As always, only good things come from leading 3-0 at Crystal Palace, and Liverpool kept up that run by absolutely demolishing their former manager — and a few former players — in Saturday’s early kickoff.
The Reds put on an unbelievably clinical performance, putting Palace to the sword at every opportunity, and below, we take a closer look at how it happened and who the main contributors were.
Si Señor Boberto Firmino: Always susceptible to complaints he doesn’t score enough goals, Roberto Firmino’s drought this season — just two goals in 20 appearances for the Reds, and just one goal involvement overall in the past two months — saw even more detractors than usual sharpening their knives.
A last-gasp match winner against Spurs in midweek — his tenth decisive goal, more than any other player under Jürgen Klopp — lightened the mood somewhat, and a man of the match performance tonight should ensure Liverpool’s number nine is given further breathing room.
The Brazilian was outstanding against Palace, and his impudent goals aside — a perfect touch and outside the boot finish after starting the counter attack for the first, and a perfect chip off his weak foot for the second — he displayed the typical amount of graft and creativity across the pitch.
Diogo Jota may be a threat to replace any of the front three on any given night, but the Portuguese attacker will be missing for another month, and Firmino showed tonight that the Reds will probably be able to handle his absence with aplomb.
TAKIII: Speaking of highly criticised false nines struggling to score goals, Takumi Minamino broke his Premier League duck! The Japanese attacker has put up goals in cup competitions this season, scoring in both the EFL Cup and Community Shield, but the league is the big one, and proving that he can translate his game into matches that truly matter will be a big deal for the former Salzburg man.
The 25-year old was characteristically busy off the ball as well, harrying defenders and making inviting runs, but will look to add more involvements inside the 18-yard box if he is to have a this kind of impact consistently.
Getting Healthy Question Mark: Naby Keïta started today for the first time in four weeks, finishing 90 minutes for the first time in almost exactly a year, and the Guinean looked quick and alert, if not quite as sharp on the ball as he can be. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was introduced in the second half, playing his first minutes of the season after another knee injury sidelined him back in August.
Trent Alexander-Arnold appears fully back to fitness following his hamstring injury, Joël Matip’s back spasms have cleared up, Thiago is reportedly back in training, and James Milner should be available in a week or two. Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk remain out for the long-term, but it appears the Reds have managed an absurdly rough patch of injuries incredibly well, and could be getting healthy at just the right time.
I dunno, Sadio was pretty mad when he was substituted, I guess? But that was mostly funny. Even Roy seemed to take the defeat in good spirits. Mostly, this was just a great performance where everybody shone at least a little and we’re not gonna try and find any negatives.
Fun with Numbers
With tonight’s historic win, the Reds cancel out their drubbing at Aston Villa and top the table not only in points, but in goal difference — +17 — and goals scored — 36 — as well, leading the latter category by a full ten goals ahead of Chelsea.
The Reds are the league’s prime entertainers as well, with their games averaging 3.9 goals in total, so anybody who says they hate watching Liverpool do so for their own reasons that must be unrelated to entertainment value.
Tonight’s win was the club’s biggest away win in the league since 1896, 124 years ago, and this is only the second time in Premier League history that a club has scored and conceded at least seven goals in individual games.
With seven different players assisting a goal, Liverpool broke another record, as that feat has never been accomplished in the English top flight before.
Assisting his fifth of the campaign, Andrew Robertson now has 28 goal assists since the start of the 2018/19 season, sitting top of that table alongside Kevin De Bruyne. Trent Alexander-Arnold has 27.
What Happens Next
Liverpool have eight days off..? That can’t be right. It’s true, though, as the Reds won’t play again until they host West Bromwich Albion on December 27th. The Baggies recently appointed Sam Allardyce, fresh off a 30-month layoff from football, and the 66-year old was the last man to mastermind an away league win at Anfield, when he managed Crystal Palace to a 2-1 victory in April 2017. Reds fans will hope to avoid any sort of historical symmetry on this one.
Up the topping the table at Christmas Reds!