Premier League: Liverpool Seven clear after Seven-Goal Thriller

Liverpool 4-3 Crystal Palace

Jurgen Klopp has taken Liverpool seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, but not before the Eagles gave them one heck of a fright!

The Reds are still unbeaten at Anfield, but they were pushed all the way in this seven-goal thriller. The hosts were at us odds of 1.20 to win the game, but it was much harder than they expected as Palace took the lead and continued fighting to the death. In the end, a Mo Salah brace was the difference between the two teams.

Highlights of the game

The hosts were on the front foot from the off, but the Eagles managed to withstand the early pressure. James Milner did well to put Joel Matip in but veteran keeper Julian Speroni was quick off his line to thwart the danger, then Firmino cut in from the right but his shot flew well over the crossbar.

Sadio Mane rose well to meet a corner but his header went straight into the Palace keeper’s hands. And the 39-year-old Speroni was on hand again to tip over a powerful header from Virgil van Dijk when the big Dutch defender met a Milner corner. And then, after standing firm against the red onslaught for half an hour, Palace silenced the Anfield crowd by going ahead.

And it was a well-worked and beautifully simple opener. Wilfried Zaha left Milner standing as he raced down the left and then centred a pinpoint ball for Andros Townsend to fire low into the bottom corner. The Eagles have already proved this season they can be a dangerous side for the very top teams, and Klopp must have been wondering whether he was to be the next victim.

Salah bagged the only goal of the game to win three crucial points against Brighton last week, and after being largely anonymous during the first 45 minutes, it took him just two minutes of the second half to draw the Reds level. After defending so well in the first half, Palace made a complete hash of a clearance which Van Dijk sent back in; the ball fell to Salah for the Egyptian to direct a clever volley into the bottom corner.

50 Premier League goals and counting for Mohamed Salah

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates with Roberto Firmino after scoring his side’s opening goal

That was enough to get the Anfield Kop on their feet, and they were up again five minutes later when Firmino made it 2-1. The Brazilian had a huge slice of luck after he scuffed his shot, but it took a nasty deflection which sent the ball across the goal and into the net.

We said the Eagles were dangerous, though, and they refused to lie down. And when big defender James Tomkins met a corner his header flew back across goal and into the Liverpool goal. 2-2.

Liverpool had to do it all again.

And they did, on 76 minutes, but what a shocker poor old Speroni had. Milner crossed and the veteran keeper leapt to meet it, but only diverted it towards his own goal, where Salah nipped in to claim the goal.

Palace refused to give up and really should have equalised on 83 minutes when Patrick van Aahnolt swung a cross over, but Jeffrey Schlupp headed wide when he should have scored.

James Milner saw red on 89 minutes when he put in a late challenge on Zaha; he was already on a yellow and it was an easy decision for the ref. But Mane settled Liverpool’s nerves with a cool finish in injury time/ Palace substitute Max Meyer made it 4-3 right at the death, though.

What a game!

Key Statistics

After a breath-taking match, Mo Salah has moved on to 16 league goals this season and bagged his 50th in the Premier League.

That’s nine home wins on the trot for the Reds, and Townsend’s opener was only the fourth goal Liverpool had conceded at home in the league. By the end of the game, Alisson had conceded three goals, to double the number he has shipped at Anfield.

The Palace keeper made the Premier League 2019 news, taking the honour of being the oldest player in the Premier League having been recalled by Hodgson for his first appearance in over a year.

And this was the first time Hodgson had lost at Anfield as a visiting manager.

What’s next?

Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace pushed until the very end of their Premier League match, but Liverpool came out on top

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shakes hands with Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson

Another win means the Premier League 2019 odds still back a Liverpool title win, and the Reds have a breather next week having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Wolves. They don’t play again until Wednesday, 30th January, when Leicester City head to Anfield.

Roy Hodgson’s Eagles host Spurs in the FA Cup fourth round, and with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son out injured, Palace will fancy that one. Then it’s back to Premier League business and a crunch survival clash away to Southampton.

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Reds hit the right note

Jurgen Klopp felt Liverpool's 1-0 win over Brighton wasn't 'an opera of football but it was a really nice song' as they moved seven points clear in the Premier League title race.

Mohamed Salah scored the only goal from the penalty spot shortly after half-time, the Egyptian forward having been upended in the area by Pascal Gross.

Brighton contained the league leaders for long spells, and even had a chance to level late on when Naby Keita gave the ball away and it almost fell in the box for Jurgen Locadia after Trent Alexander-Arnold sliced a clearance.

Salah had passed up a glorious chance to double his tally entering stoppage time when he somehow poked wide from six-yards with the goal at his mercy after good work from James Milner.

Still, after back-to-back league and cup losses against Manchester City and Wolves, the Liverpool manager was delighted to win – in whatever style it was done.

"It was very hard but that is how it is. It was a massive game today. Everyone knows how difficult it is to go to Brighton," said Klopp.

"You have to be creative against a really good, organised side. It was a mature performance from my side. I really like that as this season it is quite a new skill and I'd like us to keep that.

"We learned from the first half and the second half was better. I liked the performance. It wasn't an opera of football but it was a really nice song."

Liverpool are 1/7 to win their next game at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Eagles are 14/1 while the draw is 7/1.

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Klopp says City the best

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has claimed that Manchester City are the best team in the world ahead of the teams meeting in the Premier League on Thursday.

Just two days after his opposite number Pep Guardiola said that Liverpool may be the best in world football at the moment, Klopp has responded by saying that title should be City's.

The teams meet at the Etihad Stadium with Klopp's side seven points ahead, City falling to third in the table after Tottenham's win over Cardiff on New Year's Day.

City will go back second with a draw or victory on Thursday night and Klopp claimed they were his team's main challengers in the race for the title.

He said in a press conference ahead of the game: "It is a normal game against Manchester City but a very difficult one, one of the most difficult you can play in modern football.

"They are a really strong football team with an outstanding manager. Before you play them, you never know.

"We have to be prepared as good as possible, be brave, full of desire and angry again like in all the other games. The opponent is, for me, still the best in the world."

City are 21/20 to win Thursday's game with Liverpool 5/2 and the draw 29/10. City are 10/1 to win the game 1-0.

Guardiola says Thursday's game is a must-win for his side but Klopp disagrees saying, though it's a crucial game, City have the quality to close the gap at the top whatever happens at the Etihad.

Klopp also revealed that James Milner may be fit enough to play against his old side. He missed the recent wins over Newcastle and Arsenal due to a hamstring problem but has resumed training and may come back into the squad.

City are 7/4 to win the Premier League title this season with Liverpool 8/15.

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Klopp confirms Milner’s absence

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that midfielder James Milner will miss the Premier League showdown with Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday.

Milner sat out the 4-0 Boxing Day victory over Newcastle United due to a leg muscle problem and he is not quite ready to feature against the Gunners at teatime on Saturday.

Klopp told reporters at his pre-match press conference: "Millie is Millie and that means he is again ahead of schedule. He had, yes, a little bit (of a problem) with the muscle.

"He will not be available for tomorrow, that's not possible, but hopefully the game after that he will be available again."

The Merseysiders, who hold a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table ahead of the weekend action, are 1/2 to defeat Arsenal and are 8/1 to do so by a 2-0 scoreline, with the Reds 6/4 to keep a third consecutive clean sheet.

Meanwhile, Klopp has voiced hope that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could return to action before the end of the season, having missed the whole of the campaign to date due to a serious knee ligament injury.

With the England international now back in light training, Klopp added: "It's the best news. He started going on the pitch and from the first step he looked completely normal.

"With Ox, from the first step, it looked like Ox. It was really nice and then you had to wait for the reaction – there was no reaction, which is even nicer.

"No pressure on him, but it looks like it may be February back in normal training – late February, March -so that gives us hope that he will be back this season."

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Klopp could strengthen in January

Liverpool may be top of the Premier League but Jurgen Klopp is not ruling out adding to the squad in the January transfer window.

The Reds enter the busy Christmas period four points clear at the top of the table and play Newcastle at home on Boxing Day.

However they do have some injury concerns and it is those which may prompt Klopp to buy in January.

Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will miss the meeting with former Reds manager Rafa Benitez while there are doubts over Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita.

The Liverpool boss says he is happy with the squad as it is, but will look at the injury situation before deciding what to do next month.

"I'm very happy with what I've got but I've always said, you don't know, I'll keep the door open.

"If some things happen, then we need to have a look. A monstrous number of games are coming up. It is really important that we can react.

"If something dramatically changes, we will need to have a look but if nothing happens, then we will not do anything."

In Liverpool's last game, a 2-0 victory over Wolves, James Milner was used as right-back but Klopp said he was one of the few around who can play in a number of different positions.

Their Boxing Day clash with Newcastle is followed by a home game against Arsenal on the 29th December and then a trip to Manchester City on 3rd January.

Liverpool are 1/6 to win on Boxing Day with Newcastle 18/1 and the draw 15/2.

Newcastle have problems of their own ahead of the trip to Anfield. Ki Sung-yueng is away on international duty with South Korea and Jonjo Shelvey may not have recovered from a thigh problem in time.

Liverpool are 11/10 to win the Premier League title at the end of the season with Manchester City 10/11.

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Milner rues late Reds concession

Skipper James Milner admitted that he and his Liverpool colleagues were disappointed not to have taken all three points form their trip to Arsenal on Saturday.

Milner fired the visitors in front on the hour mark at the Emirates Stadium, only for the Reds to pay the price for passing up a number of chances as Alexandre Lacazette rifled home an equaliser eight minutes from time.

And Milner accepted that the Merseysiders should have done better in trying to protect their lead after finally breaking the deadlock.

He told the club's official website: "We are very disappointed really, which is a good thing I suppose, playing away at Arsenal.

"To be 1-0 up in the second half and not see it out, we are disappointed – with the chances we created we should have scored a few more goals.

"It's pleasing we are creating those chances, but we could have been a bit more ruthless and maybe not put as much pressure on ourselves not to concede to win the game."

Meanwhile, Reds head coach Jurgen Klopp played down the loss of two potentially important points in their bid to claim the Premier League title this season.

He added: "It was very intense, Arsenal are in a very good moment. A point at Arsenal will always be a good result, so we take that and move on.

"A point is a good result – Unai Emery can say the same, but we had clear chances."

Liverpool are now 7/2 to win the Premeir League title this season, with Arsenal 50/1 and Chelsea 10/1.

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Palace Pay the Penalty

Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool

It’s said winning games like this plays a big part in securing Premier League titles.

Perhaps then, us fans, this is why Premier League 2018 odds make Liverpool second favourites for the title behind reigning champions Manchester City.

Yes, there was an element of luck in this victory, but all trophy chasing sides need some luck and this was an impressive win for the Merseysiders.

Highlights of the game

Both managers, Roy Hodgson and Jurgen Klopp, named unchanged teams after their opening victories of the season: Palace at Fulham, Liverpool with a rout over West Ham.

The question was could Roy mastermind a shock win against the club who never really gave him a chance to succeed – he was dismissed in early 2011 after less than six months in charge.

In addition, Mamadou Sakho and Christian Benteke, never really given an opportunity by Klopp who didn’t think the Belgian could fit into his system, were facing their former employers.

Both sides had a boost before kick-off with Eagles’ talisman Wilfried Zaha signing a new deal – there was clear excitement among home fans every time he touched the ball – while Liverpool arrived in South London to the news their own hero Mo Salah had been named on a shortlist of three for the UEFA player of the Year award.

As expected Liverpool dominated possession against a well-drilled Palace side.

Salah went close with a chip after super work from Naby Keita, although moments later Andros Townsend took advantage of Keita losing possession and unleashed a shot which struck the crossbar – it would have been a superb goal.

The key moment arrived a minute before the break and it may well be a talking point in Premier League 2018 news in the days ahead.

An outstretched arm from Sakho sent Salah tumbling in the box and, whether the Egyptian went down too easily or not, it was clumsy from Sakho.

As the footballer of the year ignored the chants of ‘cheat’ from the home support, James Milner coolly converted the penalty.

It was nearly game over at the start of the second half but Salah, after being played through by Andrew Robertson, chipped over advancing goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey but went too wide and Sadio Mane saw his shot bobble wide of the post.

Crystal Palace, aggrieved by the penalty decision, hit back and new Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson saved a free-kick from Australian midfielder Luka Milivojevic and then denied Benteke.

With just one goal separating the sides, Palace could not be ruled out but their chances ended with just over quarter of an hour remaining.

That was when young full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought down Salah on the edge of the box and referee Michael Oliver showed the red card.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka unlucky to be sent off during the Premier League 2018 match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool

Aaron Wan-Bissaka receives a red card during the Premier League 2018 match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace

Hennessey denied Mane a second as space opened up for the visitors and the Welshman then clawed away a Salah header.

Despite Zaha’s best efforts – the exciting young striker is one goal away from surpassing Chris Armstrong as the club’s all-time record Premier League goalscorer – the numerical disadvantage proved too much for Palace and Mane capped a 2-0 victory in stoppage time on the break with a masterful finish.

It was the Senegal striker’s sixth career goal against Palace and, after a run of three defeats in a row against Crystal Palace, Liverpool have now won five of their last six Premier League meetings.

For them, its two wins out of two which will only increase talk of a title tilt. It’s the prize the club and their fans crave most of all.

For Palace, defeat, but there will be no repeat of their relegation fears of last term with performances like this.

Key statistics

Palace have never won their opening home fixture of a Premier League season.

Milner has scored in 47 Premier League games and not finished on the losing side once (winning 38 and drawing 10).

Liverpool have scored 24 Premier League goals at Selhurst Park, more than any away side has scored.

The Reds have won five successive away games against Palace in all competitions, having failed to win any of their previous six at Selhurst Park.

Since Jurgen Klopp took charge in October 2015, Liverpool’s Premier League games have produced 342 goals, more than any other team in that period.

What’s next?

It’s Watford away next for Palace followed by a home match against Southampton on September 1.

Liverpool entertain Brighton this weekend and then travel to 2016 champions Leicester City.

Then it is the first international break of the new season.

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Saints frustrate Reds at Anfield

Liverpool's quest to finish in the top four of the Premier League suffered a blow as they were held to a goalless draw by Southampton.

Saints keeper Fraser Forster saved a James Milner penalty and kept his side in it with a great save late on from a Marko Grujic header.

However, those chances aside, though Liverpool had the bulk of possession, they rarely tested Forster and, having looked secure in a top four place, they are now looking nervously over their shoulders.

Of the chasing pack, Manchester United are the team most likely to catch Liverpool, starting their game against Arsenal five points behind the Reds with two games in hand.

Playing in front of their own fans Liverpool were frustrated by a Southampton side happy to defend deep and try to hit Jurgen Klopp's side on the break.

However, the home side had the perfect chance to take the lead in the second half after Saints defender Jack Stephens handled in the box.

Milner had never missed a penalty for Liverpool, scoring all 12 previous attempts, but this time he was denied, Forster producing an excellent save.

That was Liverpool's best chance and there was frustration from manager Klopp, though he looked for the positives after the game.

He told the BBC: "We will keep on fighting. We wish we had 72 points but we have one more than we did.

"Everyone worked hard for three points. It's important we didn't conceded a goal. We defended the counter attacks much better and we could have been more creative in moments.

"There are always a lot of explanations for not scoring. We defended well. I thought the atmosphere was absolutely brilliant."

Liverpool are next in action on Sunday when they travel down to face West Ham at the London Stadium.

They are 4/6 for the win, Slaven Bilic's side, now safe from relegation, are 4/1 with the draw 14/5.

Liverpool are 8/1 to win the game 2-1.

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