Konate given crash course

Clean sheet. Three points. Job done.

But don’t be fooled into thinking Ibrahima Konate’s Premier League initiation was sedate and straightforward.

Instead, the £36million summer signing was given a crash course in what he can expect from English football having finally been given his Liverpool bow by Jurgen Klopp.

Alongside the reassuring presence of Virgil van Dijk – the Dutchman making his 100th Premier League outing for Liverpool – there were some understandable early moments of uncertainty as he settled among an entirely new-look Reds defence.

The real test, though, came in coping with a Palace attack containing the pace of Wilfried Zaha, the strength of Christian Benteke and the exuberance of substitute Odsonne Edouard.

Konate was involved in a one-on-one situation with all three, and just about emerged on top.

Early on, the centre-back was simply too strong for Zaha in battling for a loose ball inside the area, appeals for a penalty rightly waved away.

Konate then had to pursue the marauding Benteke and stood strong before getting a foot on the eventual shot and block for a corner.

And in the second half, it was Edouard with whom the new boy had to contend, unable to get a tackle in but gaining enough of a deflection on the close-range shot to help the excellent Alisson Becker make a save.

Konate will continue to find his feet. But he’ll know not every game will be as difficult as this one.

Thiago deserves better

There’s becoming an increasing danger some things just aren’t meant to be for Liverpool.

Just ask Thiago Alcantara.

For an hour against a combative Crystal Palace, the Spaniard was an impressive performer in a midfield that had attained almost mythical status among Reds supporters.

Even Jurgen Klopp was taken by surprise when informed on Friday the triumvirate of Thiago, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson had started in the engine room just once before.

That was the infamous 2-2 draw at Everton almost 12 months previous where Thiago was on the receiving end of a red-card challenge from Richarlison and subsequently sidelined for several months, after which injuries elsewhere meant the trio couldn’t be selected again.

So there was intrigue when they featured together against Palace, Henderson captaining Liverpool for the 200th time.

As at Goodison, it worked well, Fabinho mopping up and initiating attacks, Henderson all energy and thrust and Thiago floating with intent, pulling Palace this way and that with his passing and not averse to sticking the boot in, if sometimes rather clumsily.

A shame, then, that his afternoon was cut short by a calf problem Klopp is hopeful won’t be too serious.

Certainly, the Reds boss won’t want to wait too long before he can field again what is arguably his first-choice midfield.

Full-backs make difference

It wasn’t quite a step into the unknown for Liverpool.

But it was certainly a position they haven’t found themselves in for quite some time.

Not since the trip to Burnley in December 2018 had the Reds gone into a Premier League without Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the starting line-up.

You have to go back to November 2017 and the visit of Chelsea for when Anfield last saw the pair absent for a top-flight fixture.

With Robertson rested and Alexander-Arnold ill, Kostas Tsimikas and the ever-willing James Milner filled their respective positions.

Both had an impact, Milner revelling in putting himself about – only referee Andy Madley knows how the veteran escaped a booking – while the set-piece delivery of Tsimikas led to Liverpool’s first two goals.

With Naby Keita’s magnificent third also coming from a corner, Liverpool now have 16 Premier League goals from such dead-ball situations since the start of last season – more than any other club.

Few if any full-back pairings can match the creativity of the Reds’ first-choice pairing.

But with Klopp later insisting rotation will become the norm, he’ll be encouraged the supporting cast are capable of adding their own contribution.