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Super Alisson, Matip & title hope boost? – Last word on Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool

A 3-1 win made for three wins in a row for Liverpool but it was not all smooth sailing against Crystal Palace as Jurgen Klopp‘s side looked to be their own worst enemy.

Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made sure the Reds’ early dominance was reflected where it mattered most, and they needed to as the Eagles wormed their way back into the game.

It was mostly of Liverpool’s own doing and Alisson had to bail out his side more times than one would be comfortable with, before Fabinho settled the game after a controversial penalty decision.

Liverpool can now head into the break on a high before competing across four different competitions in the space of 21 days.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) are joined by Ben Kelly (@bkelly776) to talk all things Alisson, selection and if the flame still flickers for the title.

 

Alisson was the obvious standout, wasn’t he…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 23, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: He was outstanding. This is exactly why he was worth £75 million and why many consider him the best in the world in his position.

Before the game, I saw a bizarre stat doing the rounds on social media that showed how David de Gea had made more saves this season than Alisson and Ederson combined.

I have no idea why anyone would see this as a good thing. A high volume of shots faced, and therefore saves made, was the main reason Simon Mignolet looked so solid at Sunderland, and look where that got us.

But when Alisson needs to make saves, he does so with world-class quality. Genuinely have no idea which was my favourite!

BEN: Agreed. Alisson was outstanding again. He didn’t have a lot to do in the first half an hour, but he was called upon for those two first-half saves (one of which was offside) and was up to the task.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 23, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes a save from Crystal Palace's Odsonne Édouard during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It must be so deflating for sides knowing that even if they cut through the likes of Virgil and Fabinho, they still have to beat a monster like him. He’s incredible and more than likely the reason we held on to win the game.

Also, his hair/beard combination is outstanding.

JOANNA: Outstanding really was the word, wasn’t it? The guys have nailed it there, there’s no way we end up winning that without him.

He was calm and focused while others were flagging and I know it was offside, but that strong arm of his in the first half was simply exceptional and it may be tied with the late lobbed effort he pushed to the side.

There’s no one else I’d rather have.

 

It was a quick turnaround, but should Matip have ever started?

JACK: Obviously we’re not privy to the workings of Liverpool’s medical staff, but on the face of it, no.

Having struggled in the first half in midweek, Klopp explained how he had taken Joel off due to a minor fitness issue, with it clear he was a doubt for the weekend.

It was a big surprise, then, that he started rather than Konate.

Klopp argued that a Thursday-Sunday turnover was a “normal rhythm” for Liverpool, but when it came to Matip, it certainly did not seem that way.

He has been our best centre-back this season, but one of the key factors behind that was the way his fitness has been managed; this was one of those occasions when Konate, or even Gomez (remember him?), should have stepped in.

JOANNA: I’m of similar mind, Jack. Matip was taken off at half-time at Arsenal and whether for a fitness issue or for form, it seemed nailed on that he’d have a break.

With Konate and even Gomez there, it made all the sense in the world to keep things fresh, utilise the squad and provide Matip with an extended break.

What we then saw were some pretty sloppy passes that put us in trouble and there’s no doubting his quality, it just didn’t seem as though it was a selection that needed to be made.

No harm done but when Konate, especially, can step in then he should.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté celebrates his side's fifth goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BEN: For me, I’ve got nothing against Matip starting, personally, he’s been outstanding all season despite struggling a bit on Thursday.

The pass that led to Olise chance was really sloppy though, and such a needless yet risky decision. I suppose I’m not sure what’s changed for him, he doesn’t seem to have had any injury issues of late.

So I think, for now, there’s no real cause for concern.

The more I see of Konate though, the more impressed I am, and it certainly feels like a case of when not if, he becomes Van Dijk’s long-term partner.

 

We’re now 9 behind City with a game in hand, where does your hope level sit?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 23, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BEN: We have the break now, which will do the entire squad a load of good. When we start playing again we should see the return of Salah, Mane, Thiago and Elliott, which will mean a fully fit and available squad.

Six points isn’t impossible nor should it feel impossible, but I think winning the title involves Liverpool going on a Man City-style winning streak in this second half of the season, and I’m just not sure I see that happening.

We are not controlling games when ahead with the same authority that we were two/three years ago.

I still think the priority should be putting as much attention as can into the cups for the time being, and we can revisit the title talk if Man City drop any more points. For now, I still don’t think the picture has changed too much.

JOANNA: I know what they mean when they say it’s the hope that kills you!

As Ben mentioned, six points, should we win our game in hand, isn’t insurmountable especially when you consider that we still have to play City in April.

That means the hope barometer has certainly risen for me, even if just a little bit. There’s a lot of football still to play but Liverpool will need to be nearly perfect.

Liverpool can’t be giving me heart palpitations like that every game though, I won’t survive so it’s best if the Reds just figure out how to shut shop again!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 23, 2022: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (3rd from L) celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: Much, much higher than it was just over a week ago. What does that say about the short memory of the modern football fan?!

The Southampton draw was a godsend, but Liverpool still had to get the job done at Selhurst, and that penalty drama seemed like one of those moments we could look back on come May.

Being nine points behind, with a very hit-and-miss Leeds side to play in the game in hand, is a much stronger position than it would seem.

All being well, that trip to the Etihad in April could be huge.

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