Liverpool were back to their best on Wednesday night as a thumping 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace moved them to within a whisker of a maiden Premier League title.
Having looked off the pace against Everton, the Reds posed more danger in the opening stages than they had done throughout the entire 90 minutes at Goodison Park. Despite that, their opener came from a dead ball situation, as Trent Alexander-Arnold curled a sumptuous free kick into the top corner 23 minutes in.
The home side grabbed the second goal their dominance deserved just before the break, with Mohamed Salah latching on to Fabinho's fine ball to fire home for the Reds' 100th Premier League goal of the season.
30 Premier League goal involvements for Trent Alexander-Arnold.— 90min (@90min_Football) June 24, 2020
Special talent. ⭐ pic.twitter.com/OJ3MTtbK5n
Fabinho got in on the act after the break, hitting an absolute rocket - from about 800 yards away - into the far corner with one of the sweetest strikes of a ball you'll see all season. Sadio Mane added gloss to the scoreline 20 minutes from time, with Liverpool's Premier League triumph possibly decided as early as Friday when Manchester City host Chelsea.
Key Talking Point
That Everton game was soooo bad. But if we've learnt anything from Liverpool this season, then it's that whenever they have any resemblance of a drop off in form, it rarely lasts.
On this occasion, it lasted just 90 minutes. Right from the off they got in Palace faces, hounding down possession and pressing so high up the pitch that their half needn't have been used at all. All the traits of the side we've grown to love were on display, almost as if they needed a game to just to get back into the swing of things. Odd, right?
Each member of the squad looked back to their best, almost matching the outrageous intensity that has put them within touching distance of Premier League glory. Will they need to head to the Etihad to clinch it, or will Chelsea grant them the title?
In all honesty, it matters very little. Liverpool were right back at it, showing us yet again why they stand head above heels over the rest of the division.
Liverpool Player Ratings
Starting XI: Alisson (7); Alexander-Arnold (8), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (8); Henderson (7), Fabinho (8*), Wijnaldum (7); Salah (8), Firmino (7), Mane (8).
Substitutes: Oxlade-Chamberlan (6), Williams (7), Minamino (6), Elliott (N/A).
What a hit by Fabinho. Pure strike. ? pic.twitter.com/p25kMAH9s9— 90min (@90min_Football) June 24, 2020
Remarkably, Fabinho has come under a bit of stick from Liverpool fans. He came back from a troubling injury before football was halted, and there were concerns his form was dropping off at an alarming rate.
Whoever you are, be quiet.
Fabinho is one of the finest defensive midfielders in Europe now. Whether it's recycling possession in the middle of the park, hitting a pin-point ball across the pitch or smashing a ridiculous thunderb--tard into the far corner, he can do it all. Everyone can stop whining now.
Key Talking Point
Every team will always bemoan their own injury record. Something along the lines of 'yes, but if' or, 'we're the unluckiest team' tend to be uttered. While Palace can't claim to be the worst affected, they've certainly been stunted with some key players unavailable.
Luka Milivojević is the steel in midfield, and Vicente Guaita is unquestionably a better goalkeeper than Wayne Hennessey, but when Wilfried Zaha was forced off mere minutes into the match, you feared the writing was on the wall.
There are clear areas of weakness in this Palace side - namely that nobody scores any goals unless they're from the penalty spot - so when injuries hit them as they have and mean they can't even field a full bench, Roy Hodgson will always be up against it against any side - not least the Premier League champions in waiting.
Crystal Palace Player Ratings
Starting XI: Hennessey (5); Ward (4), Cahill (6), Sakho (4), Van Aanholt (5); McCarthy (5), Townsend (4), McArthur (4), Kouyate (5), Zaha (N/A), Ajew (6*).
Substitutes: Meyer (4), Riedewald (5), Milivojevic (5), Pierrick (N/A).
Was he especially good? No. Were any of the Palace players especially good? No.
But at least Jordan Ayew flung himself about the pitch, tried to make darting runs down the inside channels and pressed for the ball. Starved of service throughout but not for a lack of trying.
It's a big one up next for Liverpool who travel to Manchester City knowing they may clinch the title at the Etihad, while Palace are back on home soil with a visit of Burnley.
Source : 90min