Whisper it quietly, but Liverpool have just re-entered the Premier League title race.
Manchester City’s first concession of points in 13 games at Southampton may have taken them a dozen clear at the summit, but with two games in hand to negotiate, a thin glimmer of light was once again visible on Saturday night for Jurgen Klopp in the pursuit of league championship No.20 at Anfield.
With that yet-to-be rearranged game at home to Leeds United still to come and a visit to the Etihad also on the fixture list for Klopp, what looked to many as a foregone conclusion just a week ago now appears to be something that can be aggressively chased down in the coming months.
In order for that to be the case, though, nothing less than three points at a reinvigorated Crystal Palace would have sufficed on Sunday afternoon.
And so it proved as Liverpool signed off for a two-and-a-half-week Premier League hiatus with a hard-fought 3-1 win at Selhurst Park.
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It’s a victory that catapults them back into the reckoning for now and if anyone is to stop City at this stage, then it will surely be Liverpool.
It wasn’t pretty at times here as Palace threatened to become the fourth team this season to go level with Klopp’s side from two goals down, but the Reds showed bags of character to make sure they got over the line.
It was never going to be plain sailing, was it?
Klopp made two changes to the team that beat Arsenal on Thursday as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the excellent Alisson Becker returned to the side at the expense of Kaide Gordon and Caoimhin Kelleher.
And Liverpool had their lead inside 10 minutes when Virgil van Dijk helped himself to the freedom of the Palace penalty area before powering home the outstanding Andy Robertson’s corner.
It made the Reds the outright leaders for most goals from corners this season with nine, which puts the peculiar complaints about poor set-pieces into perspective.
The lead was doubled just after the half-hour mark when Oxlade-Chamberlain took down another superb delivery from Robertson, this time in open play, before steadying himself and rifling home.
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Robertson’s eighth assist of the campaign moved him up to third in the Premier League charts behind only Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold, a stat that accurately reflects the Reds’ ability to craft chances from all areas.
It’s testament to just how many ways Liverpool have of hurting teams when they are at their best.
They have a devastating front three who dovetail with two world-class full-backs in Alexander-Arnold and Robertson who are continuing to redefine what is possible for players in those positions.
And a word for Oxlade-Chamberlain too after his second goal in a week.
At a time when others were being implored to chip in due to the absence of Salah and Sadio Mane, the versatile former Arsenal midfielder has done his bit.
With 18 months left on his contract, Oxlade-Chamberlain may feel as though he is playing for his own long-term future right now and if there is any truth in that observation, performances like this will do him no harm at all.
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He only lasted an hour though as he was swapped for Takumi Minamino in a change that was likely predetermined before kick-off given his late comeback to training this week.
Palace had a couple of quick-fire chances early in the second half with Conor Gallagher nodding wide before Odsonne Edouard’s close-range back-heel was superbly stopped by Alisson.
It was a couple of early shots across the bow to warn Klopp’s men that the game was far from won.
Palace were back in it when the lively Jean-Philippe Mateta beat the offside trap before squaring to Odsonne Edouard for a tap-in and it was probably nothing less than the hosts deserved after their response to going 2-0 down.
Patrick Vieira sent on Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew for the final 15 minutes as they sensed parity and Liverpool were again indebted to Alisson for pawing Michael Olise’s goal-bound lob around the post.
With the Eagles threatening a late onslaught, Klopp’s players were bailed out by VAR when Diogo Jota collided with goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to give referee Kevin Friend the chance to check the pitch-side monitor.
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It was a fortunate call but they did not look the gift horse in the mouth as Fabinho rattled in his fourth goal in two weeks from the penalty spot to put the result beyond doubt.
It may not have been as fruitful a day in London as it was for him earlier this week, but the visiting fans saluted the efforts of Jota in the closing stages for winning the spot-kick.
After the creation of his brand new song echoed around the Emirates and the surrounding pubs on Thursday evening, it was once again in regular rotation here in the south end of the capital.
The travelling Kop has a new doyen just as they are about to welcome back their long-time heroes Salah and Mane it would seem.
A welcome fortnight’s rest now awaits Klopp and his staff as he keeps his fingers crossed that the international contingent return to Merseyside next month unscathed.
Should that happen, then Liverpool really will start to believe they are back in this hunt.