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Klopp’s tweaks key with “the steeliness needed to complement the style” – Media on Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool

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The media praised Liverpool’s battling spirit and Jurgen Klopp’s tactical tweaks as the Reds fought back to earn a vital 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.

A spirited second-half comeback ensured the Reds tightened grip on a top-four spot with a priceless victory at Selhurst Park.

Jurgen Klopp’s side fell behind to Luka Milivojevic’s penalty which left the Reds trailing 1-0 at half-time following a poor first half.

Liverpool improved after the break and Sadio Mane’s sharp finish drew the Reds level, before man-of-the-moment Mohamed Salah once again made himself the match-winning hero.

It was a vital win and one which piled pressure on rivals, opening up a huge 10-point gap on fifth-placed Chelsea, and Klopp will be delighted to have ground out victory in tricky circumstances.

Here’s what the media made of a great Reds fightback.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 31, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by Dave Shopland/Propaganda)

Reporters praised the Reds’ spirit to fight back and claim what was a crucial win for numerous reasons…

The Mail’s Oliver Holt said Liverpool proved they have the steeliness to compliment the style:

“But Liverpool showed again that they have resolve to go with their fluid play. They rode Palace’s spells of dominance here and found a way to win.”

Our own Henry Jackson assessed the Reds’ winning mentality as key, and praised Klopp for instilling this in the team:

Jurgen Klopp didn’t get a good performance out of his players, but it is testament to the manager that Liverpool are now ‘winning ugly’.

“He has instilled a winning mentality, with the Reds prevailing in tricky away matches far more than they used to.”

The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce was among those to assess victory as vital to ensuring winning momentum is brought into Wednesday’s first-leg clash with Man City:

“It may not have been a performance to strike fear into Manchester City but, crucially, the Reds will go into Wednesday night’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at Anfield with momentum maintained.”

For Goal, Neil Jones reckons a Tottenham win over Chelsea on Sunday would secure Liverpool’s top-four place, such is the Reds’ position after this win:

“A win for Spurs would probably secure Liverpool’s Champions League spot.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 31, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the 2-1 victory during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by Dave Shopland/Propaganda)

Certain journalists praised Klopp for the tactical tweaks which proved crucial to digging out victory

This is Anfield’s Karl Matchett was one of those, explaining how Klopp’s move in switching formation swung the game in his side’s favour:

“No question about it: Jurgen Klopp’s tweaked tactics in the second half won the game for the Reds at Selhurst Park. Moving to a back three eliminated to a large extent the problems the Reds had had with the Palace long ball, flick-on and chasing of the second ball.

“It also added extra protection behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, who had struggled defensively against Wilf Zaha, and allowed Salah to be a more permanent fixture through the centre of the attack.”

The Liverpool Echo’s Kristian Walsh felt the change of shape worked perfectly because it allowed Salah to stay in the central positions he continually thrives in:

“Salah, in the centre forward position, did what he only knows how. Goal number 37, a figure which needs reading out loud to truly appreciate.

“The Egyptian often takes up residence in those central positions, but after the enforced change in formation, he was never going to be anywhere else.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 31, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson look dejected as Crystal Palace score the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by Dave Shopland/Propaganda)

Reporters saw concerns with the defensive display though, with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s form heavily discussed…

Jones felt Liverpool were fortunate to not be punished and warned there is no room for such carelessness against a City outfit who won’t be as forgiving:

“Better, more confident teams than Palace will punish such lapses, and teams don’t come better or more confident than City. Liverpool will look to attack at Anfield, but tightening up is a must against Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Co.”

For ESPN, Nick Ames was critical of the defending in the build up to Palace’s penalty and thought it showed the Reds are not learning from mistakes:

“It was eerily similar to the move that brought Marcus Rashford’s first goal in the defeat at Old Trafford last month – in that case a long ball upfield, a Romelu Lukaku flick-on and a Rashford dash beyond Alexander-Arnold – and added to the sense that Klopp’s team do not always learn from their mistakes.”

SINSHEIM, GERMANY - Tuesday, August 15, 2017: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Champions League Play-Off 1st Leg match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Liverpool at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mail’s Dominic King thought the defensive display showed Liverpool could be their own worst problem in upcoming games:

“Yet there was enough here just to put doubt in the mind and leave you feeling that Liverpool have the capability of being their own worst enemy, regardless of what plan Pep Guardiola has in mind for his flying squad.”

Ames thinks Alexander-Arnold’s struggling form means Nathaniel Clyne’s return can’t come quickly enough:

“They could be heartened by Nathaniel Clyne‘s return to the substitutes’ bench at Selhurst Park, his first appearance in a squad this season after back surgery, and on this evidence they will hope he gets back up to speed quickly.”

Walsh feels Klopp now has a tough decision to make at right-back, and thinks it would be wise to take Alexander-Arnold out of the side:

“Up next, however, is Manchester City and Leroy Sane. A team and a player Alexander-Arnold struggled against in September, losing 5-0, albeit with mitigating circumstances.

“With Nathaniel Clyne back on the bench, Klopp has a decision to make. It has been a long, hard and successful season for Alexander-Arnold. With a target on his back however, he might need to be taken out of the firing line.”

However, the Mirror’s Neil McLeman thought familiar problems arose in attack, noting how the Reds struggled to break deep-sitting Crystal Palace down:

“Roy Hodgson set up his team to frustrate the Reds – and it worked.

[…]

“Liverpool failed to create enough clear-cut chances and could easily have been punished on the counterattack after the break.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 31, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the winning second goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by Dave Shopland/Propaganda)

And Salah was hailed once again for his match-winning heroics…

Walsh raved about the Egyptian’s ability to still be the difference even when not at his best:

“But even in his quietest moments, the quality of Salah speaks louder than all. He is just one of those players. He should be cherished, for there are few of them.”

Finally, Holt thinks Salah has the ability to be the difference in the looming ties with City, and believes Pep Guardiola’s side will fear the Egyptian:

“Liverpool are on a roll and even if City are uncatchable in the league, they do not have Mohamed Salah. Salah is simply unstoppable and he was unstoppable again in south London.

[…]

“City, in their current exalted state, do not fear many players but they will fear him.”

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