Talking Points: Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool produced a perfect away performance to overcome their standard tricky visit to Selhurst Park and emerge with a 2-0 victory. A first-half penalty from James Milner was followed by Sadio Mane’s late goal, as Jürgen Klopp’s men continued their winning run.

Are we looking at a title winning defence?…

Can we actually say it now? Can we now actually say with confidence that Liverpool are a quality defensive outfit? Well, the stats since Virgil Van Dijk arrived in January certainly back it up, if not highlighting that we are now the best at defending in the League. Clean sheets and preventing shots on goal are two areas in which the Reds are now thriving, and we saw both against Crystal Palace. Joe Gomez has ben superb in the first two games of the season and is looking right at home alongside Van Dijk. The pair communicate well while still excelling in their individual battles and aerial duels. Fullbacks Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson coped fairly well with the pace of Wilfred Zaha, and still offered outlets going forward – though Trent’s crossing is still not yet at his usual standards. Some mention must of course go to new signing Alisson, who wasn’t too heavily involved, but when called upon made a couple of good saves while displaying his excellent passing range and ability. If Liverpool’s back five can continue to produce the clean sheets and number of goals they have been conceding since the end of last season, they will have a defence that is statistically comfortably good enough to win the title.

Mane the main man as Salah still contributes…

There were times last season when Mo Salah was the one scoring all the goals, while Sadio Mane, despite not finding the net that often in the League, was still contributing in games with assists and involvement in key moments. For the start of this season, especially against Palace, the roles have been reversed, with Mane the one finding the net while Salah provides the assists. The Egyptian was far from his best on Monday night, with Salah struggling with his first touch and passing in the first-half. But as all the best players do, Salah still won his side the penalty which Milner scored, made the run which drew the foul and hence got Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent off, and set up Mane for his third goal of the season. 3 crucial and game winning involvements when nowhere near his best show just how good Salah is. Back to Mane, and it is clear how his role in the time has changed slightly since Philippe Coutinho’s departure, with the winger happy to switch the play and act as a creator. But Mane is still as dangerous as ever in wide areas, and his three goals already this season show that he is ready to take his game to the next level.

Set-piece weakness now perfect opportunity for goals…

There was a time when Liverpool were extremely vulnerable and prone to conceding goals from set-pieces. But with the defensive improvement mentioned above, this weakness now seems a thing of the past, and has in fact been turned into an area Klopp’s side can score goals and be a real threat from. Liverpool fans will remember Salah’s goals at home to Arsenal and away to West Ham last season, in which the Reds cleared an opposition corner, raced forwards on the counter with their pacey attackers and scored. Mane’s goal against Palace was exactly the same – Van Dijk wins the header, Salah races away before playing in Mane who makes it 2-0. The fact that Liverpool’s opponents are arguably now more likely to concede from their own corner than score from it bodes very well for the Merseysiders.

Reds getting decsions and breaks needed for title challenge…

Liverpool fans know just how ridiculously unlucky they were with officiating decsions and other factors in the League last season, and many points were dropped as a result. But so far this season things have been different thankfully, and although you would never wish injuries upon opposition players, they do help your cause. This season factors such as Mane’s offside goal, De Bruyne’s injury, Vardy’s suspension, Bravo’s injury and the penalty and red card against Palace, will be massive boosts to Liverpool’s title challenge as these are the kind of things that need to go your way to win trophies. Of course many believe that you need to make your own luck, and even though that might not be true amongst the cruelness of the Premier League, the Reds have certainly been putting in performances worthy of receiving a few bits of good fortune.

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