Mohamed Salah shines but Jurgen Klopp boosted as Liverpool contribute as a collective
Liverpool's 3-0 win over Bournemouth last Saturday looked very comfortable but it was only possible because of the impressive work ethic and attitude shown by Jurgen Klopp's players. It would have been easy for them to take their foot off the gas following their midweek heroics against Manchester City in the Champions League, but to their credit there was no let up whatsoever.
Bournemouth have been in good form since the turn of the year but they were never allowed to get a foothold in the game as Liverpool turned the screw from the opening whistle.
Klopp was gushing in his praise for his team after the game, with their relentless counter-pressing a particular source of pride. When Liverpool are on their game like that they can be almost impossible to play against, and Bournemouth did well to stay in the game for as long as they did.
It's all coming together at just the right time for the Merseysiders, who are in better form now than they have been in at any point during the season. They've been brilliant in attack all year of course, but many of the fine results they achieved earlier in the campaign were built on the flimsiest of foundations.
While the forward players filled their boots at one end, the defence often struggled to keep the goals out at the other. It wasn't just one or two here and there either, some of the defensive collapses were truly alarming; three goals conceded in a second half against Sevilla, three in five minutes at Arsenal, four goals away to Tottenham and five at the Etihad against Manchester City. Teams with aspirations of success don't do that.
Any praise for Liverpool was invariably followed by a "but" and then some disparaging remarks about their inability to defend. Not any more.
The Reds aren't perfect defensively but they are massively improved and in their last 14 games they have kept nine clean sheets. Big money January signing Virgil van Dijk is a big reason for that but it would be doing the rest of the players a disservice to heap all the credit on to the big Dutchman's broad shoulders.
There isn't a single player in this Liverpool team right now who isn't right at the top of his game. From goalkeeper to centre forward, every member of Klopp's side is making a big contribution and playing with extreme confidence. The front three hog most of the headlines but they will be the first to say they couldn't do it without the contributions of those playing behind them.
Whether it's attacking or defending, Liverpool do it as a team and that is their biggest strength. Individuals are shining within that team framework of course -- none brighter than 40-goal Mohamed Salah -- but this Liverpool side is carrying no passengers and that is a rare thing.
It hasn't always been that way. Dejan Lovren is much maligned yet he's been tremendous of late, while as recently as three weeks ago Trent Alexander-Arnold was seen by many as being a weak link following some difficult moments that led to goals being conceded against Manchester United and Crystal Palace.
Since then the teenager has responded with three performances of such high quality that he may have been Liverpool's best player in each of those three games. No mean feat when there have been star performers all over the pitch.
The youngster is absolutely brimming with confidence now and his delivery from the right flank against Bournemouth was fantastic, with the inch perfect pass he dropped on to the head of Salah to make it 2-0 a particular highlight.
Alexander-Arnold was given the man of the match award but Klopp felt differently when he was asked about it. The Reds' boss singled out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as his star man but there was very little to choose between the pair.
Both players earned nine out of 10 and in recent weeks there have been plenty of similarly high grades for the young English duo. Alexander-Arnold even earned a rare perfect 10 after the 3-0 first leg victory over City.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's influence on the team has been growing by the week since the turn of the year. Klopp wants to him to break forward with the ball and make things happen in the final third, either with his explosive shooting from distance or by feeding the ball to the front three.
Against Bournemouth he did that time and again and it might just have been his most complete performance yet. He was inches away with a low drive, he created one goal for Firmino and had the Brazilian been more clinical it would have been two assists for "Ox".
He could prove to be Liverpool's 'X-Factor" in the coming weeks because opponents are understandably going to zone in on stopping the front three, but Oxlade-Chamberlain breaking from the middle of the park can be extremely difficult to stop. Just ask Manchester City.
Liverpool look to be peaking at the perfect time of the season and if they can continue to get such a high level of performance from players not widely regarded as their "stars" then it's going to take a special performance -- or some very good fortune -- for anyone to beat them.
Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.