Talking points: Closing the gap, Ali's influence, a double win and more

AnalysisTalking points: Closing the gap, Ali's influence, a double win and more

Published 23rd January 2022
By Sam Williams

Liverpool stood firm to claim a hard-earned 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.

Extended highlights: Palace 1-3 Liverpool

Goals from Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain crowned an utterly dominant first 35 minutes or so from the visitors at Selhurst Park, but Palace grew into the game and deservedly pulled a goal back through Odsonne Edouard soon after the break.

However, the Reds successfully navigated their way to a vital three points, which were sealed by Fabinho’s 89th-minute penalty. 

Here are five talking points on the action in south London…

Closing the gap

Victory, coupled with Manchester City’s draw with Southampton on Saturday, means Liverpool’s deficit at the top of the table has been reduced to nine points.

The Reds also have a game in hand on Pep Guardiola’s team, who they face at Etihad Stadium in April. 

“The only thing we can do is win football games... just win as many as you can,” Jürgen Klopp stated pre-match.

Consecutive triumphs over Brentford and Palace represent a strong start to that objective, and a home meeting with Leicester City is next up in the Premier League.

Ox goes back-to-back

It was a case of déjà vu as, just as was the case against Brentford last week, Andy Robertson teed up Oxlade-Chamberlain to score Liverpool’s second goal of the afternoon.

The No.15 recovered from an ankle issue sustained during that win over the Bees to reprise his role on the right of the Reds’ front three.

His hour on the pitch featured three shots and team-high totals of six touches in the opposition box and four ball regains in the final third. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain has also now scored in three of his last four starts.

Remarkable Robbo  

Robertson delivered two pinpoint crosses to set up Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain and further add to his extraordinary catalogue of assists. 

The left-back has now provided eight goals in 16 Premier League appearances in 2021-22; a tally that takes him into third place in the running for the division’s Playmaker of the Season award. 

The only two players above him in that particular race? 

Trent Alexander-Arnold (10 assists) and Mohamed Salah (nine). 

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Priceless Alisson 

“As good as Caoimhin is, it was no doubt that Ali will come back.”

So said Klopp during his pre-match interview and, yet again, his No.1 proved pricelessly influential to ensure Liverpool claimed all three points.

Edouard’s goal was just reward for Palace, who enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure in the period straddling half-time.

There was nothing Alisson could do to thwart Edouard - who rolled Jean-Philippe Mateta’s unselfish square pass home as the goalkeeper closed his strike partner down - but the Brazilian had already denied Michael Olise and Edouard to preserve his team’s advantage. 

He then clawed Olise’s lob to safety to keep the Reds 2-1 up, with Fabinho’s converted spot-kick quickly following.

Liverpool were unable to record a fourth consecutive clean sheet but that they picked up a crucial victory was in no small part down to the quality and authority of their ’keeper.

Palaces 1-7 Liverpools 

A quirk of fate dictated that Liverpool’s men’s and women’s teams both played Palace away from home on the same day, with the matches also kicking off simultaneously.

And it proved to be a perfect day all-round in south London, as Matt Beard’s side mirrored their male counterparts by winning. 

Indeed, LFC Women managed to do so in even more convincing fashion, with Yana Daniels’ double and goals from Katie Stengel and Rachel Furness earning a 4-0 success that means they sit seven points clear at the top of the FA Women’s Championship.

Up the Reds… x2! 

Published 23rd January 2022