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Friday, September 17, 2021

Liverpool 4 – 0 C Palace

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Liverpool thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 and are now on the brink of the Premier League title, knowing a win or draw for Chelsea against Manchester City on Thursday evening will see them crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.

An inch-perfect Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick (23) and trademark finish from the returning Mohamed Salah (44) rewarded Liverpool’s first-half dominance at Anfield and, with the visitors’ threat hampered by an early injury to Wilfried Zaha, the Reds continued their control after the break.

Fabinho crashed home a stunning 30-yard strike (55) and Sadio Mane slotted home number four (68) to extend their advantage over second-placed Manchester City to 23 points.

Liverpool’s attentions will now turn to City’s trip to Chelsea. If City win, then Liverpool will have the chance to clinch the crown against the defending champions next Thursday, July 2.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah celebrate after Salah scores against Crystal Palace
Salah celebrates his goal with Sadio Mane

Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (8), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (9), Henderson (7), Wijnaldum (7), Salah (9), Firmino (7), Mane (9).

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Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Williams (6), Minamino (6), Keita (N/A), Elliott (N/A)

Crystal Palace: Hennessey (5), Ward (5), Cahill (5), Sakho (5), Van Aanholt (6), Kouyate (6), McCarthy (6), McArthur (6), Zaha (N/A), Townsend (5), Ayew (5).

Subs: Meyer (6), Milivojevic (6), Riedewald (5), Pierrick (N/A)

Man of the match: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Jurgen Klopp’s side had looked blunt when they drew with Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, but they showed far more incision in attack from the off against Palace.

Gini Wijnaldum should have put Liverpool ahead on eight minutes when he scuffed a close-range shot wide, before skipper Jordan Henderson skied a volley over the bar from Mane’s cross moments later.

A muscle injury to Zaha was a major blow to Palace’s ambitions and they suffered an even more significant setback on 23 minutes when an unnecessary Jordan Ayew foul on Virgil van Dijk allowed Alexander-Arnold to bend home a delicious free-kick from the edge of the area.

Trent Alexander-Arnold scores a free-kick against Crystal Palace
Trent Alexander-Arnold scores the opener with a free-kick

Jordan Henderson then struck a post from Palace ‘keeper Wayne Hennessey’s punch out and Wijnaldum was off target again after a handball penalty shout out against the visitors’ Gary Cahill was waved away as Liverpool assumed total control.

A Joe Gomez mis-control allowed Max Meyer a rare sight at goal for Roy Hodgson’s men, but, two minutes after his wayward strike, Salah chested down and clinically converted Fabinho’s delightful chipped through ball for Liverpool’s 100th goal of the season across all competitions.

Team news

  • Salah and Robertson return to the Liverpool XI
  • Gomez and Wijnaldum also come in
  • Four changes for Palace including Hennessey replacing Guaita in goal
Fabinho celebrates after scoring Liverpool's third goal against Crystal Palace
Fabinho celebrates after scoring Liverpool’s third goal

Fabinho then went from provider to goalscorer after the interval, hammering the ball into the corner of Palace’s goal with a stunning long-range strike.

Salah curled just wide and sub Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired over but Mane made no mistake with his finish when he rounded off a move he started and also involved great combination play from Liverpool’s feared front three.

With 22 minutes to play it seemed Liverpool would go on and find a fifth and Salah had a golden chance to do just that but got caught between passing to a team-mate or scoring himself. But by then his impact on his return to the team had been powerfully felt by Palace.

Sadio Mane scores against Crystal Palace
Mane rounds off the scoring

When can Liverpool win the title?

Liverpool now need to gain just two points to win the Premier League title. So, if nearest challengers Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night, the Reds will be crowned champions. If City beat Chelsea, Liverpool can win the title by avoiding defeat at City on July 2, live on Sky Sports.

Opta stats

  • This was Liverpool’s 20th win at Anfield in all competitions this season (23rd home match), making them the first club in Europe’s big-five leagues to win 20 home matches in 2019-20.
  • Liverpool extended their top-flight record to 23 consecutive home victories; the Reds have scored 67 goals in those 23 wins while conceding just 15 in reply.
  • Liverpool have now scored 100+ goals in all competitions for a third consecutive season, the first time they have done so since 1986-87 (eight in a row).
  • Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick was his 30th Premier League goal involvement (five goals, 25 assists); since his debut in December 2016, this is more than any other defender in the competition.
  • Aged 21 years and 261 days, Trent Alexander-Arnold was the youngest Liverpool player to score a Premier League direct free-kick at Anfield since Robbie Fowler in December 1995 against Manchester United (20y 252d).
  • Liverpool forward Mo Salah has scored 15 Premier League goals at Anfield this season – no other player has scored more than 10 home goals in the competition this term. Indeed, the Egyptian has scored in each of his last six home league games for the Reds (seven goals).
  • Liverpool’s Fabinho both scored and assisted a goal in the same league game for the first time since December 2017 when he did so for Monaco against St Etienne in Ligue 1
  • Liverpool midfielder Fabinho has celebrated his 41st victory in what was his 50th Premier League appearance; only Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben, Ederson (all 42) and Aymeric Laporte (43) won more of their opening 50 games in the competition.

What’s next?

Thursday 2nd July 8:00pm

Liverpool have to wait eight days until their next game, away at Manchester City on Thursday July 2 at 8.15pm, live on Sky Sports, while Palace host Burnley at Selhurst Park on Monday at 8pm.

If Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea on Thursday, then Sky Sports will be on air with a Liverpool title winners special show on Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League from 10pm.

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