-Lovren & Sakho : have Liverpool found the correct partnership at last?
It may be ridiculous to suggest that Liverpool have found the long awaited solution to their defensive problems based on the performance of one match, albeit one that was no doubt a stern test with the Reds having to come back from a goal down with ten men and faced with opponents armed with physically testing players. While the fact remained that Liverpool didn’t manage to keep a clean sheet once again, what was seen of the defensive partnership between Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho today was nothing less than impressively solid. The defensive duo managed to hold back Palace’s attackers, something the Reds have more often than not struggled at, for most of the game, matching Palace’s physicality in attack with their strength in defense. It was rightfully deserved that Lovren was at the end of the game voted as man of the match, with his stellar match stats showing that he had made a total of 81 touches, 58 passes of which 83% of it found its target, 10 clearances and 5 tackles over the course of the 90 (plus 5) minutes.
Not too long ago the Croatian had one of the worst of starts to his Liverpool career after his £20million switch from Southampton with his often calamitous performances drawing much flak from fans and opposition fans alike while Sakho on the other hand wasn’t even a regular starter under ex-boss Brendan Rodgers. Despite their respective struggled starts to their Anfield careers, it now seems that they may after all be Liverpool’s new defensive heart for the long run, with Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel both into their thirties already, and the pair looking well-settled into the side alongside each other, and most importantly full of passion in the red shirt.
-Are Liverpool better without Milner?
The Liverpool vice-captain has always been lauded for his tireless work rate and most importantly being one of the more experienced heads in the side who always carries himself with utmost professionalism. No doubt that I am impressed with the way Milner has slotted into this Liverpool side almost seamlessly after arriving on a free transfer from Manchester City, being widely seen as the ultimate professional that every manager would love to have on the field. However today at Crystal Palace we were given a look of how a Liverpool side who be without the ever present Milner. Strangely enough, Liverpool seemed a more potent force after being reduced to ten men, and the midfield moved faster, eventually leading to two goals that sealed a comeback win for the Reds. The ultimate professional he sure is, but sadly the Englishman is not exactly known for his pace or his ability to conjure up a moment of magic to save his team in a times of need.
-Benteke: Match winner or expensive benchwarmer?
I am glad the big Belgian proved to be the one to calmly step up with the winner at the end, at the same time bringing to an end his own run of 715 goalless minutes in all competitions. But the big man remains a major question mark in Liverpool’s attack. It is no doubt that Benteke is a proven goal scorer in the Premier League and he is often a man unfazed by pressure in big games, as seen when he almost single handedly supplied the goals that enabled his former club Aston Villa to avoid relegation last season. A look over to Aston Villa will show how much they are missing their former striker, with Remi Garde’s side struggling for goals rooted to the bottom of the table. However, over here at Liverpool Benteke who came with a hefty price tag has more often than not been benched in recent months, and even when he does get a start, he has seemingly struggled to fit into the way of play that Klopp has mapped out for his team. It has become a continuous discussion among fans: to bench him and use him as a ‘Plan B’ when Liverpool need some direct play to salvage a game will seem too much of a waste for someone the Reds shelled out over £30million for but then to start him could have the adverse effect of hampering the Reds’ playing style under Klopp. It is great to see Benteke come off the bench to contribute what could be a crucial three points to our league campaign today, but if this is indeed the role the Belgian will have to be playing (coming off the bench as an impact sub), then he could be better off elsewhere where the style of play may be more to his suiting.