Joel Embiid Should be Considered an MVP Candidate
It is only January and a lot of people are talking about either James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the MVP, but what about Joel Embiid?
Liverpool made it six points out of six to start the season with a hard fought 2-0 over a scrappy Crystal Palace side that was reduced to ten men following defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka's sending off.
Selhurst park has not been the friendliest venue for the traveling Reds, with echoes from their 3-3 draw that cost them the league title back in 2014 still very much alive. However the Reds responded with a largely professional performance to secure all three points.
James Milner gave Liverpool the lead from the spot just before half-time after former Red Mamadou Sakho tripped over Mo Salah inside the box. Sadio Mané then rounded off the victory with a goal deep into stoppage off a devastating counterattack.
Here are five observations on Liverpool's second consecutive victory.
Many scoffed at the £75M fee Liverpool paid to secure the services of Virgil Van Dijk last January. Fast forward eight months later and there is little who doubt the quality and leadership Van Dijk has brought into the Liverpool defence.
Since Van Dijk's arrival, Liverpool have conceded the fewest goals and kept the most clean sheets in the league, an absolutely far cry from the once fragile back-line that was so heavily criticized.
The impact the Dutchman so often displays for the Reds was on full display against Palace as he worked in tandem with Joe Gomez to nullify any potential threats. Particularly against danger-men Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke.
Already a key figure for Liverpool last season, Van Dijk's impact will be even greater this year as he has now had a full preseason under his belt and a solid understanding with his understudy Gomez.
An absolutely colossal performance from the Dutchman.
All eyes were once again on Liverpool's Brazilian goalkeeper in what would prove to be a rather busy evening for Alisson. A stark contrast from the opener against West Ham in which he was a mere spectator, Alisson had to make several saves against a resolute Palace team that fought until the end.
Tested considerably by the likes of Zaha and Luka Milivojevic, Alisson was assured throughout the match and inspired an air of confidence to the defence and Liverpool supporters alike.
His distribution was also top-class as he managed to start many Liverpool counter attacks off the long ball, proving to be another outlet in which the Reds can get their offense going.
It's early days but Alisson has proved to be worth every bit of that £62M fee Liverpool paid for him.
Liverpool's Senegalese star has hit the ground running in this early season, undoubtedly proving the most deadly out of the Reds' potent attacking trio so far.
All game he proved to be a problem for the Palace defence with his deadly pace and skill on and off the ball. Mané looked the most likely to score as his movement and speed were unmatched throughout.
Eventually Mane's hard work paid off as he managed to get himself on the scoresheet with a very well-taken goal off a counter attack that sealed the three points for Liverpool.
That makes it three goals in two league games for Mané and 11 in his last 18 appearances dating back to last year.
While much has been made about the Senegalese's inconsistent form last year, Mané has been Liverpool's main man to start this year with the likes of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino shaking off some rust.
The hallmark of title winning sides is managing to grind out results when you're not at your best. Today, Liverpool displayed that kind of mentality in a hostile environment against a very tough side.
These were the kind of games Liverpool would eventually falter in the past but today they looked solid throughout 90 minutes, building up patiently and sniffing out any potential threats at the back.
The game management on display was absolutely superb as well. Past Liverpool sides would still go all out even when up 1-0, leaving themselves exposed for a potential equalizer or worse. This time around, the side looked composed and waited for the ideal moment to strike.
Again, early days but more positive signs for Jürgen Klopp's men.
Liverpool fans could not have asked for a better start to the year. Two games, two wins, six scored and zero conceded whilst trailing first placed Manchester City only on goal difference.
The signs are good but it's far too early to be complacent. Tougher tests definitely await but this Palace game proved to be a measuring stick for Jürgen Klopp's men in this early season. Proving that these Reds can indeed dig deep for a result when the situation deems it.
While the league is definitely not won nor lost on August, Liverpool's first two wins can give them belief that they can achieve something special this year, albeit by taking things one game at a time.
On to the next.