Liverpool continued their winning ways with a hard fought 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, where there were mixed performances from several men in red.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool
Premier League, Selhurst Park
August 20, 2018
Goals: Milner 45’, Mane 90+3’
Alisson – 8 (out of 10)
The biggest test of his Liverpool career to date against a physical Palace outfit and his ice-cool first touch under pressure exemplified the way in which he played out the remainder of the game.
The Brazilian was largely a spectator in the first half but when called upon in the second term he duly impressed with both his distribution and shot stopping ability.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6.5
The youngster is still noticeably finding his groove as his crossing was wayward at best, but he grew into the game and failed to sit on his heels as proved to be a constant option on the right-hand side alongside the likes of Mane and Salah.
Joe Gomez – 7.5
There should be no doubt about Gomez’s ability to become a mainstay alongside Van Dijk after failing to be troubled against either the presence of Christian Benteke or the pace of Wilfried Zaha.
Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip will be looking over their shoulders as he does not look like he will be giving his spot away on the cheap.
Virgil van Dijk – 9 (Man of the Match)
The calm and ever vocal Van Dijk proved once again how instrumental he has become to the Reds’ backline as he failed to give Palace a sniff in aerial duels – is the man even capable of being beaten in the air?
Vitally as the tempo was taken up a notch his confidence was imparted on his young centre-back partner and the pair were able to navigate through a period of play which would have easily spelt trouble in the years past.
Andy Robertson – 7
A key member of the backline which offered very little in clear-cut chances to the Eagles while also posing as a threat going the other way.
His overlapping runs alongside Mane is proving to be a cornerstone of his game and gave Liverpool a lot of success in behind their defence.
Another solid display from the Scotsman.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7.5
Once again playing as the anchor of the team and Wijnaldum showed no signs of being displaced by either Jordan Henderson or Fabinho as he proved he has the physicality and distribution qualities to thrive in the role.
The questions lingering over his ability to play away from a home seem to be a thing of the past – hallelujah.
James Milner – 6.5
Rightfully maintaining his place in the side following an impressive opening game, Milner struggled to have a similar impact on proceedings, but his penalty conversion ensured he was Mr. Reliable at a crucial point in the game.
Henderson coming on in his place could signal Jurgen Klopp’s intentions to give him a break next week.
Naby Keita – 7.5
Bar a wayward pass in the first which led to Andros Townsend’s strike off the bar, Keita oozed class and poise amid the Eagles’ impending pressure and could have been nailed on for an early candidate for assist of the season had Salah converted his sublime over the top ball.
Keita already looks at home in the middle of the park, but the feeling remains that he has yet to get out of second gear.
Mohamed Salah – 6
It was an uncharacteristically poor performance from the Egyptian as his first touch often eluded him.
But his knack of being in the right place at the right time – and his presence alone- was enough to create two match-defining moments as he forced Mamadou Sakho into conceding a penalty and Aaron Wan-Bissaka to be given his marching orders.
Sadio Mane – 8.5
For the second week running Mane proved to be the brightest spark for the Reds and was a constant menace for the Palace defence.
His passing to the right flank was pivotal in forcing the opposition to create space, and his awareness of his teammates’ movement was second to none – with his goal at the death putting the cherry on top of yet another impressive display.
Early signs indicate yet another scintillating season awaits.
Roberto Firmino – 6.5
Firmino had another relatively quiet outing with his sharpness still yet to return following his late return from his World Cup exploits.
Although he failed to standout he proved effective in dropping into midfield to hold up play, where his work rate was still unquestionable.
There will be better days ahead for the Brazilian.
Starting XI Average Rating: 7.58
Jordan Henderson (on for James Milner, 67′) – 7 – Henderson injected fresh legs and effectively saw the game out.
Adam Lallana (on for Naby Keita, 87’) – N/A – No time to make an impact.
Daniel Sturridge (on for Roberto Firmino, 90+3”) – N/A – No time to make an impact.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Matip, Shaqiri
Jurgen Klopp – 9
A few eyebrows were raised with the omission of Fabinho from the matchday squad, but the decision to head to Selhurst Park with an unchanged starting XI was key to securing a valuable win on the road.
Liverpool struggled to get going early on but as the game progressed the Reds proved why they are considered to be a genuine title contender as a fixture which has caused us to slip up in the past was navigated with the poise and confidence which many have long craved.
With another test checked off, it’s onward to Brighton at Anfield.