Liverpool successfully fought back after going a goal down and having James Milner red-carded. Up steps Emre Can to inspire a Liverpool comeback with a brilliant display.
I get really confused when I hear people claim that Can needs to be swapped for a player with more experience. The 22-year old shows maturity beyond his years and never seems to waver when confronted by the Premier League’s best, such as Sergio Agüero or Mesut Özil .
At Selhurst Park, Can stepped up and took charge and almost seemed omnipresent. While it may seem a lack of discipline to be racing all over the park trying to do everything, he showed a hunger and desire that Klopp craves in his players.
This desire to win the back all the time was not for nought as he won 93% of his duels, according to Squawka. This is comparable to the 53% he has averaged throughout the season. He had 104 touches and played a pass accurately 81% of the time displaying his influence on the game.
He always looks most impressive when carrying the ball at speed. His strength and quality on the ball make it difficult to stop him when he gets in to full stride. This was soon the reality for Palace midfielders Joe Ledley, Mile Jedinak and Yohann Cabaye
Klopp will be very pleased with Can’s performance, not just in securing the crucial three points but also with the fact that his form is coming at the perfect time. Liverpool are at a crunch time in their season and are desperate for Champions League football which looks like a slim proposition at the moment.
With Can playing the way he is in the centre of the park he will be crucial in Thursday’s tie against Manchester United in the Europa League. Both sides know what is at stake and this season Can has already shown his willingness to put in a shift and graft to get a result. The victory at Crystal Palace just happened to be when he got acknowledged.
When Brendan Rodgers signed Can there was a lot of talk about how he could be a world class midfielder and at Selhurst Park we saw the qualities that gave voice to these dreams. He was tackling, dribbling, shooting and just in general doing everything he could to stop Crystal Palace and get Liverpool going.
The best defensive midfielders in the world, Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal etc. excel at stopping attacks before they really get going. While Can isn’t really a specialist defensive midfielder he was brilliant at cutting out attacks and making tackles in Palace’s own half. This meant that on several occasions he was able to prevent Liverpool getting outnumbered by attacking runners like Wilfired Zaha or Yannick Bolasie.
“It’s more about passion than formation.” It’s this quote, as found on Liverpool’s official website, that exemplifies what Klopp is all about. He would scream and shout all day at his players if they were out of position but he would be much more unhappy if they displayed a lack of passion and drive for the team.
Klopp will relish the challenge of developing a player who displays Can’s eagerness for the game and willingness to learn. In his time at Borussia Dortmund, Klopp showed that his skills at honing the talents of young stars are almost unparalleled. Can should know this and be excited. He has a bright future at only 22 years of age.
There is no doubt that Emre Can will start against Manchester United on Thursday in the round of 16 clash at Anfield. Sturridge who was rested will also start and will add a sharpness to Liverpool’s game which was lacking on Liverpool’s trip to South London. If the rest of Liverpool’s team can play with Emre Can’s exemplary drive and desire there is no reason they should not sweep Manchester United aside on Thursday evening.