Liverpool took on Crystal Palace at Anfield in the second Premier League game of the season. Liverpool only managed a draw in their opener against Watford so it was important to get a positive result from this one. The Reds struggled but managed to sneak a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Sadio Mane.
Liverpool Starting Line Up
Gomez Matip Klavan Robertson
Milner Henderson Wijnaldum
Sturridge Firmino Mane
Liverpool made 5 changes from the midweek game against Hoffenheim, which included Milner, Gomez, Klavan, Sturridge and the debut of Andy Robertson. This was a huge risk for Jurgen Klopp as it was a must win game even this early in the season. The changes were understandable, the amount of games coming up in a short space of time was always going to require the whole squad to be used, and luckily it paid off.
Crystal Palace in recent times have had a habit of upsetting Liverpool, having won the last few encounters at Anfield. This was mainly down to Palace’s strength and height from set pieces and our old friend Christian Benteke. The Belgian had a few chances throughout the game but the majority of the game, Klavan and Matip dealt with the aerial threat fairly well. This shows to the Liverpool fans that they can actually defend well when they take up the correct positions and keep their focus.
A scruffy 1-0 win is something that Liverpool fans are not always used to. Games like this would usually have gotten away from us and we would have played out a 0-0 or even lost a goal late on from a set piece but on this occasion the Reds pulled through with a narrow win.
The winning goal came from Sadio Mane in the 73rd minute. After a swift move down the left the ball was played inside and then deflected back into the path of Mane who poked the ball past Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal. This was Sadio’s second goal of the season after his goal against Watford last week. Mane is showing his worth for Liverpool and there was been a lot of social media talk of him being just as valuable to Liverpool as Phillippe Coutinho is, and I have to agree with that. The pacey winger has scored 6 goals in his last 8 matches and tears teams apart on his day. Maybe Barcelona have been trying to sign the wrong Liverpool player all this time.
The stand out player of the game for me was Andy Robertson. Considering it was his debut he did extremely well at left back and staked a claim to be the first choice in this position. Milner seems to be being used as a central midfielder this season and Moreno has struggled to maintain a high level of performances. This must mean that Robertson will have a run in the team now. His crossing ability is high quality and he looks decent defensively too. A worthy man of the match in my opinion.
There is one problem that I have noticed in Liverpool’s game recently that is affecting our performances. The midfield three of Wijnaldum, Henderson and Emre Can (or Milner in this game’s case) is really not working. This may be because all of these players are side to side central midfielders. They don’t particularly create moves going forward and they aren’t particularly great at the defensive midfielder role. When Liverpool play the likes of Coutinho and Lallana in these positions Liverpool create so many more chances and are much more creative.
Now I am a massive fan of Jordan Henderson and I feel he is a decent player in the heart of our midfield. But my question is…is he really good enough defensively to play that role at the highest level? If you look at the other top teams, they have players with real strength and they break up the play brilliantly. Kante for Chelsea, Matic for United and Dembele/Wanyama for Spurs all do a great job of breaking up the play and starting attacks. Liverpool don’t really have a player like that, and I feel they will need to eventually sign a player in the same catergory as the other top teams in order to really challenge for the title.
Overall though Liverpool are in a healthy position in the league and have a second date with Hoffenheim on Wednesday to progress to the group stages of the Champions League. The final couple of weeks of the transfer market could be crucial to Liverpool’s season. A few more players would be useful for us battling on four fronts this season. Could be an exciting deadline day this time around.
Man of the Match: Andrew Robertson
Next PL Fixture: Arsenal (H)