Liverpool ran out winners against bogey team Crystal Palace on Monday night, leaving fresh hope that Klopp’s side can truly match Man City for the Premier League title this season. Goals from James Milner and Sadio Mane confirmed a 2-0 win, giving the Reds six points from a possible six thus far.
Here are the observations from the match.
Mane in for a stellar campaign
If Salah was Liverpool’s main man last season, it sure as hell looks like Mane could be their man this year. A brilliant clearance from Van Dijk unleashed Salah whose ball fed straight into Mane’s path. From there it was about determination and strength, with the Senegal international brushing Van Aanholt aside before rounding Hennessey and slotting home.
A breakaway goal oozing class, Mane was on top form at Selhurst Park, taking his tally to three goals for the season and setting down a real marker than despite Salah’s relatively sluggish start, Liverpool’s three-pronged attack is alive and kicking.
Van Dijk a colossus as Reds gain clean sheet
Much of the reasons attributed to why Liverpool were so far off winning or even challenging, for the league was placed on their rocky back-four that shipped 30+ goals a season and was riddled with individual errors. Thus, heading into the new campaign with Van Dijk embarking on his first full season at Anfield in front of the club’s new No.1, much of the hope has been about Liverpool clamping down on their goals conceded tally.
Albeit only two games into a long season, the performance at Crystal Palace confirmed just how far the back-four had come since Van Dijk’s arrival. The Dutchman was a colossus at the back, displaying the authoritative, commanding figure Liverpool have lacked since the days of Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyppia. Fending off aerial balls all night, the Reds finally look like they’ve got a sturdy unit thanks to the continuous marshalling and communication shown from Van Dijk. United’s recent defence woes show money doesn’t always buy quality centre-backs but that £75m transfer is starting to look like a real snip.
Palace result a marker for where the team is heading
Palace will forever be named the bogey team for Liverpool after the harrowing 3-3 draw, back in 2013/14 when Brendan Rodgers’ side was vying for the league title. However, Monday’s 2-0 win laid down a real marker for just how much the side have progressed under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp; brimming with defensive authority and composure, Liverpool displayed their frenetic attack, outplaying and outclassing the Londoners to keep pace with the incredibly high bar City have already established this season.
To win relatively comfortably against a side known for their grit and physicality is a great indication for the season this side could have. There can be no doubting Liverpool are the closest challengers to City this year and comfortable 2-0 wins will have to become a regularity if that elusive title is to make it’s way to Anfield. You couldn’t have asked for a better start, though.