The most watched football match on British television was also one of the worst we’ve seen in recent top flight history. Simply put, it was a turgid drag of an affair that put everyone to an early nights’ sleep.
It was slow, uneventful and devoid of entertainment. Three things we have not attributed to Liverpool this season.
But with the first choice front three on show on Wednesday and the rest of the side stepping up, the Reds looked like a different animal.
Lacking so clearly during the limp display at Goodison Park was the normal swashbuckling interventions of the full-back duo. As the key creators in Jurgen Klopp’s outfits, when their presence isn’t felt, it reverberates throughout the team.
Just like Mane’s start to the match, TAA followed a similar suit. Seeing plenty of the ball down the right flank, he looked significantly sharper than he did against the Blues, with that exuberance forcing Palace deeper and deeper into their own half.
Would the early injury sustained to Wilfried Zaha have helped them towards success? Perhaps not. Based on the early signs, that acted only in stunting the Eagles as opposed to benefiting the Reds.
The defensive diamond of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, with Fabinho in front, controlled the tempo of the game when pushed so high up the pitch, rarely giving Palace any chance to make inroads forward.
What they’d managed to bring up to a regular standard was their intensity levels. It’s become the most noteworthy attribute of this Liverpool side, and how they’d managed to reach those levels as if it were a Premier League game played in normal circumstances will banish any ill-feeling from their previous outing.
Fabinho – who’d come under unjust criticism for his recent performances – flexed his distribution muscles with a fine assist for Mohamed Salah, before hitting an absolute rocket in the second half from an unthinkable position. A gem of a strike.
Oh, and Trent Alexander-Arnold curled in a sumptuous free kick to open the scoring.
All in all, the two performances we’ve seen from Liverpool this month have been chalk and cheese. Naturally, a great deal of understanding for what the lengthy break did on all the teams’ match fitness needs to be factored in, but it appears as if Klopp’s side have turned that corner swiftly.
And that’s a good thing too, as the toughest fixture of their entire league campaign awaits.
While the issues of fatigue and rustiness are evident for most sides, they do not apply to Manchester City. In their two games back they’ve put in performances that could easily have been timestamped for January, with no signs of any let up in the Pep Guardiola sides we’ve grown accustomed too.
Given that they’ve effortlessly transitioned into the league’s resumption, it will take a performance such as the one as this one at Anfield if they are to match their opponents.
Does it matter if they don’t win? Of course it doesn’t, they’ll win the league eventually – they could win it if City lose to Chelsea – but it would be all the more sweeter to do it at the home of the side who so narrowly pipped them to the post last season.
Jurgen Klopp will have been pleased with what he saw against Crystal Palace
On Monday morning, not many Liverpool supporters may not have been confident of winning at the Etihad, yet just a few days on and they’ve put in a performance that offers a timely reminder of why they have been the outstanding team in the country this season.