In recent years, any title challenge Liverpool have had loses momentum when they’re faced with Crystal Palace.
Famously in May 2014, with Liverpool cruising to a 3-0 away victory at Selhurst Park, a late collapse saw Palace score three times in the final 11 minutes to snatch a point.
Dropping those two points proved to be vital in the title race, handing Manchester City the opportunity to jump two points above them.
It was an opportunity City didn’t let slip.
Fight of Champions
In the game at Anfield this weekend, Liverpool battled from a goal down at half time to lead 2-1 before being pegged back again.
In years gone by, Liverpool being pegged back by Palace has seen heads drop and a loss in focus, but not his year.
The Red’s shifted up another gear, finding two goals to make it 4-2 in the dying minutes, even with a red card for James Milner splitting their two late goals.
The game finished 4-3, but it had all the scripting of a game they’d have lost in previous title battles.
Before the start of last season, on paper, the names of the front three of Liverpool wouldn’t have struck fear into the opposition.
Fast forward to this season, coming off the back of a campaign where the front three scored 57 league goals between them, opponents have no idea how to cope with their threat.
Mohamed Salah is leading the goalscoring charts again with 16 league goals already, and is favourite to retain his title at 8/13. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are also firing, notching nine goals each.
Solidarity in defence
Liverpool’s biggest flaw in recent years has been their defence. January 2018 saw the reds break a transfer record to sign Virgil Van Dijk for £75m.
It is becoming one of the most important and influential signings the Anfield club will ever make. They’ve not only signed one of the best centre-backs in world football, but they’ve managed to rediscover a leadership that they’ve struggled to find since Steven Gerrard left for LA in 2015.
If you partner Van Dijk with the youth and exuberance of Andrew Robertson at left back and Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back, the club have managed to find a perfect balance at the back to give the rest of the team enough confidence to run forward without fear of being hurt on a counter attack.
Before conceding three against Palace, they’d shipped only 10 goals in 22 games, but even conceding 13 in 23 games is the record of potential champions.
In the final 15 games of the campaign, Liverpool only face three more games against the traditional ‘top-six’, with two of those games being at their fortress, Anfield.
In comparison, nearest challengers Manchester City face four ‘top-six’ ties. If Liverpool can maintain their form against lower half opposition, and pick up at least two wins from their ‘top-six’ battles, they’ll be bringing the title back to Merseyside in May for the first time since 1990.
They’re still favourites to win the league at 4/6, but the game against Palace at the weekend did give one element of worry for Liverpool fans.
Everything good that happened in the game at Anfield against Palace this weekend had Salah at the heart of it. If they were to lose Salah to injury in a similar way to Tottenham losing Harry Kane, the title could slip away from their grasp again.
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