Salah not needed as Liverpool produce another escape act
Mohamed Salah didn’t even have time to get fully stripped off before Liverpool were at it again, writes David Lynch.
After seeing Wilfried Zaha deservedly drag Crystal Palace level in the 82nd minute, Jurgen Klopp had no choice but to turn to a bench boasting a world-class break-glass option.
A recent ankle injury meant Salah had only been deemed fit enough to be named as a substitute at Selhurst Park, but the caution underpinning that decision was not strong enough to survive a Palace equaliser.
Still, the Egyptian only had enough time to reach the touchline before being sat straight back down by Roberto Firmino’s scruffy winning goal.
He should have known; this is what the ‘Mentality Giants’ – as Klopp has famously called them time and again – do.
Now, perhaps the only alarming element is the regularity with which they do it.
The world hasn’t seen such self-inflicted tight spots escaped from so frequently since Harry Houdini was in his pomp.
And, just like the great escapologist, you suspect the Reds are even starting to enjoy this aspect of their craft.
Each time Liverpool manage to pull these miraculous feats off, it chips away at the element of surprise, leaving a space that is beginning to be filled by a feeling of inevitability.
It is for that reason that there will have been few rewrites in the Selhurst Park press box: why begin writing at all when you can see what’s coming?
In the end, journalists were reporting on Klopp’s side’s sixth victory of the season secured by the decidedly uncomfortable scoreline of 2-1.
Against Leicester City, Aston Villa, and now Crystal Palace, late winners were required to earn all three points.
Conversely, clashes with Southampton, Chelsea and Tottenham featured second-half onslaughts that the Reds felt somewhat fortunate to survive.
As he reflects on this latest narrow success in London, Klopp may decide that these nerve-wracking results are down to his players not doing enough to put their opponents well and truly out of sight.
In this one, both Firmino and Mane wasted excellent chances that would have spared the away end a nail-biting conclusion to proceedings.
But sometimes you simply have to respect the level you’re playing at, and that teams containing talents such as Zaha and Andros Townsend – both of whom shone here – aren’t going to lie down when the league leaders come to town.
Thankfully, it is always easier to show such deference when you sit eight points clear at the summit of the Premier League after yet another win.