Liverpool have been quietly telling us who they are all season. The 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace was the season so far in a nutshell. Liverpool weren’t great for stretches of the match, lost their way a bit, but ultimately found a way to dominate the game in the end. They’ve been showing us who they are and today, during a 3pm kickoff, I think they made the statement loud and clear.
The 3pm kickoff thing is really important. Of course, everyone in the world can watch this game because of the streaming partnerships that the Premier League has. Except people in the UK. So this performance was just for the Liverpool fans at Anfield. It was intimate and the Kop was in full voice. We rightfully talk about how special European nights are at Anfield, and we got one of those nights this week against AC Milan, but what makes this whole thing truly special is how the atmosphere is unchanged for an afternoon kickoff for a league match against Crystal Palace.
The atmosphere was rewarded with a performance to remind us how incredible this team is. You know, things have gotten kind of hazy during the last 18 months. Reality has been strange and brutal during the pandemic. Football continued but it wasn’t quite the same, especially for Liverpool.
It’s okay to forget sometimes in life. Or maybe it’s not forgetting but becoming too familiar. The smile from a lover, the twinkle in their eyes. A hug from a dear friend. It can remind us of the love we have. It draws us back in and reminds us of what’s real.
We needed to be reminded how good this team is and Liverpool delivered a classic performance. Just for us.
Let’s dig in on just how good Liverpool were today.
Winners and Losers
There’s been so much chatter about how Sadio Mane isn’t what he used to be. Well, I’m here to tell you I still see the same Mane that we’ve always seen. In the past 6 matches for club and country, Mane has 5 goals. Today he scored his 100th goal for Liverpool. That’s something only 18 players have ever done. Oh, he also loves playing against Palace. Today’s goal was the 9th straight he’s scored in against them. That’s a Premier League record. No other player has done that.
So, yeah. Sadio is still Sadio.
Shots, Shots, Shots and Set Pieces
Liverpool put up 25 shots today, which means they’ve taken 20 or more shots in all but one match this season. The one match they didn’t do that was when they took 19 shots against Norwich City in the season opener. It seems like the plan Jurgen Klopp has in place for this season is clear: shoot on sight. Keep firing, assholes.
Another part of the plan seems to be goals from set pieces. All 3 goals today came from set pieces. Only Burnley have 3 goals from set pieces all season. Teams that finish mid to lower table are going to foul a lot and concede a lot of corners to Liverpool. Being able to score goals from these opportunities is a very, very huge advantage.
Liverpool made six changes to their starting lineup between the Milan game and today. That included an entirely different backline. Ibrahima Konaté made his debut today alongside Virgil van Dijk. Kosta Tsmikas put in another great performance deputizing for Andy Robertson. James Milner needed to fill in at RB because Trent Alexander-Arnold fell ill. Even a substitute scored a goal. This team is much, much deeper than some fans think it is.
Thiago played really, really well today but around the 60th minute he came up limping and grabbing his calf muscle. The prognosis is unknown at this moment but hopefully the midfielder isn’t sidelined for too long.
What Happens Next
We’re in the thick of it now. Liverpool sit top of the league as they have two more league matches before the next international break. In between those matches, however, are two matches of every different importance. On Tuesday Liverpool have to play Norwich City in the EFL Cup. One would imagine both teams will rotate heavily in that match because both have other priorities. After that is another 3-match week as Liverpool have to play Brentford, Porto, and Manchester City in one week.
It’s serious business and this is a very serious football team. Buckle up. We’re along for the ride.