Premier League

Fabinho stars as Liverpool remind everyone just how good they can be

The Reds can see the finish line and they dispatched Crystal Palace in ruthless fashion with the finish line in sight

7:00am on Thursday 25th June 2020
Nicholas Hughes

It was Anfield like no other Liverpool team has experienced before, but for Crystal Palace it was the same old story from the Reds on the pitch.

The emptiness of the Kop stand did nothing to diminish the hosts in a supremely dominant display from the first whistle and one that has Jurgen Klopp’s men two points away from their long-awaited Premier League coronation.

Trent Alexander-Arnold bent a superb free-kick into the top corner to get the ball rolling before Mohamed Salah made it two on his return just before half time.

Fabinho and Sadio Mane completed the rout in the second half as the Reds put Palace to the sword.

Liverpool issued an instant response to their poor performance against Everton, resuming formalities on the Anfield turf with slick and purposeful passing play.

Within the first 10 minutes they had completed 93 passes at a 91% accuracy, boasting over 70% of the ball as they set about dominating their opponents immediately.

Fabinho was yet again key for the Reds after his positive performance against the Toffees, with 100% completion in both tackles and passes in a first half that he closed with a gorgeous assist for Salah.

The Brazilian set the tone for the team from the outset, being the only Liverpool player to win a tackle in the first half, indicative of his control in the midfield as the back four was never required.

And for good measure, the Brazilian scored the pick of the bunch for 3-0, sending a laser into the top-right corner from all of 30 yards. He ended the game with a stunning 98% pass completion and five out of six tackles won, FC’s Man of the Match for the second game running earning a Perfect 10.

Despite his goal, it took Salah just about the entire first half to get up to speed having missed the weekend’s derby. His 23 possession losses were the most in a red shirt and his pass completion finished at just 79%, but a goal and an assist on his return is just about as good as he could have hoped for.

Andrew Robertson’s reinstatement at left-back was a welcome one for the home side as well. The Scotsman had 36 passes into the final third, second only to Salah, and four crosses into the box. Robertson also had an xGBuildUp of 0.97, equal third in the team, as much of the play went down his left hand side.

All of this action seemed to move past Roberto Firmino. Without direct involvement in any of the goals, the Brazilian continued his peculiar record of not having scored at Anfield in the league all season.

Substituted in the 74th minute, Firmino had played 25 passes – Liverpool’s lowest bar Alisson – with his 76% accuracy bested by each of his team-mates.

The Reds’ No. 9 did have a team high nine touches in the box and had the hockey assist for the fourth goal, but his 6.5 FC Rating was better than only Alisson’s out of the starting XI, adding to his frustrations throughout the campaign.

The Expected Ggoals (xG) scoreline read 2.57 for Liverpool and, staggeringly, just 0.06 for Crystal Palace, who only had three attempts on goal, all from well outside the area, none of which hit the target. The visitors failed to muster as much as a single touch inside Liverpool’s box, the first time any team has gone a full game without doing so in the Premier League since 2008.

Well outperforming their xG, Liverpool were simply ruthless in front of goal – by the 27th minute they had already eclipsed their xG from Sunday’s Merseyside derby.

All eyes will now turn to Stamford Bridge to see if Chelsea will hand Liverpool the title tomorrow, with any points taken off Manchester City all but securing it for the Reds ahead of their clash with the Citizens next week.

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