As Liverpool make it out of the winter and into the spring, every game becomes more important in their title challenge. Crystal Palace, game 23 of the league season, was victory number 19 for the Reds and helped them maintain their four point lead over Manchester City.
It was also kind of a pain. Liverpool went behind at Anfield, something that hasn’t happened much this season. They let Palace score three goals — the most of any team in the league this season — before managing to pull out a victory in the end.
The difficulty of this game could be attributed, at least in part, to Liverpool’s injury woes. Joël Matip returned to the team after an extended spell on the sidelines, but Trent Alexander-Arnold was kept out of the game, along with Gini Wijnaldum, Dejan Lovren, and Joe Gomez. Plenty of these players could be closer to match fitness when they player Leicester City after their 11-day break.
All of these things just make Saturday’s victory all the sweeter. And game-winner Sadio Mané, who scored Liverpool’s crucial fourth goal, understands the significance of this achievement.
Was it their biggest win of the season?
“100%,” responded Mané, when asked that by the official site.
“For sure, it was not our best performance but the most important thing for us was the three points. We got them and everybody is happy. They played very well in the first half. They scored goals, they were very compact and it was difficult for us to pass between the lines.
“In the second half, we tried to push with the fans behind us and we scored two quick goals. At 3-2 it became more difficult and then we scored a fourth goal. It was still a very tough game but [we got] three points.”
I hate to spout a cliche, but these kinds of the games are the ones you see champions win. We’ve seen the Reds blow teams away. We’ve seen them hold onto tenuous 1-0 scorelines to claim all three points. But this was the first time this season when we’ve seen them gut it out and simply refuse to let their opponents outscore them — even when it meant needing to score four themselves to do it.
Now they get a much-needed mini-break in Dubai to relax, regain their fitness and prepare to tackle the rest of the season.