Situated in the broadcasting gantry within Anfield’s main stand, Oliver Miller offers his view on Liverpool’s first home match of the season.
A second-half goal from Sadio Mane ensured Liverpool won their first home match of the Premier League season.
Mane’s goal in the 73rd minute came after Liverpool had dominated the play for much of the match but only really troubled Crystal Palace in fits and starts. The goal came from a mistake by Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic that allowed Mane to poke the ball home for a 1-0 victory.
The atmosphere at the beginning of the match was as good as usual for the first home game of the season – even BBC Match of the Day commentator Simon Brotherton couldn’t resist capturing the first You’ll Never Walk Alone of the season with a quick video from the commentary gantry. The excitement from the crowd at kick-off encouraged Liverpool to start the match at a high tempo with Milner and Matip both having good chances on goal within the first fifteen minutes.
However as the thirty-minute mark approached the game became quite slow and pedestrian – both sides conceded sloppy passes. The atmosphere within the stands soon became passive – a mood that was experienced quite often last season when Liverpool had a lot of possession but failed to really convert it into meaningful play.
The second half began with a Palace chance – who were attempting to win their fourth successive match at Anfield – Benteke blazed over the bar in which turned out to be their best chance. Crystal Palace – who were coming off the back of a 3-0 home defeat against Huddersfield in Frank de Boer’s first match as manager last week – offered fairly little in attack. Defensively they were ok but it was more down to the poor striking by Liverpool than a comprehensive defensive display from Palace that led to the game just having the one goal. For once Liverpool were guilty of spurring many decent opportunities in front of goal.
However, it was when Jurgen Klopp made two attacking changes – Salah and Solanke both came on for their home debuts to replace Sturridge and Wijnaldum respectively – that Liverpool managed to get past the Palace defence and score the only goal of the game. A one-two between Mane and Solanke appeared to have been dealt with by the Palace defence, only for the ball to roll kindly for Mane to poke past Hennessey.
Nerves did increase slightly in the final moments of the match as Palace had some possession around the Liverpool area but the home side managed to see off the men from Croydon – the first time they had done so in three seasons.
There was a sense of level-headedness and practicality around Anfield at the final whistle – not every game can involve scoring three or four – as many fans welcomed a fairly mundane 1 – 0 victory that brought about Liverpool’s first triumph in the league this season nd their first clean sheet.
There were five changes made by Jurgen Klopp from Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League game away in Germany during mid-week – three new signings made their debuts at Anfield. Solanke and Salah both came on as second-half substitutes but it was Andy Robertson, who started the game, that impressed the most.
Robertson attacked well on the left hand-side and linked up with James Milner in notable fashion. He also had the most touches of the ball (134) for Liverpool, which gives you the idea of how involved the Scot was on his home debut.
Also, Matip and Klavan – whilst not overly tested by the Palace attack – dealt with what they had to with relative ease.
Mignolet: 6, Milner: 7, Klavan: 6, Gomez: 5, Matip: 6, Robertson: 8, Henderson: 6, Wijnaldum: 6, Mane: 7, Sturridge: 6, Firmino: 5.
Substitutes: Salah 6, Solanke 6, Lovren 5.