When my editor, Dan Moxon, asked after 70 minutes if Fabinho was in line for a very rare Don Kopleone 9/10, a couple of thoughts hit me.
I am always watching, keeping a running idea of ratings, and I am loath to overly laud good performances.
However, the reality tonight was that five or six Liverpool players could have been deserving of an elusive ‘9’. Jürgen Klopp’s side were sensational.
Indeed, this Klopp side *is* sensational, and having not watched them play for three months I was perhaps guilty of forgetting just how good they are.
Palace became the first team since Opta started recording data in 2008 to fail to register a single touch in the opposition box, such was Liverpool’s dominance.
A good start from the home side had been met with Palace resilience for the first 20 minutes. But there was more intensity to the Reds’ passing and build-up play than we saw at Everton on Sunday, even before Trent Alexander-Arnold curled home a free-kick.
A second felt inevitable, and arrived when a delicious chip from Fabinho was turned home by Mo Salah on the stroke of half-time. The Reds’ intensity did not drop after the break.
Fabinho turned from provider to, well, to put it mildly, finisher, blasting a piledriver similar to that which he scored against Manchester City. Liverpool’s goal of the season? Maybe.
Salah then fed Sadio Mané, who finished expertly for Liverpool’s fourth, with Klopp giving youngsters Neco Williams and Harvey Elliott some deserved Premier League minutes.
An absolutely superb display from the Champions-elect.
How many 9’s did we see, then?
Here are your ever-critical ratings:
Ali 6.5 — Did nothing wrong, but then the Brazilian stopper had absolutely nothing to do. Palace failed to register a shot on target.
Trent 7 — As on Sunday, Trent’s interplay is not yet back to its best. Nonetheless, Liverpool’s right-back did open proceedings with a pinpoint free-kick from 25 yards…
JoGo 8.5 — Solid in the first half, Joe Gomez was arguably the best player on the pitch after the interval. It is well documented that Liverpool have the best young right-back in world football, but they also boast the best young centre-back in world football.
Big Virg 8 — Played several inch-perfect cross-field passes to remind us that he is superhuman.Embed from Getty Images
Robbo 7.5 — The Scot’s return to Liverpool’s left helped the side return to attacking fluidity.
Hendo 7.5 — Pressed the Palace defence like a man possessed at times. Great technique displayed with a first-half volley which struck the post.
Fab 9 — A nine! Brilliant defensive work, quashing occasional Palace possession. Brilliant chipped pass for Mo Salah’s side-foot finish. Thunderous drive past Wayne Hennessey from a full 30 yards. Man of the match.
Gini 5.5 — Liverpool’s weakest starter. Had three gilt-edged chances and failed to make any count, while general play lacked the intensity shown by his midfield partners.
Mo 8.5 — Awesome. Quiet first 20 minutes, in typical fashion, though Salah’s confidence never dipped and a brilliant dart inside earned him the Reds’ second goal. Terrific ball to release Mané for the fourth. The Egyptian was toying with the Palace back line by the end of the game.
Bobby 7.5 — No goal or assist, but slick link-up play was essential to Liverpool’s dominance. Much improved from the weekend.
Sadio 8.5 — Best player on the pitch in the first half, and created the opportunities that Wijnaldum could have put away. Deserved the goal that came from Salah’s masterful through ball.
Ox 7 — Intensity threatened to drop with the game won, but the Ox helped maintain it.Embed from Getty Images
Taki 6.5 — Might have had a first Liverpool goal had Salah found him late on.
Neco 8 — Brilliant cameo. If Liverpool didn’t have Trent, Williams would be seeing plenty of first-team action.
Harv 7 — Couldn’t take a corner, but volleyed first-time cross showed superb technique.
Naby 7 — Very busy linking play in just a few minutes on-pitch.
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