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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Nervy Win Over Crystal Palace

After a dominant first half, Liverpool struggled mightily in the second half, but held on for a 3-1 win over a game Crystal Palace side.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Liverpool have enjoyed great success against Crystal Palace in recent history, drubbing them 7-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season. It looked like Liverpool would continue their dominance, taking control of the game and putting massive pressure on Crystal Palace. The Reds scored two in the first half, and looked like they might cruise to a comfortable win, but Patrick Viera’s side came out took it to Liverpool in the second half. Heroics from Alisson kept Crystal Palace from scoring an equalizer, and a controversial late penalty gave Liverpool a 3-1 win.

Let’s take a look at some of the winners, losers, and other narratives around the game.


Winners

Alisson
Liverpool are blessed with two extremely good goalkeepers, as we have seen this past week. Alisson was back in net for the Premier League match, and showed why he is widely considered one of the top handful of keepers in the world. He made several absolutely massive saves from close range, and also showed great quickness to get back and claw the ball away from goal when Olise put the ball over his head when he came off of his line. Alisson also got a hand down to knock down a headed back pass from Andy Robertson that could have gone for an own goal if it had gone past the keeper.

Andy Robertson
Despite the headed back pass snafu, Andy Robertson was sensational on the day. The Scottish left back had two assists in the first half, one from a corner kick, the other a cross from open play. The cross to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the second goal moved Robbo into third place in the Premier League for assists...behind teammates Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Ox was in a race for fitness to play in this match after taking an ankle knock last week that kept him out of the EFL Cup semifinal match with Arsenal on Thursday. He’s not Mohamed Salah out there, but showed good movement from his spot as the wide forward on the right, and continually found space to get onto the end of moves in and around the box throughout the first half. His goal was extremely well taken, pulling wide in the box to create space for himself to receive the cross from Robertson before chesting the ball down and hitting the ball strongly on the half volley with his off foot.

Marginal Calls
Liverpool have had their fair share of marginal calls go against them, but the Reds came out on the better end of referee decisions that could have gone either way today. The obvious one was the penalty, where Diogo Jota had a poor touch to send the ball towards the end line before Vicente Guaita collided with him. Kevin Friend initially waved the penalty appeal off, but VAR took several minutes before calling Friend over to the monitor, where it was deemed that Guaita impeded Jota from following the ball that he might have gotten to.

Liverpool also might have gotten just a little bit lucky on the second goal as Roberto Firmino was a hair offside when he jumped to head the ball that ultimately went over him and to Ox. A defender stayed with Firmino and jumped with him, so it could have been deemed that Firmino influenced the play from an offside position.

Dominance over Crystal Palace
It might not have been a dominant performace on the day, but Liverpool continued their run of great results over Crystal Palace with the win.


Losers

Joel Matip
Joel Matip has quietly been one of the best Liverpool players this season, but the lanky center back had his second game in a row where he struggled mightily. Matip had some very uncharacteristic turnovers, especially as there was little to no pressure on him for several of them.

Second Half Control
Two seasons ago, when Liverpool won the Premier League, they were absolutely sensational at controlling the game in the second half, suffocating teams of space and possession in dangerous areas. This year, Liverpool have struggled to take the game by the scruff of the neck when leading several times, letting teams like Brentford and Brighton back into matches. They almost let it go again today if not for the heroics of Alisson. There were just too many turnovers in bad positions, with several of them coming from no real pressure.


From the Manager

“I said to him ‘thank you for saving our ass again’ he said ‘it’s my job’!”

-Jurgen Klopp speaking of goalkeeper Alisson Becker


What Happens Next

Liverpool will have a full week off before hosting Cardiff City in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Depending on the results in the African Cup of Nations knockout rounds, Liverpool could have one or all of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita back for the match.