30 min: Chance for Salah! Alexander-Arnold finds himself in the middle of the field, where he turns away from Schlupp and performs a delicious pass over the defense of the Palace. Salah meets him running, 10 yards from goal, but heads straight for Guaita. It was another good chance and a ridiculous ball from Alexander-Arnold. He and Elliott have looked very bright for Liverpool.
28 minutes “Liverpool had nine attempts in 24 minutes,” said Richard Hirst. “Does Knowledge know the file?”
Is that my new nickname? I guess I’ve had worse.
27 minutes Clyne knocks the ball off Elliott’s toes in the area. It’s all Liverpool, as it always has been. According to the official Premier League website, Liverpool had 77% possession.
24 minutes van Dijk has a pop at 30 yards. It is well struck but not framed.
24 minutes “It’s 0-1 (Robertson OG, 86′) everywhere,” laments Matt Dony.
23 min: Chance for Salah! Alexander-Arnold receives the ball in the right space. He takes a touch and sends a brilliant low pass to Salah, who opens his body and shoots a few meters from the near post. It wasn’t the easiest chance, but he should have worked Guaita.
22 minutes Salah launches Alexander-Arnold, whose dart from the edge of the box is blocked by Guehi.
21 minutes Alexander-Arnold’s deep cross is pushed back on goal by Robertson, under pressure from Clyne, but Ayew gets in front of Nunez to kick the ball in.
20 mins Palace have calmed things down a bit, even if the match remains very one-sided.
18 minutes Eze goes one-on-one before being denied by Alisson, even though deep down everyone knew he was offside. The flag went up as soon as Alisson made the save.
17 minutes Robertson makes a great run down the field, on a long pass from Milner, and has a shot blocked by Ward. Diaz collects the loose ball and eventually makes room for a shot that also hits Ward before spinning into Guaita’s arms.
15 minutes Nunez runs into space down the right, on a long pass from Phillips, and blasts a well-held low cross from Guaita.
13 minutes Palace are already having fun on goal kicks, prompting some boos from the home crowd.
10 minutes Palace can’t get out of their third, let alone their half.
9 min: Two chances for Liverpool! Elliott danced past a few defenders at the edge of the area and fired a low shot that could have gone in if not for Andersen’s excellent block in the penalty area. Moments later, Nunez volleyed from a tight angle at the far post.
6 minutes Palace’s 5-4-1 formation already appears to be turning into a 9-0-1. I don’t think Palace fans would appreciate the juxtaposition of 9 and 0 in a game at Anfield.
5 minutes Liverpool are off to a good start. Salah swings away from Mitchell on the right and returns the ball to Elliott, whose shot from the edge of the box is blocked by Andersen.
3 minutes “Matip and Konaté are injured, and Gomez is still getting back into shape?!” sniffles Peter Oh. “It’s not good news for the Liverpool defence. Luckily Klopp was able to find a Phillips screwdriver, uh, in the toolbox to try and counter the Palace attack.
2 minutes Milner caught Guaita in his follow-up after slicing that shot over the bar – I think it hit his shin – and there’s a break in play as Guaita receives treatment.
1 min: luck for Milner! The old man almost gives Liverpool the lead after 55 seconds. Alexander-Arnold’s dangerous cross was pushed back by Guaita, under pressure from Nunez. Milner pinched the loose ball from Ayew, just outside the penalty area, then slapped a left-footed shot over the bar.
1 minute Peeppeep! Palace launches the game.
Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match interview
Players walk around the pitch, all wearing their gamefaces. It looks a bit gloomy on Merseyside, with something called “rain” in the air.
“Nunez looks very good so farsays Brendan Large. “Is this the new top three for Liverpool?”
“I have a bad feeling about it (from a Liverpool point of view),” says Niall Mullen. “And, looking at the other suitors, it looks like if the Reds don’t issue a challenge, we might just send the Premier League trophy to the Etihad before the end of August.”
I expected Liverpool to get off to a terribly quick start, like they did the last time they lost the title to City on the last day of the previous season. I still think they will, despite the minor fiasco last week. They will win 12-0 next Monday, we already know that.
Patrick Vieira’s pre-match thoughts
Thirty years ago today, the Premier League has started. For rich and poor alike, it has dominated our lives ever since. The most famous images are everywhere these days, so our photo editors went for something a little more quirky. And they found rare pearls.
“I’m in your old playground of that over there in London and I hope to avoid walking into a Palace supporters pub while wearing my dual King Kenny/Ken Dodd tribute gear,” says Ian Copestake. “The best thing is to have a tickle stick to defuse any liveliness.
Patrick Vieira starts without a recognized centre-forward tonight. But he may soon have a new toy to play with.
Some interesting selections on both sides. Jurgen Klopp left out Jordan Henderson, with Harvey Elliott and James Milner favored in midfield. Nat Phillips, who has played so many games in 2020-21, starts at centre-back. Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate are injured, while Joe Gomez is just fit enough for the bench. And the signing of the record, Darwin Nunez, starts in front.
It looks like Patrick Vieira has moved up to five backs, with Joel Ward replacing Odsonne Edouard. It’s the only change from the Palace side that lost to Arsenal ten days ago.
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, van Dijk, Robertson; Elliott, Fabinho, Milner; Salah, Nunez, Diaz.
Replacements: Adrian, Gomez, Tsimikas, Bajcetic, van den Berg, Keita, Henderson, Carvalho, Clark.
Crystal Palace (possible 5-4-1) Guaita; Clyne, Ward, Andersen, Gehi, Mitchell; Ayew, Doucoure, Schlupp, Eze; Zaha.
Replacements: Johnstone, Richards, Milivojevic, Olise, Hughes, Ebiowei, Plange, Mateta, Edouard.
Arbitrator Paul Tierney.
The device computer can be a sick twist, okay. Crystal Palace, who are aiming to build on a fine first season under Patrick Vieira, had the toughest start of any Premier League side: an opener against New Arsenal last week, then Liverpool tonight and Manchester City at the end of August. Of course, they also have a winnable game at home to Villa on Saturday, but can we please not dwell on that. I’m trying to sell a narrative here!
The thing is, no one is giving Palace much of a chance tonight. If you like betting, you can get 16/1 on a Palace win and 6/1 on a draw. Since brazenly winning three games in a row at Anfield between 2015 and 2017, Palace have lost ten in a row, home and away, to Liverpool.
This game looked great even before Liverpool started the season with a sloppy and slow 2-2 draw at Fulham. Such performance has consequences. Liverpool players have spent nine days listening to people who doubt their commitment to another season of heavy metal football. The backlash begins to 8 p.m.