Liverpool breezed to a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace today that was incredibly routine. The only negative being a hamstring injury picked up by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who’d been very good up until that point.
Here’s five things that stood out from the win in Singapore:
1) Ibou Konate’s pace is otherworldly. It’s probably the reason he became the starting centre-back at the end of last season ahead of Joel Matip, actually.
In the first-half, Jean-Philippe Mateta had a head-start on our Frenchman in a race for the goal, but the ease with which Konate overtook him and regained possession made it look like the Crystal Palace striker was running in treacle.
Konate’s physicality is exceptional and alongside Virgil van Dijk, it allows us to play our high-line and squeeze the opposition. He’s also very composed and at 23-years-old, has a decade at the top left. What an investment for £35m.
2) Harvey Elliott can play in a range of positions. He likes the no.10 and he’s sometimes used on the right-wing when Mo Salah isn’t about, but today he was named on the right of the midfield three and it suited him perfectly. From here, he can actually move to the flank which allows the wing-forward to cut inside.
Harvey Elliott looking more sharp, and back to the standards he showed us on the beginning of last season before his injury. If he plays his cards right we could see him challenge for that starting midfield spot this season.
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) July 15, 2022
His linkup play is outstanding. The 19-year-old demands the ball and is happy to try clever flicks or first-time passes around the corner. Elliott has fun when he plays football and it’s clear to see. Last season threatened to be his real breakout campaign, but injury curtailed that. This time, he’s even more ready.
3) Jordan Henderson is a no.6, not a no.8. With the likes of Elliott and Naby Keita happy on the right-side of the midfield three, it might well be that Hendo’s best position now is at the base of midfield. He has to run less in this role and also has more time on the ball, which suits him. The skipper can dictate tempo from deeper and also won’t get caught in tight areas, in which his technique sometimes lets him down.
Of course, Fabinho is our first-choice anchorman, but the Brazilian has fitness issues and it would be a great show of squad strength if the pair shared the no.6 spot.
4) Darwin Nunez gets himself in terrific positions. Yes, his touch isn’t sharp yet, and you could actually see him getting frustrated today as he desperately tried to impress, but his natural offensive traits are terrific.
Gonna take some time for Núñez to learn our style and maybe more importantly for us to adapt to him too. Klopp is a mastermind at moulding players to his requirements, but it might take a couple months to see the best of him. Looking forward to it though! 🔴 pic.twitter.com/LVzJ2ERBBd
— Mick Moran (@Mick_Moran_) July 15, 2022
Nunez had two efforts on goal within four minutes of coming on. One he fluffed and the other the keeper saved well. Again though, he played very centrally and looked to run in behind. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Thiago looked for him immediately – it’s clear they like having the focal point.
It’s not been perfect by any means, but his start in Red is promising if you know what you’re looking at.
5) Mo Salah looked sharp as hell. New contract, new Mo. Or rather, the Mo that was dominating before he went to the AFCON. That mid-season tournament undeniably took it out of our best player in 2021/22, but this coming season will be the opposite, as he gets a mid-term break due to Egypt not qualifying for the World Cup.
👌🏼| Salah and Trent’s link-up! pic.twitter.com/hymWjqQpw3
— The Kopite (@_TheKopite) July 15, 2022
Today, he scored, but more importantly just looked full of energy. It was a friendly but he ran more than he did at the end of the last campaign. Klopp gave him a full 45 minutes, showing he’s already flying in terms of his fitness, too.
A fit, hungry and happy Salah is bad news for the rest of the Premier League.