Doubts over title credentials eradicated with “statement” win – Media on Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool

21 August 2018

The media felt Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace was a statement victory and proved the Reds are serious contenders for the Premier League title.


If this was the first test of Liverpool’s title challenging credentials, Jurgen Klopp’s side passed it with flying colours.

A nervy night was in prospect at Selhurst Park but Reds battled superbly to dig out a big three points thanks to goals in added time of either half from James Milner – from the spot – and Sadio Mane.

It was a fantastic collective effort full of guts, spirit, determination as well as countless excellent individual performances right throughout the team.

Two games, six points, six goals scored and none conceded makes for a perfect start to the new campaign and here’s how the media assessed Monday’s sweet victory.

 

The media unanimously assessed the result as a statement win from Liverpool for the title race ahead

LONDON, ENGLAND - Monday, August 20, 2018: Liverpool's James Milner celebrates scoring the first goal from a penalty kick with team-mate Roberto Firmino (centre) and Naby Keita (right) during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield led those assessments, noting how the win showed the Reds are ready to seriously compete for the Premier League trophy:

In a season when they are expected to challenge, this was a statement of Liverpool’s intent.

The Mirror’s John Cross felt Klopp’s men eradicated any doubts over the legitimacy of their title credentials by grinding out the win:

If you wondered about Liverpool’s title credentials then wins like these in tough, feisty atmospheres away from home should prove the point.

The Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg thought manner of the victory made the result more impressive than the 4-0 opening day thrashing of West Ham:

In its own defiant way, this slender, bitty, draining victory over Crystal Palace was even more impressive than last week’s humiliation of West Ham.

The Mail’s Martin Samuel explained how the result now puts pressure on fellow title hopefuls throughout the season:

This is a very big result for Liverpool, and Klopp knew that. Title challengers will feel they have to win at Selhurst Park. Not because Crystal Palace are there for the taking – they are a good side, very well organised and extremely hard to defeat – but because Manchester City are the team to beat, and are capable of winning anywhere.

Now they have to match Liverpool and it will be a challenge – for them, or any other team with pretentions to lift the trophy next year.

And Steinberg also believes that the win showed why Liverpool are the only team genuinely capable of going the distance with Man City, with the Reds capable of winning in different ways:

Even at this early stage none of the other pretenders look as ready as Liverpool to sprint alongside Pep Guardiola’s champions now that steel accompanies their raw ability.

[…]

There is a different feel to this team, a more robust vibe after years of flakiness, a sense that they are learning how to win ugly.

 

Reporters were impressed with several aspects of the performance, particularly the defensive display

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk after the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Fifield thought the biggest positive was the strength and resilience displayed from the back-four and Alisson:

Elements of their performance here were rusty, and their manager must have craved them moving the ball far quicker than they managed at times to pull stubborn rivals from their defensive base, but the visitors could take huge heart from the strength demonstrated across their back line while their hosts boasted a full complement.

For the Evening Standard David Lynch noted how the Reds dealt with everything thrown at them by Roy Hodgson’s side:

Crystal Palace‘s mix of pace, physicality and quality going forward is a test for any defensive unit, but Liverpool stood up to everything thrown at them.

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez refused to be bullied by Christian Benteke, and gave his replacement Alexander Sorloth short shrift, too.

The Telegraph’s Jason Burt went one further, explaining how back-to-back clean sheets is the biggest positive from the start to the season as it makes the Reds “an even greater force”:

It also feels significant that they have claimed two clean sheets – the only Premier League team yet to concede – as they confirmed the expectation that they will be an even greater force this season.

The Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke attributed the win to Liverpool’s “patience, maturity and clinical edge”:

This 2-0 win was a testament to Liverpool’s patience, maturity and clinical edge when it mattered. They stood up to Palace’s thumping physicality, worked hard to get through their packed ranks, and took their two best chances to win the game.

Cross complimented Klopp’s side for holding their nerve under big pressure to deliver the three points:

Liverpool were sharp, lively and focused. When the atmosphere got red hot Jurgen Klopp’s men held their nerve and came through.

The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce praised Klopp’s transfer business, complimenting the boss for addressing weaknesses and building a squad capable of dazzling and battling:

The club’s shrewd summer transfer business has addressed areas of glaring weakness and this is a squad capable of taking the “next step” Klopp craves after the agonising near misses of recent years.

There’s silk but there’s also steel. There’s plenty of inspiration but it’s coupled with an abundance of perspiration.

Interestingly, ESPN’s Steven Kelly identified an area for improvement, that being in how Liverpool need a better start to prevent being dragged down and into a scrap:

Without a generous penalty they’d have struggled to break down unadventurous opposition. More teams will try to drag Liverpool down to their level, so it’s important they get going a lot quicker than they did tonight.

 

Numerous Reds were singled out for shining performances

LONDON, ENGLAND - Monday, August 20, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s Liam Prenderville thought Naby Keita was the pick of the bunch and believes the new No.8 has already marked himself out as Liverpool’s best midfielder:

In just two matches, the midfielder has shown just why Klopp was so keen to bring him to Anfield. At Selhurst Park, he was at the heart of most of Liverpool’s play, seeing plenty of the ball throughout.

[…]

There is plenty of competition for places at Liverpool – particularly in midfield – but on this evidence, Keita will be keeping his.

Steinberg was also impressed by Keita, highlighting the Guinean’s courage and relentlessness to drive the Reds forward:

With that in mind, however, Keita’s willingness to keep accepting the ball was an impressive feature of his game. He refused to shrink, despite making a few unconvincing decisions, and his ability to burst forward made Liverpool’s electrifying attack even more dangerous.

The Mail’s Dominic King hailed Virgil van Dijk for stepping forward to provide the leadership and composure needed on a testing occasion:

There is a reason Jurgen Klopp was happy for Liverpool to obliterate their transfer record to sign Van Dijk and it was for nights such as these, when the atmosphere is intimidating and the stakes are high.

This when you want leaders to emerge and provide guidance and this is what Van Dijk does.

Our own Joel Rabinowitz praised both centre-backs and labelled van Dijk and Joe Gomez‘s performances “one of the finest displays seen from a Liverpool centre-back pairing”:

Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk delivered one of the finest displays from a Liverpool centre-back partnership in quite some time, working their way through a difficult encounter with an aura of composure and assurance about their play.

And finally, for Goal.com, Neil Jones reserved glowing praise for James Milner, assessing how the vice-captain “set the tone” for the Reds in the heat of the battle:

Milner, at 32, is very much the elder statesman of this Liverpool squad but his engine shows no sign of slowing.

He set the tone in terms of aggression, putting one particularly good challenge in on Zaha in the first half, and buzzed about the pitch, filling spaces, winning second balls, connecting with team-mates.

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