4th November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
Having just scored his first goal for Liverpool in eight months, it was little wonder Emre Can was in such a positive mood when speaking after his team's 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace.

"I'm very happy that I scored a goal because in the last few games I had chances and didn't score. I'm very happy that I scored after such a long time," he mused.

"We knew before the game it would be a very tough game. It's always difficult to play at Crystal Palace, but we did very well in the first half. The second half was not too good. But you have to win these kinds of games we did it and we're very happy."

For Can, who suffered an untimely ankle injury in August, his well taken goal was fine reward for all his persistence and patience. Whilst he was out of action, the 22-year-old would've wondered whether he'd ever break back into Jurgen Klopp's side, such was their excellent form that included wins over Leicester City and Chelsea during his spell on the sidelines.

When speaking to Liverpool's official website in mid October, his words on his situation made for insightful reading. "I am a very, very bad watcher!" he told Liverpoolfc.com.

"Of course I'm always happy when my team wins, but it's always different when you play. I have to work hard. I have to get fitness back. If I get game time which is always different to training I have to work hard on my game and get confidence again.

"For me, it has been a little bit unlucky so far this season because I came back a little bit late and had a very short break after the Euros. Then I came back and got an injury. The team did very well and then I came back and it was not easy to get back into the team.

"Now I have to continue the work, I have to work hard. And I am confident enough that if I am ready and fit, I will play one day."

To his credit, since returning from injury around a month ago, Can's made the most of his opportunities by putting in some encouraging showings against the likes of Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and most recently against Palace.

To focus specifically on his performance against Alan Pardew's men, and Klopp's decision to pick the more physically powerful Can ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum worked wonders. Not only did Can's strength and aggression in the middle of the pitch see him thrive in duels with the Eagles' combative midfield, but his technical qualities and tactical acuity served as additional reasons why Klopp would've felt justified for his choice to start his countryman.

Deployed in his new home on the left side of central midfield, the former Bayer Leverkusen utility's movement was undoubtedly the highlight of his 90 minutes afield.

To start with, when his side were passing out from the back, Can mixed things up really well. On occasions he'd drop deep and form a double pivot alongside Jordan Henderson, which afforded Loris Karius and the Reds' centre backs extra nearby options to use. In addition, though, he'd regularly push upfield to around the half way line and guarantee his opponent, usually Yohan Cabaye, would mark him, which cleverly allowed Liverpool's left centre-back, Dejan Lovren, to bring the ball forward unimpeded.

When the Merseysiders progressed beyond their first phase of possession, his promising understanding with left winger Philippe Coutinho provided some incisive attacking moments for his side. With Can given plenty of freedom to push forward and make runs in behind the defence, take up positions in between the lines or move into the left half spaces, Coutinho would crucially counterbalance Can's movement by dropping deep into his colleagues vacated central midfield area. In such instances, these subtle interchanges combined to disorient Palace's marking setup, thus making life very challenging for them to pick who to mark.

In combination with the aforementioned, the way Can ventured into positions that were on his opponents' blind side, away from easy detection, saw him continually manage to gain separation from his markers throughout the contest.

Once in possession, he moved the ball forward through his tidy distribution and his powerful dribbling ability, while also showcasing his excellent first touch and manoeuvrability in tight. The fact Klopp instructs his players to heavily populate central areas when his troops are attacking crucially meant he had numerous passing options available to him at any give time too.

By the numbers, the bulky 184cm midfielder's four won aerial duels, two shots, one key pass, three tackles and three clearances punctuated what a well rounded shift he put in. Indeed, Can certainly put his best foot forward in his search to nail down a starting spot within Klopp's high flying side.

With Liverpool currently sitting atop the Premier League table, level on points with Manchester City and Arsenal, Can will be desperate to make sure he's a permanent fixture in this wildly exciting Reds team both in the short and the long term. And the best way for him to do just that will be by keeping up his splendid form.

After already missing a chunk of this season, Can knows staying healthy and remaining injury free will be paramount if he's to achieve his goals. After all, he's had enough watching from the sidelines, for he's a man who loves nothing more than being out there and experiencing the action first hand.

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