With the unusual manner in which he was deployed early in his Liverpool career, and because of a few unfortunate knocks that have sidelined him for spells, midfielder Emre Can sometimes still seems like a recent addition to the squad. He has in fact been around for two full seasons now, and is starting to make his presence felt again in his third Premier League campaign. Not surprising then, that Can has developed a pretty accurate appreciation for the varied threats posed by the opposition Liverpool face each year, echoing the sentiments of his captain.
“We knew before the game it would be a very tough game. It’s always difficult to play at Crystal Palace, but we did very well in the first half. The second half was not too good. But you have to win these kinds of games – we did it and we’re very happy.”
It’s been expressed more than a few times since Jürgen Klopp took over, but “these” kinds of games are precisely the ones in which Liverpool have contrived to drop points in the past. For long portions of yesterday, it seemed as though the contest with Crystal Palace might yet fall into that category, with Alan Pardew’s side somehow able to twice claw themselves back from deficits despite being noticeably second best.
Good thing then, that Can was able to support the cause in a see-saw battle, opening the scoring with a deflected shot at the business end of a mesmerizing team effort. It was the midfielder’s first goal since scoring at Aston Villa in February, and Can appears to be keenly aware that putting the ball in the back of the net is a key element that’s expected of him. Said Can: “I’m very happy that I scored a goal because in the last few games I had chances and didn’t score. I’m very happy that I scored after such a long time.”
With Can’s strong showing and with Gini Wijnaldum seemingly fully recovered from injury, Klopp may have the level of competition for starting spots that he likes to see. Can’s performances have sometimes had an element of Jekyll and Hyde about them, but with a number of fixtures coming up against opponents in the lower half of the league table, we may have an opportunity to see Can take the great strides forward that many have hoped to witness.