I remember being at Anfield that night in 2013 when Luis Suarez toyed with Norwich, scoring four times in a 5-1 rout, and thinking that it would be a long time before the famous stadium witnessed such a monumental display of individual brilliance. I reckoned without one Mohamed Salah, who for all his goalscoring prowess had not registered a hat-trick this season until he put four past Watford on Saturday evening. For two of those strikes, he left defenders on their rear ends, bamboozling them into looking amateurish with his effervescent skill. Even for the one goal he didn’t score, Salah was instrumental, chasing what seemed a lost ball and crossing from a tight angle to Roberto Firmino, who flicked it behind him brilliantly and into the net. Watford, to give them their due, were not at all terrible on Saturday. They just had no answer at all to the mercurial talent of an Egyptian being who, even after seven months in a red shirt, comes up with new ways of leaving us wondering ‘how is that possible’.
For a brief spell yesterday, it looked as if West Brom might have given themselves a fighting chance of launching a late surge towards survival, but instead they find themselves 10 points from safety with only seven matches remaining after losing 2-1 at Bournemouth. Jay Rodriguez struck early in the second half to put the Baggies in front, with the home side going through the motions until Jordon Ibe’s long-range effort found the net, bouncing fatefully in front of Ben Foster. Bournemouth’s 89th-minute winner was a thing of beauty, an outrageous Junior Stanislas free kick buried into the top corner of the West Brom net. The Cherries are all but safe after this win, but Alan Pardew’s men will probably just want the season over and done with after a day which promised hope ultimately delivered heartbreak.
Stoke are still only three points off 17th place, but Saturday’s 1-2 home defeat at Everton had that feeling of a must-win game gone begging. At one stage during the first half, it looked as if the match might have ended early, so heavy was the snow at the bet365 Stadium, but the battle raged on – well, Charlie Adam’s was done before half-time after he saw red for a lunge on Wayne Rooney. Cenk Tosun might not have made an instant impact for the Toffees upon signing in January, but he continued his impressive recent form with both of their goals either side of one for Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, who having just come off the bench was forced out of the game after a collision with Jordan Pickford in scoring. Everton have 40 points on the board and can now rest easy, but Stoke are quickly running out of time to get the wins they need to prolong their Premier League stay beyond the 10-year mark.
Crystal Palace had been rather unlucky not to take at least a couple of points from their recent games against Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea, so Saturday’s 2-0 win at Huddersfield was probably coming. It was secured thanks to goals from James Tomkins and Luka Milivojevic, the latter a penalty after Palace had earlier been denied a more than legitimate claim for a spot kick. The only worry for Roy Hodgson was seeing Wilfried Zaha limp off injured, having just come back from a spell on the treatment table, but two dismal home performances from Huddersfield leave them peering very nervously over their shoulders.
The Eagles are sure to provide a very stern test for Liverpool in the first Premier League fixture following the international break, but if the Reds can win at Selhurst Park for the third season in a row, they will temporarily move 10 points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea. It wouldn’t be a definitive gap, but it would give Jurgen Klopp’s men a very nice cushion ahead of a pivotal start to April.