Liverpool made it two wins out of two in the Premier League with a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. But what were the key stats as the Reds continued their impressive start to the season?
Reds Run At Palace Continues
Palace are a team that most Liverpool fans hate to play, and for good reason, but Liverpool have now won all four games played at Selhurst Park under Jürgen Klopp. Admittedly most of those have been hard-fought, with two scrappy late winners in two 2-1 games, but nevertheless, this is Klopp’s third win in a row against Palace and fifth in six (again admittedly all by one or two goals). Palace might not be a team that we like to play, but they’re a team that we know how to beat.
One man in particular who loves to play Crystal Palace is Sadio Mané, who scored his sixth goal against the Eagles in eight attempts, having also scored in both games against them last season. Mané is certainly on a hot streak with three in two, and now 14 goals in 18 games for LFC.
Defensive Dominance The Key To LFC’s Win
Two wins in two, two clean sheets in two, two games in which Liverpool haven’t looked like conceding. Palace created very little, an xG of just 0.38, with their biggest chances coming late on, and Max Meyer’s attempt with five minutes left the only shot to register a double-digit xG at 0.11.
The key to this is, of course, Virgil Van Dijk, who made eight clearances, one interception, two tackles and wasn’t dribbled past once. Crucially, he took the pressure off Joe Gomez, taking on 12 defensive aerial duels compared to Gomez’s three, and winning eight of them. Even when Benteke won the header against VVD, he wasn’t able to do anything with it. And at set pieces, with so many crucial headers required, it was VVD who stepped up. But he wasn’t the only one, with Keita making five tackles out of six, Gini three out of three, and Robertson four out of six.
Salah At The Heart Of It All
Salah had a weird day at the office. Overall I wouldn’t say he played particularly well, but he was at the heart of everything that LFC did. He had the most xA in the team at 0.91, creating the most chances with four, and creating a big chance for Mané with his assist for the second goal. He also won a penalty, secured a red card for Palace, had 0.72 xG and hence an xG Chain of 1.71, which considering LFC’s open play xG was 2.05 and their overall xG 2.83 was really impressive.
That said, whilst Mo’s underlying numbers remained excellent, his finishing was very poor on the day. With his six shots and aforementioned 0.72 xG, including one big chance, Salah failed to convert, and in fact only hit the target on one occasion. Salah is the sort of talent where to only get one assist, win a penalty, get an opposition player sent off, and only have 0.72 xG is considered an off-day. What a player.
Reds Among The Early Front-Runners
Whilst City remain top on goal difference, Liverpool are the early Premier League pace-setters in terms of underlying numbers. And it’s certainly hard to argue with two games, two wins, six goals scored and none conceded. Here are said underlying numbers, courtesy of Si Brundish. Up The Reds.
XG for 6.76
XG against 0.78
Both the Best in the league so far
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) August 20, 2018