Nobody expected Crystal Palace to be a walk in the park, but you could probably say none of us were exactly looking for the heart attacks we sustained during the 4-3 match on Saturday. Playing Palace in the second half of an actual title challenge only brings back bad memories, and it was the job of this Liverpool squad to put those bad memories back in their box. Even if it meant a second yellow for James Milner and Sadio Mane finally slotting the ball diagonally past Julian Speroni in injury time, the size of the match wasn’t lost on captain Jordan Henderson.
“It is [a huge win]. Every game is massive. It’s an important three points again,” Henderson told the club website.
“It was a tough game and not what we would want in terms of performance – we can be much better in controlling [the match].
“We’ll analyse the game to see what we didn’t do as well. But, overall, we’ve got to be delighted again with the result.
“You’re not going to play as well as you’d like in every single game. So when you’re not flying or playing as well as you can, it’s important to find a way to win and keep going right until the end – and we managed to do that.”
‘Not playing as well as they can’ could honestly be the descriptor of not only this match, but much of this season. The first half of the season was full of nervy and oftentimes shaky victories before the holiday season, with talks of Liverpool not quite “clicking” yet going through fan channels. The major change in Liverpool this particular season, though, is that they’ve been able to keep their heads and fight their way back to any sort of victory - especially a good stoppage time one. That might not have started if Mohamed Salah hadn’t scored just at the start of the second half to get Liverpool back into it.
“He causes defenders nightmares all game. Again, he was brilliant,” adds the captain, of Salah.
“There are still positives to come out of it but still a lot to improve. But it’s the Premier League, it’s tough and you need to grind results out – that’s what we did. We wanted to start quickly in the second half, which we did, and still be patient with the ball and try to keep them moving.
“It was a great start for us but we’re disappointed, definitely, with the set-piece that they scored to get back level.
“But, again we showed great character to keep going and find a way. It’ll feel like a massive win, of course, but still we need to improve.”
Now there’s almost a blessing ahead with ten days of rest between now and our next match against Leicester on January 30th, and thankfully more time for those missing with injuries to get more fit. Just in time for a vital run up to the end of the season.
Liverpool still sit four points clear at the top of the table and we’re going to take every advantage we have to keep that gap.