Liverpool thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 and are on the brink of the Premier League title, knowing a win or draw for Chelsea against Manchester City on Thursday will see them crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.
All that matters to Klopp is collecting the maximum two more points from seven remaining games to clinch the trophy. After stuttering in a 0-0 draw with Everton after the restart on Sunday, Liverpool was authoritatively rampant again against Crystal Palace. Trent Alexander-Arnold curled in a free kick to start the rout against Palace and Mohamed Salah swept in the second before half time from Fabinho’s dinked ball. Fabinho powered in the third from distance in the 55th minute and Sadio Mane raced onto Salah’s through ball to complete a counterattack in the 69th to make it 16 wins in 16 home games in the league this season. “It was the best counter pressing behind closed doors ever,” Klopp quipped. “The attitude we showed tonight, the passion we showed, was exceptional and we played some outstanding football.” The victory moved Liverpool 23 points ahead of City with seven games remaining of a campaign that will end without any fans in the stadium to celebrate the Reds’ first championship triumph since 1990.
“We’ve waited a long time for this and we’ve worked hard for this over the last few years as a team,” Salah said. “As a club this is what we’ve dreamed of and we’re in a good position, so hopefully we’ll be able to get it across the line very soon.” Football returned to Anfield for the first time since March 11, when Liverpool lost in the Champions League to Atletico Madrid on the day the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic and some medical experts believed mass gatherings should already have been shut down in England. One hundred and five days later, the Kop was silent for the visit to the Palace. The seats were covered with a tapestry of banners and slogans rather than being packed with the fans who form the choir for the club anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
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. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said, “Wow. Imagine if this stadium would have been full today, and all the people would have experienced it live. It would have been amazing. The boys played like everyone was in the stadium. They pushed themselves and the atmosphere on the pitch was incredible. Today was for sure the best counter-pressing game I saw behind closed doors! I liked it a lot. I liked the game so much. They are 4-0 up in the 87th minute, and four players are chasing one poor Crystal Palace player like it’s the only ball in the world. Wonderful result, wonderful game. All good.”
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.