Liverpool got off to winning ways at Anfield in the Premier League after leaving it late to see off Crystal Palace 1-0.
After dominating possession and dictating much of the play throughout, the Reds got a fortuitous winner in the 73rd minute through star man Sadio Mane. Palace showed significant improvement from last week’s annihilation to Huddersfield with a performance of solidarity and dignity, but ultimately couldn’t prevent suffering back-to-back defeats in Frank de Boer’s opening games in charge.
Liverpool were not at their best all afternoon but Palace sat back and allowed them to have much of the ball. Going back to traditional routes, de Boer tinkered with his tactical approach admirably and was unfortunate to come away from the game empty-handed. As poor and lifeless as Palace were with the ball at times, they still created a huge opportunity which Christian Benteke should have tucked away. Early on the second half, star performer Ruben Loftus-Cheek got the better of the Liverpool defence down the right before squaring to Benteke to fire over from 10 yards. Jason Puncheon tested the palms of Simon Mignolet in a first-half counter-attack, but Palace rarely offered enough quality going forward.
The winner from Mane came about rather unfortunately for Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic, who miscontrolled the ball on the edge of the area before it ricocheted off him back into the path of the Liverpool forward for an easy finish. The Reds will feel it was justly deserved on the balance of play, but Palace will be encouraged with their overall defensive performance as a team.
It remains unclear how many players de Boer will be able to bring in before next week’s transfer deadline, but one thing is for sure: he needs attacking reinforcements. All of Palace’s efforts have been concentrated on defensive additions, with a goalkeeper, centre-back and right-back still needed. Yet, the squad is extremely thin and unconvincing in attack. Players may have to leave, but hopefully we hear some good news regarding Munir, Burke, Vietto etc. COYP!