Liverpool came out on top in a six-goal thriller against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, where the Reds’ attacking brilliance was at its devastating best.
Crystal Palace 2-4 Liverpool
Premier League, Selhurst Park
October 29, 2016
Goals: Can 16′, Lovren 21′, Matip 44′, Firmino 71′; McArthur 18′, 33′
Liverpool moved back level on points with league leaders Man City as they triumphed in a hugely entertaining game against Alan Pardew’s Eagles.
Emre Can opened the scoring in a crazy first half as he converted from close range on 16 minutes, but a howler from Dejan Lovren allowed James McArthur to head past the onrushing Loris Karius and equalise.
Lovren made amends minutes later as his booming header from Philippe Coutinho’s corner restored the lead, but Liverpool were undone again when McArthur nodded home his second just after half-hour.
Joel Matip then notched his first Reds goal with an outstanding header to give his side a 3-2 half-time lead, and Roberto Firmino sealed victory with a delightful finish on 71 minutes as the Reds saw out a breathless contest.
Here are five talking points from the fantastic victory, including the magic of Coutinho.
Attacking Brilliance Brings Goals All Over
The Reds have earned plenty of plaudits for their attacking play this season, and at Selhurst Park they gave another devastating showing as they ripped the Eagles apart.
Liverpool’s movement and speed of play, led by the outstanding Coutinho, was quite simply breathtaking in the first half, with Sadio Mane‘s running, the cleverness of Firmino, and the support provided from the marauding Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne all contributing.
It was reflected best in an outstanding first goal that finished off by Can, after great work from Jordan Henderson, Coutinho and Moreno picked the home defence open.
The directness and accuracy of Liverpool’s counter-attacking play was also mesmerising, with Klopp’s side showing that they could score from all situations, including from set-pieces, as Lovren and Matip did, both powering headers home from brilliant Coutinho deliveries.
The Cameroonian became the 12th different player to score for Klopp’s side this season in the process, and the 24th of the German’s reign, epitomising the goalscoring threat Liverpool carry all over the pitch.
Brazilian Magician Star of the Show
Plenty of Reds impressed as Liverpool claimed victory at a notoriously difficult place to visit, but the pick of the bunch was unquestionably Coutinho.
The Brazilian was at his magnificent best in London, pulling the strings in attack to set the Reds in motion, and he carried the fight to Pardew’s men who had no answer to stopping the No. 10, who was involved in three of his side’s four goals.
In a quite simply magnificent first half, Coutinho sprung the attack for Can’s opener with a delightful chipped ball to release Moreno in behind, and he later whipped in two pin-point corners that Lovren and Matip powered in, before nearly finding the net himself only to see his header hit the post.
Though doing the majority of his work in the first 45 minutes with two direct assists, Coutinho was the Reds’ main man all game, and it was a joy to watch as he orchestrated Liverpool’s play and worked his socks off to keep Klopp’s side on the front foot.
Coutinho has elevated his output with goals and assists to another level this season, and in this kind of form he really is breathtaking.
Defensive Uncertainty Gifts Goals
In a performance of overwhelming positives, a couple of frustrations came from the continued inability to defend balls delivered into the box, and the shipping of yet more soft goals.
Self-destructing with individual mistakes has been a long-standing problem for this Liverpool squad and it was Lovren who delivered this time, allowing Palace back into the game through McArthur’s first with a woeful attempted clearance.
The Reds were then all at sea on a routine ball delivered into the box by Wilfried Zaha, with Lovren being out-jumped by McArthur after Moreno couldn’t stop the cross, and the disorganisation proved hugely frustrating again as Klopp’s side caused their own problems.
Though Matip dealt impressively well with Christian Benteke, the target of Palace’s crosses, whenever a ball entered the Reds’ 18-yard box Klopp’s side struggled to deal with it.
This nervousness throughout the back line in such situations is something that still needs to improve.
Alberto Moreno Much Improved
With James Milner unable to overcome illness in time to feature, Alberto Moreno returned to the starting lineup for the first time in the Premier League since his Arsenal nightmare.
Pressure was on the specialist left-back to perform, following Milner’s impressive showings as stand-in, and under the extra scrutiny the Spaniard impressed, turning in an impressively accomplished performance.
As typical with Moreno, he provided a fantastic marauding outlet on the left side, giving Liverpool a nice balance to their forward play, and he dominated his flank in the first half, claiming an assist for Can’s opener before hitting the post from a tight angle himself.
Bar a couple of iffy passes that invited pressure, the 24-year-old was much more settled defensively—making an impressive four tackles and six clearances—and he dealt well with the direct and tricky Zaha, using his pace and attacking intent to largely nullify the pacy winger.
Klopp recently assessed Moreno as being one of Liverpool’s best players in training, and it appears that work at Melwood is paying off.
Two Down, Six to Go
Having impressively negotiated a tough start to the season, Liverpool’s focus turned to taking full advantage of a winnable eight-game run—and the Reds have started as they mean to go on.
Picking up a vital three points against West Bromwich Albion last weekend ensured of the perfect start and Klopp’s side cemented a fast opening by making it six points from six as they strive to really put their excellent opening to the season to use.
Though the opening two games of the run have seen concerning moments with the soft goals conceded and nervy finishes to both contests, it has been a fantastic start for Klopp’s side, who have shown a hunger and desire to ensure a potentially prosperous run does indeed prove rewarding.
Retaining the focus and work rate put into these opening two games will be vital to maintaining pressure at the top of the table, with the Reds sat level on 23 points with Arsenal and City.
As Klopp stresses, concentration must be solely on the next game however. Next up is Watford at Anfield.