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anfield rising Palace victory may have flattered Liverpool but Klopp's men are firmly back on the front foot

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Liverpool's Naby Keita (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's third goal

Liverpool's Naby Keita (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's third goal

Liverpool's Naby Keita (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's third goal

ANFIELD witnessed a game so similar to many played at the famous stadium in 2021 yesterday – but there are a few big reasons why the results are now turning in Liverpool favour.

Jurgen Klopp’s men didn’t deserve to win a competitive match against Crystal Palace 3-0, as the opposition deserved more from a match that was evenly contested for long periods.

Yet there is a sense that Liverpool are in a very ­different place than they were in the opening months of this calendar year, as some key ingredients are now back in the mix.

I was at Anfield to watch a fourth successive Liverpool home win at the start of this season, yet this was a game that was very much in the balance against a Palace side that showed real ambition.

They have been given a lift since Patrick Vieira took over as their new manager and they gave a jaded Liverpool team plenty to think about.

After a fantastic Champions League game against AC Milan on Wednesday night, this game was always dangerous for ­Liverpool – and you could sense that Klopp realised as much with the team he picked.

Ibrahima Konate was given a debut at centre-back, James ­Milner was used in a full-back role, as he didn’t want to give Andy Robertson too much of a workload as he comes back from injury and Trent Alexander-Arnold was missing due to illness.

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores his side's second goal

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores his side's second goal

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores his side's second goal

In total, there were six changes to the team that beat AC Milan and while the final scoreline might give the impression it was a comfortable win, it was ­anything but that.

Alisson Becker was forced to pull off some fantastic saves, Virgil van Dijk showed great leadership at the back and ­James Milner turned in a committed performance once again.

Milner is one of those professionals every successful team needs, as he doesn’t play every game and always performs when he is called upon.

His work-rate in exceptional and whether he is playing in midfield or defence, Klopp can rely on him to deliver and he did that again yesterday.

I was also impressed by Kostas Tsimikas on the other side of the Liverpool defence and he has won me over after a shaky start to his spell at the club.

The Greek full-back is a threat going forward and, while he might have got away with a rash challenge that could have resulted in a penalty for Palace in the first half, he was good again in Robertson’s absence.

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Then we had solid displays from Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in midfield, as they laid the foundation for the forward players to work their magic and win the game.

Last season, that final piece of the jigsaw was missing for Liverpool as Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino suffered dips in form, but they are firing the goals in once again now.

Mane’s 100th goal for the club gave Liverpool a half-time lead and it could have been more as Jota had missed an absolute sitter before that.

Then the start of the second half saw Palace have a real push for an equaliser and the flow of the game reminded me of what we saw last season when Liverpool somehow lost six home games in a row.

Palace could sense that ­Liverpool were tired and the extra energy they had in their legs after having a full week to prepare for this game gave them some real hope.

The problem was though that they just couldn’t apply the finishing touch to the clear-cut chances they created, with ­Liverpool showing a more clinical touch when opportunities came their way.

Mo Salah’s 99th Premier League goal for Liverpool gave Klopp’s side the cushion they needed and the late goal for Naby Keita will be good for his confidence.

News that Manchester City had unexpectedly dropped two points after a 0-0 draw against Southampton at their Etihad Stadium made this a great day for Liverpool.

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Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara receives treatment after picking up an injury

Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara receives treatment after picking up an injury

Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara receives treatment after picking up an injury

That result at the Etihad Stadium also served to highlight how tough it can be to bounce back from a tiring Champions League game and perform at your best the following Saturday.

I always used to believe that you should pick your best team every week as that is the way football worked in my time as a player.

Yet the game has evolved in recent years and Klopp’s decision to make changes to his team are justified by the result he got out of this game.

I always feel the presence of spectators helps Liverpool to get over the winning line.

Empty stands at Anfield made it a very strange place to play football and when Klopp’s side were looking for inspiration, it was lacking last season.

The atmosphere yesterday didn’t compare to a European night under the lights, but the supporters gave Liverpool the lift they needed when they were struggling to find the second goal and it was a massive help as they found a way to get over the line.

Yesterday’s results mean ­Liverpool are top of the table after five games and they have a handy three-point cushion over Manchester City.

It also confirms that the ­winning Liverpool machine from a couple of years ago might just get back into gear this season.

I said throughout their alarming dip in form in January and ­February of this year that the tide could turn for Liverpool when they get their injured players back and, crucially, have the fans back inside Anfield.

While they will need to play ­better than they did against ­Palace to win the Premier League title again, it feels like they are on the front foot once again.

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