Liverpool have look of champions
Defensive blunders a worry, but Klopp's side are on title pace
CRYSTAL PALACE 2
(James McArthur 18, 33)
(Emre Can 16, Dejan Lovren 21, Joel Matip 44, Roberto Firmino 71)
Who cares about the odd defensive blunder when you can attack with such mesmerizing verve and versatility?
The buzzword when teams are on song is momentum and Liverpool currently have it in abundance.
No self-respecting Liverpool fan will talk about the title coming to Anfield for the first time since 1990, given all the disappointments and shattered expectations over the years.
But the more the season progresses, the more the signs look good that the Reds could be crowned champions of the English Premier League for the first time since it was established in 1992.
The 4-2 win at Crystal Palace yesterday morning (Singapore time) provided the latest indication that Juergen Klopp's exciting team have the tools to go all the way.
Not until their last game of this year do Liverpool face any of their title rivals, suggesting they will be more than capable of maintaining their excellent form in the next few weeks.
More significantly, Klopp's team have the luxury of concentrating on domestic matters without the rigours of European football to sap their energy.
Ideally, they'd love to be in the Champions League rubbing shoulders with the big boys.
But there is a downside to competing on all fronts as many a side have discovered to their cost.
"Liverpool have got so many options and they play with a freedom," said their former midfielder Danny Murphy, now a highly articulate media pundit.
"They stretch teams and their attackers all chip in and are difficult to contain. The number of chances they create is because of the energy they have. The one thing that needs to improve is the defence."
Klopp knows that better than anyone, especially when watching his side defend set-pieces when they look at their most vulnerable.
Liverpool and cleansheets are rare bedfellows and Dejan Lovren's hashed clearance that briefly allowed Palace back into the game was a case in point.
But, when you can overpower opponents with such a strong pressing game and technical fluency, you can get away with being susceptible to errors.
More often than not, that is.
Palace paid the penalty for giving the visitors too much respect and too much space, yet, even then victory was not certain until Roberto Firmino, played in by captain Jordan Henderson, chipped a gorgeous ball over Steve Mandanda for Liverpool's fourth.
Palace manager Alan Pardew argued his team could have been awarded a penalty for either of two challenges on Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke in quick succession.
But, apart from the first 20 minutes of the second half, Liverpool were metres sharper.
They are a delight to watch and the fact that Daniel Sturridge is not even guaranteed a first-team start says everything about the depth at Klopp's disposal and the style he employs, a style that only works - especially off the ball - when you have confident, strong-running players who can buy into the system.
None more so, on current form, than Philippe Coutinho.
In the past the Brazilian maestro has been accused of flitting in and out of matches.
But, in the current campaign, few midfielders have been threading perfectly weighted passes through panicky defences with such regularity.
A couple of stats to finish up.
The Palace win marked the eighth time Liverpool have scored four goals or more in 2016.
They have now managed 79 in the league since Klopp took charge - more than any other team in the competition.
The finished article?
Not quite, given the all-too-regular defensive lapses.
But they are certainly ahead of schedule and building something that could ultimately prove very special.
It's fluent, exciting and they have some terrific, top-quality players. Yes, they will let in goals and concede chances but what is football about if it's not entertainment? Liverpool are genuine title contenders. Make no mistake about it. And they're also great fun.
- The Liverpool Echo
The number of chances they create, because of the energy they have, and as I said they do stretch teams. They remind me of the Newcastle team 20 odd years ago they were just superb going forward. Keegan with (Keith) Gillespie, (David) Ginola, (Peter) Beardsley, (Les) Ferdinand and (Faustino) Asprilla with the number of chances created."
- Alan Shearer
#LFC on the counter attack are a problem for anyone in the league right now. Willing, athletic runners with desire. Orchestrated by Couthino.
- Rio Ferdinand on Twitter
Make no mistake, Liverpool are players in this title race. Big players.
- The Daily Mail
I'm still cautious. I don't think anybody should get carried away. There's still so many teams which are capable of winning the league, all of the 'big six' have a chance.
- Former Liverpool captain, Phil Thompson