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Against Palace Liverpool Showed They Could Win at a “Different” Sort of Game

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Grinding out results against low block sides isn’t something Liverpool have been known for—until, perhaps, now.

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Crystal Palace v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Liverpool dominated West Ham in week one and Crystal Palace in week two, but in very different ways. Their opening match against West Ham had Liverpool at their high-flying best, running over their opponents and scoring goals for fun.

Week two against Palace, on the other hand, saw them looking organised and, despite holding just a one-goal lead for much of the match, defensively inevitable. It’s not a look they’ve often shown, but James Milner says it was no fluke performance.

“That’s something we have to work on,” Milner told the club’s official website. “Winning all different types of games. We know that. And it was never going to be easy, [but] we know we can play better and control the game a bit more.”

Looking at the numbers afterwards, it’s clear Liverpool did that, not giving Palace a single clear cut chance and dominating by xG while looking surprisingly low key about it. It may not have been exciting, but it was effective against a side that didn’t open up.

And if Liverpool are going to challenge Manchester City for the title, it’s something they needed to prove they could do—they needed to prove they could play sensibly and grind out results against defensive, low block sides like Palace.

Milner, though, thinks there’s still room for Liverpool to develop that side of their game. The Palace performance was massively promising, but it’s just one match and just a start. Liverpool will need to do more and better in the coming weeks and months.

“I don’t think many people come here and have an easy night,” he added. “We thought we could play better but also we wanted to control the game. I don’t think we did that as well as we should have done, but it’s about getting the win and the clean sheet.

“We know with the players that we have got going forward if we keep those clean sheets then we’ve got every chance of nicking a goal at the other end.”