Crystal Palace fell to Liverpool in their first game at Selhurst Park this season, however the performance shouldn’t have concerned veteran manager Roy Hodgson.
The Reds edged ahead through a first half penalty after Mamadou Sakho, who was otherwise excellent, hauled Mohamed Salah to the floor. Sadio Mane clinched the points deep in injury time as Palace were caught out on the counter, having committed numbers in hopes of launching a final attack.
For Liverpool it is the perfect start – two wins, six goals and none conceded, and Jurgen Klopp hailed his side’s ability to win the ‘ugly’ way. The Reds have struggled defensively for what seems like a generation, but Virgil van Dijk is swiftly suggesting that he is the man to solve Liverpool’s most plaguing problem.
As for Crystal Palace, they are at a polar opposite to this time last season when they were in the midst of the Premier League’s most dreadful start to a league campaign. Frank de Boer was sacked after four matches, and eventually Roy Hodgson was able to steady the ship and rejuvenate the south Londoners.
Their fierce competition with a title-chasing club like Liverpool will provide confidence and momentum, and the opening day win against Fulham serves as a reminder that Palace have improved drastically from last term.
Here are three reasons the Eagles should be optimistic, despite suffering their first defeat of the season.
1. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is an exciting prospect
Don’t read too much into young Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card – it is a mere fly in the ointment as the fledgling full back takes his first, healthy strides as a Crystal Palace first team regular.
His eye-catching display at Craven Cottage ensured Hodgson trusted him with one of the most difficult tasks in football, as he was pitted against the explosive Sadio Mane.
And perhaps even more praiseworthy than simply being put in the starting lineup was the way Wan-Bissaka handled the Senegalese winger. Mane struggled to find space on the left flank, and even when he did, Wan-Bissaka somehow managed to nick in with a crucial tackle.
Catching the rapid Mohamed Salah on the counter attack proved one step too far for the 20-year-old. Still, it seemed, Wan-Bissaka was only inches from catching up with the Egyptian and a clumsy challenge – which can be ironed out with experience – earned him his marching orders shortly before the end.
But his ovation as he trudged off the field and several pats-on-the-back from teammates who are far more aware of his stunning progress than we are, indicate that the Premier League is partly shielded from a talent who could become one of Crystal Palace’s leading lights this term.
His mature di…