Keita to build & Alisson’s early test – 5 talking points ahead of Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool

20 August 2018

With Liverpool taking to the road for the first time this season to take on Crystal Palace tonight, Adam Hawkes takes a look at the big talking points.



Can Keita Build on His Impressive Debut?

Naby Keita had a debut to remember as he ran the show at home to an, admittedly, rather poor West Ham.

The Guinean was heavily involved in the opening goal, with a darting run and well-timed pass to Andrew Robertson resulting in a tap-in for Mohamed Salah.

His dynamism was evident throughout as he ran Mark Noble and Jack Wilshere ragged, registering 68 passes with an 88.2 percent accuracy. He also completed two dribbles and one key pass.

Speaking after the game, Jurgen Klopp attested to Keita’s ability to slot in and perform immediately.

“Naby is in because he’s a really good footballer and he’s obviously settled really quick,” he explained.

Hopefully a sign of things to come for the Liverpool man.

 

Can Zaha & Co. Give Alisson His Biggest Test Yet?

DUBLIN, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Saturday, August 4, 2018: Liverpool's new signing goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the preseason friendly match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at Landsdowne Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s safe to say that in his Premier League bow, Alisson didn’t have very much to do at all.

Marko Arnautovic was isolated throughout the game and Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson failed to have the expected impact.

Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke, on the other hand, have caused Liverpool problems in the past.

Benteke scored twice at Anfield in the 2016/17 season to win the game for Palace. Zaha, on the other hand, is coming off a fine season for the Eagles in which he bagged nine goals and five assists in 29 appearances for the south London club.

The Ivorian also scored in their victory over newly promoted London rivals Fulham last week, and was a constant threat to the Cottagers’ defence throughout.

Alisson and Co. must be at their best if they are to stop the dangerous duo that Palace possess.

 

Battle of the Full-Backs

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 7, 2018: Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In both teams’ first games, it was evident how important full-backs are to their respective systems.

For Palace, the emergence of young star Aaron Wan-Bissaka has come as a massive boost to Roy Hodgson. He had a great start to the season at Fulham, recording an assist for Zaha and keeping things neat and tidy at the back.

After the game, Hodgson said: “Wan Bissaka was really excellent today, both defensively and in attack, really causing them some problems.”

He clearly thinks very highly of the 20 year-old.

For Liverpool, on the opposite side and coming up against Wan-Bissaka, they have Andy Robertson. The Scot, like the Palace right-back, started off the season with a clean sheet and an assist in an all-round strong performance.

It will be very interesting to see what happens when they come up against each other, with both possessing lots of attacking threat and an abundance of pace.

On the other side, Patrick van Aanholt vs. Trent Alexander-Arnold is another fascinating battle.

Both of these combinations will be something to keep a very close eye on during tonight’s fixture.

 

Can Liverpool Continue Their Recent Selhurst Park Form?

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)

Liverpool’s recent form in SE25 is something to give the Reds optimism ahead of tonight’s game.

The Anfield side have won their last three Premier League games at Selhurst Park, the last of which came by a 2-1 scoreline, with Mohamed Salah netting a late winner to see off the hosts.

However, in Palace’s first two years back in the top flight, Liverpool were not so lucky at this ground.

The first of these two games was the famous comeback, dubbed ‘Crystanbul’ by Eagles fans. The year after, Liverpool were seen off comfortably by a 3-1 scoreline by the hosts.

It’s been plain sailing here since then though, and the Reds will hope to build on recent form here with another victory, this time optimistically in a more comfortable manner than the last.

 

Is It Fabinho’s Time to Shine?

CHARLOTTE, USA - Sunday, July 22, 2018: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during a preseason International Champions Cup match between Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool FC at the Bank of America Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One notable absentee from the Reds’ side at home to West Ham was Brazilian midfielder Fabinho.

While he was on the bench, it is presumed that he is being given more time to acclimatise to life in England, and also playing for Liverpool.

Fabinho has said: “Klopp demands a lot of his players. He and his technical staff tell me things that I need to improve, that no one has ever told me before.”

We could be seeing a similar approach from Klopp here to that of Robertson. Instead of being rushed in, the left-back was given time to learn the Klopp way of doing things and was able to fully adjust to the system.

It would come as no surprise if Fabinho was being treated in the same manner.

Despite this, there’s still a chance that Klopp believes the 24-year-old is ready, therefore sending him out for his competitive debut for the club.

It could go either way, but Liverpool fans will be hoping that they get to see their new £39 million signing in action for the first time proper at Selhurst Park.


* This is a guest article for This Is Anfield. If you’d like to contribute a piece for consideration please see this page. Follow Adam on Twitter, @virgiIvd.

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