Sanjay Nair discusses the main talking points from Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday.
After 3 weeks on the road, Liverpool finally played their first home game of the year against the last team to beat them at home.
For some reason, Crystal Palace have always caused us a load of issues and the latest encounter between the two was no different. A rather fortuitous win in a seven-goal thriller was how it ended at Anfield and we march on towards that elusive Premier League title, although not without some worrying talking points.
All eyes were on Naby Keïta who was a surprise inclusion ahead of Xherdan Shaqiri, given the recent form of both. Ahead of the game, the manager stated that Keïta had shown tremendous form in training and this was the clincher in his selection into the starting XI.
Over the 70-odd minutes that he played, however, Keïta did not do enough to justify his selection. Yes, there was the assist for Firmino’s goal but that aside, we did not get to see anything substantial from him.
The talent is there, no doubt whatsoever, but the confidence is definitely lacking at this point. Perhaps, it would be better to limit Keïta to cameos off the bench unless we are struggling with injuries to others.
Defensive stability takes a beating
For a side that had conceded 10 goals overall and just 3 at home in 22 games this seasons, this match will come as an absolute shocker. The manner in which we let in all 3 goals left a lot to be desired.
Once Tomkins was allowed space to head home a corner, Liverpool looked shaky at every set piece that followed. The defence soon took on a throwback mode to the Liverpool of a few seasons ago, vulnerable in the air and generally all over the place when dealing with counter-attacks.
Luckily for them, there was enough fire-power up front to overcome the setbacks and no damage was done to the title aspirations. 10 days and some warm weather will do wonders to clear the head and resume normal service at the back.
Confidence boost for Fab-3
Mohamed Salah once again was at the forefront of things, reacting best to the two half-chances that came his way. Firmino too added another to his season’s tally, albeit via another deflection off a Palace defender.
However, the most relieved goal-scorer on the afternoon had to Sadio Mané, whose stoppage-time strike turned out to be the eventual winner. Mané has not been at his best this season and hopefully, this will push him to elevate this game and take our Fab-3 to another level, especially with Bayern and Manchester United lying in wait in a months’ time.
Perhaps this match gave us more negatives than positives to reflect upon, but the fact that Liverpool still came out on top with 3 points shows that we have the mental toughness to go deep into the title run.
Resources at the back are threadbare, but whether this will prompt Klopp to buy a cover especially at right-back is still anybody’s guess.
For now, enjoy the 3 points and the ride !!!