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Konate’s debut & changes for Norwich – Last word on Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace

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It was an eventful afternoon as Liverpool overcame Crystal Palace with a 3-0 win at Anfield, with Ibrahima Konate making his debut and Sadio Mane hitting a milestone.

The Reds were made to fight early on, as a well-organised Palace threatened Alisson on a number of occasions, but eventually came through with the victory.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring with his 100th goal for the club, with Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita both volleying home to ensure a comfortable result for Liverpool.

With Jurgen Klopp having made four changes in midweek and six more against Palace, it was a productive afternoon for the Reds.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) and Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) pick apart the performance and look ahead to the League Cup.

 

Verdict on Konate’s debut?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: On the whole, it has to go down as an impressive debut for Konate, who rarely looked out of place against awkward opponents.

Was he perfect? No. But he looks like a centre-back who has all the ingredients to become a truly formidable player over time, and a long-term key man.

He dealt well with the physical threat of both Benteke and Edouard, and his pace came in handy at times, which is such a key attribute for any centre-back.

Without his own lightning speed, Van Dijk wouldn’t be close to the same player, for example.

There is clearly a rawness to Konate that we are going to have to accept – jumping into tackles, getting caught out of position and so on – so I don’t think he will be a regular starter for the time being. He is only 22, after all.

This was a promising start, though.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté (R) and Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: I agree with Henry that the quality is clearly there, though I feel Konate is a work in progress at present.

As it stands, he should remain fourth-choice centre-back, but these outings alongside Van Dijk and likely Matip will serve him well as he adjusts to the system at Liverpool.

What I particularly liked about his debut was how he remained patient in challenges with Benteke and Zaha, both of whom offer very different threats, without resorting to rash challenges.

My biggest gripe, though, is his use of the ball – we saw it throughout pre-season, too, with Konate seemingly too eager to impress in possession.

Klopp described the game as a “harsh lesson” for life in the Premier League, and Konate will no doubt benefit.

 

How important has Mane been?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: Mane’s a funny one. I think it’s now easy to forget just how great he has been for Liverpool, because of last season’s woes and the manner in which Salah is now the undisputed star attacker.

I still think Mane is well short of his best, but there are signs that he is getting there.

Most of his game is good but his final decision is so poor and erratic too often. Then again, he’s still getting goals and his numbers remain good compared to most.

At 29, he is still very much in his peak years and I have no doubt that he is one of Liverpool’s most important players, perhaps after Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Fabinho.

He just needs to stop losing his head in the key moments and all will be fine – he is too good not to recover fully and remind everyone how special he is.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané (C) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: There is certainly a case for Mane being the most important signing of the Klopp era, having been the forward to kickstart the rise in qualifying for the Champions League.

Henry has touched upon the struggle he has faced over the past year-and-a-half, and it is clear that Mane is perhaps not the player he once was.

However, put him up against most other Premier League strikers and he would still be one of the best, with three goals in six games so far this season a testament to his enduring quality.

 

And who comes in vs. Norwich?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Naby Keita (C) celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: Put simply, I really couldn’t care less about the League Cup. It’s a trophy, yes, but it really doesn’t gauge a team’s success whatsoever.

For that reason, I would like to think many changes will be made at Norwich all over the pitch.

I’d give starts to Caoimhin Kelleher, Neco Williams, Nat Phillips, Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas, as well as James Milner, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield.

Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi should also come in and I would personally be terrified if any genuine key players started. It would be great to see youngster Kaide Gordon given a chance at some point, too.

If Liverpool win, great. If not, so be it. I fully respect that many won’t feel this way, though, and that I may well be in the minority.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 12, 2021: Liverpool's substitute Curtis Jones warms-up during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: The priority next week has to be the trip to Brentford on Saturday, but there is no reason why a rotated side can’t still beat Norwich.

Like Henry, I’d go with almost wholesale changes, with Kelleher, Phillips, Gomez, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino and Origi all certainties to start.

Klopp’s rotation against Palace would suggest that the likes of Andy Robertson and Joel Matip could come in, though, and it always seems to be the case that Liverpool go stronger than expected in these games.

It could be a good opportunity for the likes of Jones and Oxlade-Chamberlain, who have been utility players so far this season.

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