If we wanted to choose a game that epitomised Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool at their very best, this one feels like it would be pretty close to the top of the list.
The intensity. The control. The goals. It deserved a crowd. Sadly, it didn’t get one.
The fact this display came in the first competitive Anfield game behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, arguably made it additionally impressive.
The key line, come the end of the night, was that anything less than a Manchester City win at Chelsea the following evening would secure the Merseysiders’ first top division league title since 1990, the 19th in the club’s history, and their first in the Premier League era.
24 hours later, and the Citizens’ 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge did indeed seal the deal.
June 24 – even before June 25 enhanced its significance – felt as notable for the style of victory as the context it produced. The stats behind what was, at that stage, the Reds’ 28th win out of 31 2019/20 league matches, tell a story.
Four goals to Palace’s nil. Seven shots on-target to none. 21 total shots to three. 73pc possession. Only 9pc of the game played in the hosts’ defensive third. We could go on.
The goals also ooze character.
A devilish 23rd-minute Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick. A wonderfully crafted 44th-minute Mohamed Salah conversion. A 55th-minute Fabinho thumper. A 69th-minute counter-attack started and finished by Sadio Mané with excellent Roberto Firmino and Salah contributions in between.
There was also the team. Many saw this as Liverpool’s strongest starting XI at the time.
Alisson Becker, Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mané.
It had only started a competitive game once previously – the 1-0 Champions League Round of 16 first-leg defeat at Atlético Madrid four months earlier – and would only do so once more – in the 4-0 loss at Manchester City eight days later.
There was also the timing. The structure of the display.Embed from Getty Images
The start was fast. The kind of start that would take a more familiar atmosphere up a few levels.
Klopp had spoken about creating their own atmosphere in the comparatively sterilised setting – and it felt like on-field actions did plenty of that work.
Early pressure paid off when Alexander-Arnold whipped that 25-yard free kick past Wayne Hennessey and into the top-right corner on the stroke of the water break – excellent timing.
There was more reward when Salah chested down Fabinho’s beautifully flighted pass and stroked the ball into the bottom-right corner just before half time. Again, happy timing.
The second-half start was familiarly quick and was capped by Fabinho thundering the ball into the top-right corner a little under 10 minutes after the restart.
Then Mané’s brilliant counter-attacking effort rounded things off midway through the second period.
Brave performance, brilliant goals, at good times, for a big result.Embed from Getty Images
These moments and this team, still, deserve a crowd.
This was, still, unmistakably Klopp’s Liverpool – and it felt a fitting way to ultimately earn that Premier League title.
Don’t miss a thing
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox. It’s free!