SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) celebrates with match-winning goal-scorer Harvey Elliott 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)

Liverpool “dominant” in “scrappy” win – but are the comebacks sustainable?

The full-time whistle brought a serious sense of relief among Liverpool’s support, and left the press the job of analysing yet another comeback.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side just continue to pick up points. They have shown time and again this season that the ‘mentality monsters’ are back, and the win against Crystal Palace was further proof.

With a far-from-convincing performance to delve into, here’s how the media reacted to Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool.

 

Winning when not at the races

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates with team-mate match-winning goal-scorer Harvey Elliott (R) 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)

Jonathan Liew of the Guardian wrote colourfully as usual and summed up the game pretty well.

A scrappy, tetchy game of football; two disputed penalty decisions; a deflected equaliser; whole minutes of aimless waiting around while a man in shorts watched a little screen.

And then, finally, a moment of grace that this game categorically did not deserve and Liverpool barely did.

It came from Harvey Elliott, gliding through the Crystal Palace defence like a man dancing on lily pads, scoring the injury-time goal that earned Liverpool another grubby and scowling three points.

Writing for BBC Sport, Harry Poole came to a similar conclusion.

Liverpool, though dominant, struggled throughout to break the hosts down and the returning Alisson came to his side’s rescue in stunning fashion in the first half when he pushed Jefferson Lerma’s first-time shot on to the post.

The visitors again had the Brazilian to thank for another excellent stop to prevent Joachim Andersen providing a dramatic twist with a header from a free-kick in the 100th minute.

 

The subs on target

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)

David Lynch underlined for This Is Anfield how important Harvey Elliott was to Liverpool’s win, after he came on with 16 minutes of normal time left.

The goal alone doesn’t do justice to just how influential the Englishman was following his introduction in the 74th minute.

He completed 100 percent of his 23 passes to get the Reds playing their best football of the 90 minutes around the Crystal Palace penalty box, constantly probing a previously solid back line.

For all the talent around him, the 20-year-old has emerged as Klopp’s most effective substitute this season, and a key part of a squad that has designs on a Premier League title challenge.

Joe Gomez also played his part off the bench, as Liverpool.com’s Matt Addison mentioned.

Made a difference going forward. It’s still not enough to say that Alexander-Arnold being in midfield can be anything more than a break-glass option, but it was a good cameo.”

 

Talk of a title race

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)

Liverpool went top with the three points secured at Selhurst Park, and Miguel Delaney gave his views on a potential title race in the Independent.

As to whether this Liverpool team are taking shape for the title race. Well, they aren’t yet firing and Klopp is constantly having to make changes, as illustrated by the key substitutions here.

There are two ways to look at that, as Liverpool keep picking up three points. One is that this is unsustainable and they will gradually be caught out.

Another is that a growing team is keeping momentum as they continue to find their feet. That might be ominous for everyone else if they do manage a new-year run in the way they did in 2021-22. For the moment, all they can do is win, which is what they are doing.

Meanwhile, James Pearce wrote for the Athletic:

They say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish — and Liverpool provided yet another dramatic late flourish to climb to the top of the Premier League table.

Entering the last quarter of an hour at Selhurst Park, Klopp’s side were staring a demoralising defeat in the face as they trailed to Mateta’s penalty. It had been a largely dismal performance, too.

However, just like they did when trailing 3-2 against Fulham in the closing stages at Anfield last weekend, they pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.

That’s now 18 of their 37 points won from losing positions in the Premier League this season – six more than any other club. Is it sustainable? Probably not, but you have to admire their powers of recovery.