Only goal difference separates the three at the top of the table as Liverpool bagged four goals away to Crystal Palace to keep pace with the Premier League pace-setters — though the two unnecessary goals they gave up will do nothing to help their cause as they look to move ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal.
With their visitors doing all the work in the opening exchanges, it was only a matter of time before they opened the scoring with Alberto Moreno, making his second start of the season in place of the ill James Milner, setting up Emre Can for his first of the season. A moment of madness from Dejan Lovren saw the Croatian defender gift James McArthur *(not Gareth McAuley as orginally written for some reason!) the first of his two goals with a bad headed back-pass allowing the Eagles midfielder to loop a header over the stranded Loris Karius, but he’d atone for his mistake by getting on the end of Philippe Coutinho corner at the other end only moments later before being out-muscled by the Scotsman in the air as he added his second just past the half-hour mark.
Joel Matip ended a manic first-half by powering in another perfectly placed Coutinho corner to send the Reds into the break in the lead, but we’d have to wait for the 70th-minute for his compatriot in Roberto Firmino to truly end this one as a contest when the Brazilian found space and time courtesy of Jordan Henderson’s sumptuous through-ball en-route to chipping Palace ‘keeper Steve Mandanda.
Looking to emulate the approach of Burnley FC, and to a lesser extent that of Manchester United, in allowing the Reds to attack while looking to contain and hit quickly on the counter-attack, you’d have to guess that Alan Pardew’s side may not have a created a chance in the first half had it not been for the at times comical defending of their visitors. Though their approach changed after the break with Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha attempting to take the game to Liverpool, but they came up quite short with a penalty appeal for each waved away by the ref.
“We will sort the defense – what then happens, we will see. They can defend really well. I know after this game that everyone will talk about this,” said Klopp with a knowing smile. “I am happy with the reaction, not with the situation, not with the start of the game, that’s what we have to work on. But I am happy with the reaction. So, I am fine, we will work on it and then we will see where it leads us to.”
If the best defense is a good offense, then we’re on the right track; much like the meeting with West Bromwwich Albion last weekend and the mid-week outing against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup, this one should have been over as a contest much earlier than it was with Sadio Mane wasting a number of chances and Coutinho coming close to notching a rare header with Palace defender Joel Ward’s hand-ball going unnoticed as the ball flew towards an open net.
With that being said, the best defense isn’t always a good offense, but we’ve been living with this reality for a few years now. If nothing else, we play some entertaining football — a well oiled machine going forward and a sputtering, stalling, forever work in progress at the back. Now, since we’re joint top of the table playing like this, just imagine what we could do if we could keep a clean sheet now and again?