Mane’s ton and more rotation – 5 talking points from Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace

Mane’s ton and more rotation – 5 talking points from Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace

Liverpool eventually got the job done in style, seeing off Crystal Palace by a deserved three-goal margin with all three goals from their African trio.

Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace

Premier League, Anfield
September 18, 2020

Goals: Mane 43′, Salah 78′, Keita 89′


Konate 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)

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)

The rotation of the defence continued which meant Ibrahima Konate was handed his Reds debut.

As suggested on Wednesday it seems he will be the rotation option with Joel Matip, who the club confirmed was rested today, while Joe Gomez looks set to be Virgil van Dijk‘s deputy.

There are fewer, if any, more imposing centre-back pairings than Konate and Van Dijk, and it looks like we may get to see this pairing at least a handful of times this season.

Konate showed his strength in a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian tumbled to the ground in the area in a moment which was more good defending than a penalty claim.

It was a similar outcome in a one-on-one battle with Christian Benteke, forcing a corner and giving the Belgian little space to work with.

There were rare uncertain moments, such as one error that saw him rushing back to cover against Zaha, but he showed he’s more than capable of catching quick attackers on the break — something he also demonstrated against Palace’s new signing and man of the moment, Odsonne Edouard, late in the game.

 

Full back rotation

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

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

The rotation of the full-backs revealed a little more of how Jurgen Klopp will make use of his squad this season.

It would have been difficult to have accommodated a new right-back as well as James Milner, and it was always likely the experienced Englishman would get his games at right-back given the midfield options when everyone is fit.

This then means backup is necessary on the left, and Kostas Tsimikas looks to have settled into Klopp’s system as a like-for-like backup for Robertson after a quiet first season with the club.

There was a scare early on when Zaha got ahead of Milner to an awkward ball, but Alisson saved any blushes by turning the ball onto the post.

Milner went on to do well against Zaha, though, using his experience with some textbook defending even with the obvious gulf in speed. On the other side, Tsimikas’ corners set up both goals.

They are obviously backup players and a level below Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, but they slotted in comfortably and played key parts in the win.

 

Take a chance

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

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

Liverpool created four ‘big chances’, per Opta’s definition of the term, in this game — the Mane and Salah two goals plus the Thiago header and Jota’s miss from five yards out.

They peppered the Palace goal with 25 shots in total with an impressive ten on target.

It could have been even more had they not been wasteful at times in the first half when they failed to take opportunities to create chances. Mane launching the ball straight to Vicente Guaita when Salah would have been through with a more simple, composed choice of pass, for example.

Naby Keita‘s wonderful left-footed strike made up for some of those earlier, easier missed chances though, and Liverpool won the game by the margin their dominance deserved.

 

Statto Mane

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates 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)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates 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)

Sadio Mane netted his 100th goal for the club, turning in the rebound after Guaita failed to hold a Salah header from Tsimikas’ corner. Mane is now the 18th player to reach 100 goals for Liverpool.

His first-half goal was also his ninth in successive appearances against Palace, and his tenth in total against this opposition.

It hadn’t been his best performance up until that point, but as was the case in the game against Leeds, the Senegalese is regularly in the right place at the right time, and that was the case for this goal.

 

On heavy rotation

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)

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)

Rotation seems to be a theme at the moment with Klopp using the players available to him in an attempt to manage workloads and prevent the type of injury crisis that occurred last season.

There’s likely to be even more new faces coming into the side for the next game, which is in the League Cup against Norwich on Tuesday.

There could be opportunities for some of the players who featured in the UEFA Youth League squad against AC Milan last week.

It’s also likely many of the players on the bench against Palace will get a run out. Those such as Caoimhin Kelleher, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Takumi Minamino and Nat Phillips.

Liverpool haven’t done well in the domestic cup competitions under Klopp, but these competitions remain a chance for squad players to get more games. They should be motivated enough to take it and help the club progress.

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