Liverpool were perhaps not at their best but were able to put together a dominant display on their way to a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace, with standouts at both ends.
Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace
Premier League (5), Anfield
September 18, 2021
Goals: Mane 43′, Salah 78′, Keita 89′
Alisson – 9 (out of 10) – Man of the Match
After a quiet first half – bar that opening salvo – Alisson had to be at his sharpest upon the restart, with a series of saves and claims keeping Palace at bay when chances arose.
The Brazilian bailed his defence, and in particular Ibrahima Konate, out on a number of occasions, showing why he is one of the best in the world in his position.
James Milner – 8
A late inclusion due to illness for Trent Alexander-Arnold, Milner was tasked with a nightmare duty at right-back as he faced off against Wilfried Zaha – the man responsible for two of his career red cards.
The vice-captain bossed it throughout, and with Zaha a fading force, Milner found more opportunities to drive forward and threaten in the final third.
Ibrahima Konate – 6
A debut for Konate brought a tough test, and it is clear he should remain as fourth-choice centre-back for the time being, despite a largely comfortable display.
The Frenchman showed patience and strength in denying Zaha and Christian Benteke in the box, but was loose on the ball at points, most notably as he let Zaha through for a chance only wasted by a poor touch from Conor Gallagher.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
After a rest in midweek, Van Dijk was back to his effortless standard as he slotted in alongside the debutant Konate, helping to guide the youngster through.
It was an unremarkable game from the No. 4, which is often the highest praise.
Kostas Tsimikas – 7
Now a capable stand-in for Andy Robertson, Tsimikas’ biggest plus from the afternoon may simply have been allowing a tired Scot to sit on the bench untroubled for 90 minutes.
Tsimikas was the main outlet from full-back for at least the first half, and produced a host of good crosses, while defensively he was sound – apart from a bizarre challenge on Benteke that could have led to a penalty.
Fabinho – 7
The Brazilian will be due a rest on Tuesday night at Carrow Road, after four starts in a row sandwiching the international break.
It is testament to Fabinho‘s quality that he has been as reliable as ever while those around him have been rotated.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Harvey Elliott‘s ankle injury is a real setback for Liverpool, but Henderson appears to be relishing the tweaked right-sided role in the teenager’s absence.
He made smart third-man runs, drive down the flanks with skill and power and looked to test Vicente Guaita on a number of occasions, all while dropping deep when required to keep things ticking.
Thiago – 8
His ability to change pace at will and dictate attacks with just the speed of his passing is exceptional, and it was a big blow as he was forced off through injury on the hour mark.
Hopefully it’s not a serious one for Liverpool, as Thiago would be a big miss.
Mohamed Salah – 9
He’ll take the booking, for a classic celebration of a brilliant volley at the far post to make it 2-0.
Salah will have found much of the game frustrating in an attacking sense, particularly as he was only given difficult chances to convert for the most part, but he was there to score a decisive goal.
The real virtue of his performance, though, came in support of Milner at right-back, with Salah tracking back tirelessly throughout to help keep Zaha quiet.
Sadio Mane – 8
Mane continues to explore all avenues to get his mojo back, and slowly but surely, it seems to be working.
There were occasions when he stuttered and fluffed his lines, but the No. 10 kept plugging away and was rewarded with his 100th Liverpool goal – and a record nine in a row against Palace.
Diogo Jota – 5
Does Jota have the right personality to be a reliable starter?
Too often he was too static, lacking the tactical intuition Roberto Firmino offers in the No. 9 role, while his first-half miss from all of three yards out was one of the worst you’ll ever see.
His presence was an obvious threat, but Jota was far too often on the periphery and rightly brought off with 15 minutes to play.
Curtis Jones (on for Jota, 76′) – 6 – Kept play going nicely as his stint as utility man goes on.
Divock Origi (on for Henderson, 87′ – N/A – The renaissance continues!
Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Phillips, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino
Jurgen Klopp – 8
After four changes against AC Milan, Klopp made another six at the weekend, and though the display may have been less overwhelming, he was rewarded with another win.
Not only another win, but another clean sheet, with only one goal conceded in the opening five Premier League games.
Though questions have been raised over the depth of Klopp’s squad, fuelled by injuries to Elliott and Firmino, the Reds are riding the challenges well and maintaining their consistency.
Like in midweek, the manager used his bench intelligently, albeit with the most influential substitute coming out of necessity due to Thiago‘s calf problem.