When Crystal Palace and Liverpool played last October, Luis Suarez was fresh off a ten-game ban for biting an opponent. Palace was a cute little newly promoted team that many pundits predicted would bounce right back down. Since then, Palace has changed coaches and gone on a winning streak that has them comfortably mid-table (something I like to think of as the “reverse-curse of Rebecca Lowe”). All Suarez did was scored 31 goals to tie the Premier League single season scoring record.
After a ten-game ban.
Suarez definitely has an in-your-face element to his game; he’s good, he knows it and he delights in being him. Soon after he got his record-tying goal, he got a yellow card, bringing the universe back into balance. Today was apparently a day for ties.
When these two teams met back in October, Liverpool was in first place. Today, Crystal Palace played only for pride. Liverpool still wanted a shot at the title, and thus had every excuse to run up the score. As an impartial observer who tends more blue than red, I wanted to see them score five, six, whatever (nothing personal Palace fans). I wanted to see someone take a run at Manchester City sitting there in first place, so close (tied with Liverpool in terms of points) but still seemingly out of reach (with a pretty sizable goal difference late in the season).
Last season, Manchester United put the league away with several weeks to go; Manchester City, on the other hand, threatened to make a habit of keeping the last day of league play interesting. Liverpool would have loved to put them in a position where they had to do it again.
But in the late minutes, they let Palace score. Not once, not twice, but three times. Suarez tied the record, but Palace tied Liverpool, making his accomplishment nice but not good enough to deliver the trophy. Imagine if he’d kept his teeth to himself last year what his impact might have been over those ten games. They might not have needed him for early-season wins, but they almost needed him for the goals.
In the end, seemingly-little Crystal Palace was the key; Manchester City beat them, and Liverpool did not.