are seven goals and there’s a lot you can pick out.
“I love the composure he shows with the pass to Salah, because he is getting challenged by Antony.
“He could play it [early], but Luke Shaw is blocking the pass. He just waits for the space to open up and then he’s off.
“I’ll be honest, watching Gakpo, I didn’t think he had this,” added Carragher of Gakpo’s burst of acceleration into the box.
“I thought he’s got to play centrally. I don’t really see him as a wide player even though that was his role at PSV, because I didn’t think he had the pace.
“But the running power he has here was absolutely fantastic. And that finish is world-class. That’s how the best players in world football finish. From the tightest of angles, and don’t forget how far he has run, he must have been knackered.
“You see the celebration in front of the Kop, but he for me was the big revelation of the day, and maybe there are signs of a new front three blossoming right now.”