Matchweek 30 of the Premier League produced a number of notable individual performances – Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph, Manchester City’s David Silva, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez – but one man stood tall among the masses, Steven Gerrard.
The 33-year-old midfielder has shown no signs of slowing down this season, scoring 10 goals and providing 9 assists in 25 matches for Liverpool. His play is even more impressive when considering where Liverpool sits in the table – 2nd, four points shy of leaders Chelsea with a game in hand – and that manager Brendan Rodgers has his skipper playing in a deeper role this season.
Heading into Sunday’s clash with rivals Manchester United, the storyline leading every major publication concerned the role reversal between the two squads and how this time around it was the Red Devils who looked to play the role of spoiler. Having displayed a decent improvement in form of late gave United a boost, as did the home field advantage of playing at Old Trafford.
So it was up to Gerrard to ensure his side came out firing and stayed focused throughout the 90 minutes. Mission accomplished. Within 34 minutes of play Rafael’s handball gave Liverpool the opportunity to snag an early lead. It was a chance that Gerrard made sure to take.
Cooly dispatching his pen into the top corner, Gerrard secured the Reds an early lead that they proved hell-bent on not relinquishing. Twelve minutes later Gerrard was asked to execute from the spot once again and he duly complied, kissing the camera in celebration and conjuring up memories of Liverpool’s dominant 4-1 victory over United in March 2009.
While his third pen found the post, Gerrard ensured his squad the three points by putting in a shift on the defensive side of the field, making four tackles, three interceptions and nabbing in a match-high 12 possessions gained.
That’s the kind of effort that earns you the nickname, ‘Captain Fantastic’, and the accolade of Premier League Player of the Week.
Liverpool came out with a furious pace in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, but the Reds suffered a massive blow heading into halftime despite their match with Real Madrid remaining scoreless.
Leading goalscorer Mohamed Salah was guided off the pitch by the Reds training staff, after suffering an apparent shoulder injury at the half hour mark.
Meanwhile, Real had its own injury scary just minutes after when right back Dani Carvajal left the game with a leg injury.
The Reds had their share of early chances, including Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s blast that forced a quality save out of Keylor Navas, but the Premier League side couldn’t break the deadlock.
Real seemed to benefit significantly from Salah’s absence though, and Los Blancos nearly took full advantage in the latter stages of the first half.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s close-range header was saved well by Loris Karius, before Karim Benzema’s follow-up attempt went in the back of the net, but was ruled offside.
45 more minutes to play.
Mohamed Salah‘s involvement in the UEFA Champions League final lasted less than 30 minutes.
Salah, Liverpool’s leading goalscorer with 44 goals in all competitions this season, landed heavily on his left shoulder after a challenge with Sergio Ramos.
The Egyptian forward tried to get up but couldn’t shake off the injury and was in tears as he walked off the pitch in the European final.
Early reports state that Salah suffered a dislocated shoulder in the challenge, which will mean he is in a race against time to be for the 2018 World Cup in a few weeks.
Ramos will no doubt receive plenty of questions as to his role in Salah’s injury as the Spanish defender made sure Liverpool’s main man hit the floor hard and locked his right arm in during the duel.
All of the focus will now be on Salah to see if he can be fit enough to play for Egypt at the World Cup this summer.
Salah is the main man for the Pharaohs, as he helped them qualify for their first World Cup since 1990.
Pro Soccer Talk takes a look at some of the day’s biggest transfer stories, including Manchester United possibly parting ways with one of its most-known stars.
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Paul Pogba‘s return to Old Trafford has been anything but routine, and it appears his relationship with manager Jose Mourinho is severely damaged.
Don Balon suggests that United would be willing to include Pogba in a deal that sends the France international to Real Madrid, along with a large transfer sum, assuming Madrid parts ways with Toni Kroos.
The Red Devils paid over $118 million to sign Pogba back from Juventus, however, the midfielder has struggled to influence United with just 11 league goals over two seasons.
Staying in Manchester, Pep Guardiola isn’t done building his stacked roster.
Mundo Deportivo is reporting that Guardiola and Manchester City are readying a bid of over $90 million to sign Real Madrid and Spain international Isco.
Isco, 26, has become one of the biggest creators in Real’s attack over recent seasons, however, the Spaniard is reportedly growing tired of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Finally, Borussia Dortmund’s interest in Michy Batshuayi was made known this past season, and the German giants are prepared to bring the Belgium international in on a full-time basis.
Dortmund is currently in negotiations with Chelsea to make Batshuayi’s deal a permanent one in Bundesliga.
During his time with the German side, Batshuayi totaled nine goals in all competitions, including seven in league play.
This is it. The curtain comes down on the domestic season in Europe as Real Madrid and Liverpool clash in the UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine.
[ LIVE: Champions League final ]
In sunny conditions in the Ukrainian capital, the two highest-scoring teams in the UCL this season meet with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah the danger men.
For Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid, they’re aiming for a third-straight European title which would hammer home their dominance on the European stage once again. Real seeking their 13th title to extend their own record of European trophies is a daunting prospect for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool…
That said, with Mohamed Salah having the season of dreams the Anfield club believe destiny is playing its part once again as they’re in their first European final since 2007. Klopp has lost all five of his major finals as a manager and surely his luck has to change some time soon.
Click on the link above to follow all of the action from Kiev live, while we will have reaction and analysis right here on Pro Soccer Talk.