Even after a statement performance, the significance of which seemed to be about much more than the game itself, Jurgen Klopp couldn’t resist another statement about the wider situation – and a dig.
“For the first time now in what feels like ages we don’t play Tuesday again,” the Liverpool manager said after his side’s sensational 7-0 win. “I think Crystal Palace felt today a little bit how hard it is to play Wednesday and then. Saturday 12.30pm immediately again. It is tough, and it was tough for us as well.”
“Was” being the key word. It suddenly looked all so easy – and all so good – on Saturday. This is not to dismiss Klopp’s complaints, but actually to compliment him and his team on how they’ve come through this.
While the “whining” has grated a lot of people in football – including many of the German’s managerial peers – it’s hard to dispute that Liverpool did suffer a little disproportionately. They had one of the worse injury crises, having lost a series of senior players, including their most influential in Virgil van Dijk.
And yet despite all that, they have only lost once in 14 games, and have 31 points. The circumstances and general unpredictability of the Premier League have fostered a fair argument that 80 points could be enough to win the title this season – a figure rarely seen since the 1990s – but Liverpool’s current record puts them on course for 84 points; an average of 2.2 points per game.
And that’s after some of the worst circumstances they could have had. They’re now in the middle of what feels a transformative week.
And yet this was also the curiosity to the performance.
Liverpool were brilliant in individual moments. It’s a remarkable thing to say about a 7-0 win away to a generally awkward opposition side, but it wasn’t a totally complete display.
There were even indications of existing vulnerabilities, such as a susceptibility to specific balls in behind that proved so ruinous against Aston Villa.
Klopp even referenced that game and the swings and roundabouts of all this afterwards.
“It’s a funny season we lost 7-2 and now we won 7-0, so at least we could cancel out a little bit the goal difference.”
It also feels like they’ve re-energised some of their goalscorers.
This is what else felt significant about the scale of the win. After no goals in nine, Sadio Mane scored one and set up another. After only two goals all season, Firmino has three in two. They were all either impressive or emphatic.
The Palace game finished with pretty much all of Liverpool’s wanting to get on and score – hungry for more. And they now don’t have a game until Sunday, at home to West Brom.
It is suddenly a promising situation to be in, with the players primed to play, and more to come back. Into this, of course, they still have Diego Jota and Thiago Alcantara to come back in the short term.
The wider point is their record looks good after a trying start, but has the potential to get much better now things are starting to clear.
This season of course has the capacity to go wrong again. It’s not like fixture congestion is going to ease off, nor is it like there’s a finite number of injuries you can suffer.
But Liverpool now have the experience of a situation that stretched them.
It actually feels like that record could improve, and they could go beyond 84 points, and better than 2.2 points per game – especially if they add a signing or two in January.
That is all subject to circumstances. It could turn.
For the moment, though, Liverpool seemed to have turned a few expectations for the season. They are displaying clarity, after so much congestion and confusion. And there is now clear daylight between the champions and the rest.