Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool survived an early scare to see off Crystal Palace 4-3 and establish a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were left reeling by Andros Townsend’s 34th-minute opener which had given the visitors a surprise half-time lead.
But Salah pulled Liverpool level within moments of the restart and the leaders rode their luck to edge ahead in the 53rd minute through Roberto Firmino’s heavily-deflected strike.
Here are the main Liverpool talking points.
THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF BITES BACK
The mob were ready and waiting to spit their fire the moment Salah collapsed following minimal contact from Mamadou Sakho.
To be fair, in this instance, Salah was indeed the boy who cried wolf. There was a touch, but it was soft and it didn’t warrant a foul or a penalty.
Obviously this sounded the critics on every platform, but then the Egyptian reminded us all of what we really should be talking about when he emerged from the break, baring teeth and predatory instinct.
Indeed, he bit back immediately after the restart with a finish of fine finesse, capitalising on Virgil van Dijk’s blocked shot to contort his body and flick the ball past Julian Speroni with the outside of his left boot.
He would again show the senses of a killer later in the half when Speroni disastrously clawed James Milner’s awkward bounced cross towards his own net, allowing Salah to just nip in and boost his numbers.
Incidentally, those statistics are mightily impressive. Salah has hit 16 goals in the Premier League this season, he’s the top scorer.
His second against Palace was a landmark 50th in the English top flight (48 for the Reds, two for Chelsea) and he’s the joint fourth fastest to reach that total alongside another Liverpool favourite, Fernando Torres, doing so in 72 appearances.
In purely Liverpool terms, it’s 48 in 59 league games. It’s an absurd record from a phenomenal player.
The theatrics aren’t great, but he’s pure entertainment.
Naby Keita was a surprise inclusion when the team sheet was released, and that’s a bit of an odd statement to make considering the fanfare which met his £52.75 million switch from Leipzig.
Klopp deployed the 4-2-3-1 set-up which usually caters for Xherdan Shaqiri’s inclusion with Keita in the Swiss wrecking ball’s place.
The thinking was that the Guinea international had “trained outstandingly well” and Klopp wanted “to show that I see something like that.”
But the German didn’t see his transition to the Anfield pitch. In fact, he won’t have seen much at all.
Keita touched the ball 59 times – Salah was the only outfield player from the XI with less – of which one key pass and no shots were recorded.
Yet, his quiet display wasn’t entirely his own fault. Indeed, Keita is an all-action box-to-box midfielder, and here he was stationed wide left. A dynamic operator, he thrives and embraces in the middle of the park.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have hidden from this fixture quite in the way he did, but it’s obvious if Klopp wants to utilise the effective 4-2-3-1 against sides with a deep block, that Keita should occupy the central role.
ZAHA IS WORTH A LOOK
This idea was borrowed from Liverpool Echo reporter Ian Doyle and it’s one to consider.
The way Wilfried Zaha destroyed James Milner on Saturday did make you think the Crystal Palace winger would be worth a look from Liverpool’s perspective.
Zaha is a disruption. Every time he entered a one-on-one duel with Milner you knew the makeshift full-back was about to flat-lined.
He breezed past him and then delivered a perfect ball for Andros Townsend to fire the opener and it’s that ability to break down defences which would prove to be a valuable back-up to the likes of Sadio Mane.
Granted, Zaha probably wouldn’t desire a rotational role, and rightly so, but it’s potentially a deal worth exploring if Liverpool want to push on all trophy fronts over the next few seasons.
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