By Nathan Brennan – @NathanBrennan___
Liverpool continued their impressive start to their season on Monday with a 0-2 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, thanks to a penalty from the evergreen James Milner and a late finish from in-form Sadio Mané.
It is a ground notorious within the memories of fellow Liverpool fans, but it seemed a different story tonight than on *that* night as the Reds’ looked to make their first legitimate statement of the season as to whether or not they are capable of challenging Manchester City for the title.
Here are some of the main talking points from the game:
Terrific Trent tames Wilf to help dispel theories that he struggles to defend against pace
I thought the decision to start Trent Alexander-Arnold was a no-brainer, but despite his poor end product going forward against West Ham in the opening weekend, it seemed this trend would continue against Palace as many crosses went out or over the heads of the forwards, just like they did at the London Stadium.
Despite his poor crossing, I thought the teenager handled Wilfried Zaha pretty well in the first-half of the game, but seemed to struggle more in the second-half.
The Reds certainly didn’t help his case by constantly allowing the Ivorian to take on Trent 1v1 with no-one providing effective back-up alongside the 19-year-old English full back.
Gomez produces sequel to stunning opening-day show
Today was a different Joe Gomez, and we saw a side to him that we hadn’t even seen when he first burst onto the scene in 2015/16 – he showed composure, leadership and saved us many-a-time with a last ditch tackle, including a particularly important one on the aforementioned Zaha.
Had he missed his challenge he would have scored, had he fouled the Palace man he would have been sent-off, but he timed it to perfection and helped preserve a second clean sheet of the two-game-old season.
I think personally this partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Gomez could blossom into one of the most dominating defensive partnerships we’ve ever seen at Liverpool. I said when he came from Charlton that he looked like he could become the new Rio Ferdinand, and as the days go by I begin to think more and more that I was right about that prediction.
Gomez was my Man of The Match today, easily. His pace was crucial as well as his timing in his tackles.
No wishes granted by Gini
After an impressive pre-season and a breeze of a first game for Georginio WIjnaldum, you’d have expected him to have grabbed this second start in a row with both hands, but this was sadly not the case.
He didn’t just have a ‘bad game’ or an ‘off day’, he showed no desire to even sprint about the pitch. A prime example of this laziness was when Townsend smashed the crossbar in the first-half as Gini gave him plenty of space to shoot without seeming to have any worry about closing him down.
It seemed the Dutchman was just a dud occupying space last night – I hope to see Fabinho start in the next game at home against Brighton instead.
A first for “all-round terrible” Firmino
The game against Palace was probably the first time under Klopp where I can say that Roberto Firmino had a genuinely all-round terrible game.
He usually either scores or assists and if he isn’t doing that he would make up for it in work rate and defensive duties, but tonight he seemed to lack any of that.
It may be something for Klopp to think about going into the weekend game against Brighton – does he stick with Firmino or go with the resurgent Daniel Sturridge for the next game?
Impact on title chances
If I’m honest, I still think that City will win the Premier League easily. Their squad is still miles ahead of ours or any other team in the league and I just think they’ll have no problems retaining the title like most clubs who win the league usually do.
I hope I am wrong and tonight certainly does provide positive signs, but it’s still far too early to say that all of the Reds’ problems have been addressed. A good start to the season – long may it continue.