League position: 2nd (goal difference)
Next fixture: Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield
Saturday 25th of August 17.30 pm BT Sports
Top Scorer: Sadio Mane 3 goals
Last Game: Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool (Dunnies Prediction 2-2)
Professional Pool, pick Palace apart.
Liverpool managed to fight for and grind out a 2-0 win against ten-man Crystal Palace on Sky’s Monday Night Football with a penalty from James Milner and a late second by Sadio Mane.
Liverpool controlled the tempo and possession early on, however after missing a glut of chances, they managed to take the lead through a James Milner penalty. Mohamed Salah was judged to have been tripped by Liverpool reject Mamadou Sakho with official Michael Oliver having no problem pointing to the spot. Some would argue that Salah went down in stages, he did. There was contact and in today’s climate its a penalty. Equally controversial was the taker, the ever-cool James Milner. Perhaps the acting captain was lucky to stay on the pitch after a wild tackle on Wilfred Zaha that had the Selhurst faithful in an uproar.
Crystal Palace as expected shut up shop quicker than a pub next to a traveller’s wedding when Liverpool caught possession, trying to stunt Liverpool’s blistering counter-attack. The Reds (or greys in this matter) were forced to spray the ball wide to both Alexander-Arnold and Robertson for some inspiration. The duo was solid, but as Klopp pointed out afterwards could play far better. The home side had little to show in the first half bar a cracking shot from Andros Townsend which almost broke the cross-bar. The half-chance stemmed from a mistimed pass by the otherwise excellent Naby Keita.
Speaking of Keita, going forward the Guinean has bags of pace and guile, his aggression is wonderful. His turn in front of his own box and ball over the top to Mo Salah, only for the talisman to misjudge his dink, was exquisite. However, when the 23-year-old proved sloppy in possession and almost gifted Crystal Palace an opener minutes later, his blasé reaction was infuriating. It is not acceptable to jog at a leisurely pace with your hands out in an “it wasn’t my fault” fashion while expecting your teammates to clean up YOUR mess. This is something that Klopp must fix, it’s bad for morale and does not fit into his ethos.
Mo Salah had a night in front of goal he’d probably rather forget after missing two guilt edged chances, however, he proved to make a difference on the 75th minute. The Egyptian ran through on goal forcing Palace right-back Wan-Bassaka to take him out leading to an automatic red card. No complaints from the young defender or the normally vociferous Selhurst Park, as he had simply done his duty. Consequently his actions effectively killed the game and whatever chance ‘the Eagles’ had for an equaliser was quashed when the ever-cautious Roy Hodgson replaced Andros Townsend with Joel Ward a couple of minutes later. Hodgson showing exactly why the Kop faithful could never quite take to the Croydon manager.
Liverpool finally sealed the deal when the Reds broke from a Palace corner on the 93rd minute and blunt instrument for the night Mo Salah made played in Sadio Mane to guarantee the 3 points.
After Liverpool’s drubbing of West Ham on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, I did say that enough questions were not asked of Liverpool’s defensive axis of Allison, van Dijk and Gomez to form an opinion. However, there were plenty of questions asked last night’s visit to South East London and I have to say I was impressed by the answers.
What a difference Allison Becker and van Dijk have made to Liverpool’s previously rocky back line.
Allison wasn’t quite as busy as his counterpart in the opposite goal, however, the Brazilian was more than equal when called upon making three smart saves, the best from a cheeky free kick. His calmness on the ball and wonderful distribution cannot go unnoticed, time and time again he was happy to receive the ball from an under pressure full-back and equally as happy to play it out to feet. A goalie that is confident and capable on the ball is a must for modern football and begs the question: Why did it take so long for Jurgen Klopp to remedy the situation?
Never mind, he’s here now and more importantly, especially for team confidence, Lorius Karius looks set for Istanbul (read below).
Man of the match Virgil van Dijk was even been compared by Jamie Carragher to Liverpool legend Alan Hansen for his poise and composure. The big Dutchman had Christian Benteke (who looks finished as a Premier League striker) in his pocket throughout the game and helped put the raw but talented Joe Gomez through his paces. For me, this must be Liverpool’s pairing in the centre of defence, Gomez is no full back.
‘Rock and Roll’ football, it certainly was not. It was never expected to be. It was tight, aggressive (which Liverpool handled superbly) and patient. A professional performance and the type of result required to challenge for a league, though say it quietly, it’s still very early days.
Good Lad Andy
Andy Robertson is going to have his wages doubled to 60k a week according to reports, the Scottish left-back has impressed on his debut season for the Reds and looks to just get better and better. The 24-year-old still has three years to run in a contract he signed just 13 months ago, however, Jurgen Klopp and his staff are so impressed with the youngster they want to reward his remarkable progress. Well done young man and thank Christ we don’t have to rely on Albert Moron anymore. Just remember not to accept any offers of tea and the like from the Spaniard…
Lorius Karius is off to Turkey on a two-year loan with Besiktas! Hooray!!! This must come as a huge relief for both the club and the player. Although, if Karius repeats his antics between the sticks in Istanbul as he has done in front of the Kop, you can expect the young German to be put in front of a different wall of noise…
Thank Christ Part 2
Apparently, Ragnar Klavan was ‘convinced’ to leave Liverpool for Serie A outfit because of their happy times there… Nothing to do with the fact that you were sh*t Ragnar?
Gary Neville has finally broken that iron stubbornness that once led to this father being called Neville Neville and donned the famous red shirt. Of Liverpool. After appearing to renege on a bet with his best bud Jamie Carragher that the loser of a penalty shoot-out must don the jersey of the others’ team.
“That’s a Liverpool shirt – I’ll even buy it,” said Carragher after firing the winning spot kick. “I’ll tell you who’ll we’ll get, 23 Shaqiri on the back, he hates Shaqiri.”
Neville has previously criticised Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri and the Liverpool new-boy has joined in with the fun by signing a shirt for Neville to wear for the Crystal Palace v Liverpool game on Monday.
However, Neville’s swift response seemed to pour ice water on the idea…