SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

Comeback kings & Elliott earns start? – Last word on Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool made life difficult for themselves at Selhurst Park, but were able to come away with three more vital points that placed them on top of the Premier League pile.

The Reds were forced to come from behind after Jean-Philippe Mateta converted a penalty shortly before the hour after an extended VAR check.

Jordan Ayew then saw red for two bookable offences after 75 minutes, before Mohamed Salah and Harvey Elliott turned the game on its head to seal another crucial win.

Adam Beattie (@beatts94) and David Comerford (@Dave_Comerford) are here to unpack yet another comeback victory for Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds.

 

Another comeback win, any concerns that we had to do it the hard way again?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: Results are everything in football, but poor performances do catch up with you over time.

Just look at Manchester United – Erik ten Hag won manager of the month for November but everyone could see the problems in that team even when they were picking up points, and Bournemouth exposed them brutally on Saturday.

Liverpool are obviously much better, but the other difference is that they’ve been doing this for a sustained period of time.

That’s one loss in 26 matches now stretching back to April, and we all know the circumstances of that defeat.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In that period, they’ve put up a title-winning PPG without consistently producing seven, eight or nine out of 10 displays. Liverpool aren’t perfect, but they have a level of resilience and squad depth befitting a title winner.

Right now, they look like the kind of results machine we saw in 2019/20, albeit a level below.

ADAM: You rarely get gifts in this league and no team are making it look easy at the moment. Of course, it would be nice to have made it a bit less stressful, but that’s not how life works!

December is going to be relentless and results are ultimately going to be what matter as David says, we did plenty of this in 2019/20 and that didn’t work out too badly!

 

Van Dijk looked imperious again, is he back to his very best?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk celebrates at the final whistle after the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: He’s been tremendous all season and we’re getting a timely reminder of just how crucial he was when we won the lot.

I don’t believe he dropped off quite to the extent that some will have you believe last season, but when his standards are so high any frailties are always likely to be magnified.

Alisson also proved just how important he is yesterday with a couple of huge saves. Those two are going to go down as all-time greats, without question.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's match-winning goal-scorer Harvey Elliott celebrates with captain Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: I still don’t quite think it’s the Virgil van Dijk of 2019 – we probably saw that with the slightly clumsy challenge on Edouard to give away a penalty before VAR intervened – but it’s certainly up there with the best he’s looked since returning from injury.

I like to think that the fear factor surrounding him for attackers, which significantly diminished last season, will be returning. The stat that circulated this week about him not being dribbled past says it all in that regard.

 

How would you sum up our title credentials based on what you’ve seen so far this season?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: We’re in it for the long haul now, there’s no hiding from that anymore!

I’ve always been of the belief that if we finish above Man City the league is ours, but I think we’re going to have to assume that Arsenal are capable of keeping the pace this season.

The two games between now and Christmas are massive. If we take four points from those we’re in good shape and if we take all six we’re in business.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates at the final whistle after the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: This is a Liverpool team that clearly has some weaknesses, and I’m not sure to what extent things will all ‘click’, but they certainly have what it takes to at least be a serious contender, which – let’s remember – is more than the vast majority of people expected at the start of the season.

If Manchester City have regressed this year, then Liverpool will be in an unfamiliar position where they won’t require perfection to win the league.

You only have to beat what’s in front of you, and City look as poor defensively as they have for a very long time. Arsenal probably face the most glaring problem of the three teams in the goalkeeper department.

 

Elliott has been excellent when he has been used this season, has he earned himself a league start?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's match-winning goal-scorer Harvey Elliott celebrates at the final whistle after the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: Harvey Elliott is probably nailed-on to start the Europa League dead-rubber against Union-SG on Thursday, and if he plays well again there then I think he’ll start against Manchester United rather than Curtis Jones or Ryan Gravenberch.

I can’t recall many players in the Klopp era who have consistently made the kind of impact off the bench he has this season, but for whatever reason he hasn’t quite been able to reach the same level when he’s started, and that means he’s found himself in a bit of a loop. Thursday will be key.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott celebrates after scoring the winning second goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: He’s got every right to be knocking at the manager’s door this week, without a shadow of a doubt.

It’s been tough for him this season because of the depth we’ve got in that position, but he’s doing everything that’s being asked of him at a time where a few of of the midfielders look to be toiling just a fraction.

 

Finally, who was man of the match for you?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates at the final whistle after the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: I know Joe Gomez won it officially, and it was refreshing to see somebody execute the kind of quick combination play that had been missing from Liverpool’s attack, but I’ll say Alisson.

That save in the first half was staggering, and somehow it’s not even the best he’s made this season. If that had gone in, I don’t think anybody would be asking questions, which is the best way I can sum up how impressive it was.

The reactions right at the end to deny Andersen were superb too, even if he was probably offside.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates at the final whistle after the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: Van Dijk feels like the obvious choice to me, but of the substitutes, Elliott and Gomez were both brilliant when they came on.

The manager has used his bench excellently this season, with Cody Gakpo and Curtis Jones also proving to be influential when they came on.

I’ll give it to the skipper, but the changes were what won us that game.