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Football News: Liverpool Quick Match Reviews - Crystal Palace And Napoli

Liverpool Quick Match Reviews - Crystal Palace And Napoli
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Crystal Palace v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective

 

This was not the best performance, particularly in the first half, where it was a real struggle to get going. Palace did what they do best, they stifled and kept Liverpool from breaking into their stride and opening the game up. They very nearly did more than that, though the chance they did net was ruled out after VAR spotted a clear push on Lovren. Not sure why that was so controversial, we were told all last season that VAR was to stop all the pushing and pulling in the box and now the pundits are whining because it did pick up on a push. It is tiresome. They got exactly what they wanted and now they have decided they do not like VAR so they are looking for every single excuse to criticise it, even when it is right. As Roy Hodgson said, it was the correct decision, just like it was when the pundits applauded it for writing off a goal by Arsenal against Palace for the same reason.

The second half was much better, Liverpool controlled it, in the main, and pulled off the win they needed, though it was still not pretty. However Klopp was able to rest Salah for the Champions League, so that makes the result even better and it was always the only thing that mattered.

Overall it was a difficult game against a well-drilled side, though I did find it ridiculous how the commentators and pundits clearly have not watched Liverpool play recently and so talked of tactical tweaks to cover off Zaha which did not exist. The right-sided midfielder of the three in the middle has always come across to help Trent, not because Zaha and van Aanholt present a particular threat, but because it allows the right-sided forward to stay further forward. Usually that is Salah and means LFC can use his pace on the break. It is not a deliberate switch, it is the way the team has been playing all season long. It is so frustrating to hear these morons in the media spout their inane drivel, when they clearly are working as pundits because they know nothing. It is like they deliberately pick the biggest idiots they can find to work as pundits.

The best thing about that result is it was achieved without Salah, allowing him to rest his ankle problem and prepare for the rest of the season, where he will be needed to be back to his best if the title is to be won. While the team may not have been able to perform at its best without him, it still got the result it needed and gave Oxlade-Chamberlain some much-needed minutes to get back to his best.

 


Liverpool v Napoli

 

Even though Salah was back, it was not a good performance, with the team missing Alexander-Arnold badly this time. Gomez can seem like a safe option, because defensively he seems more solid, but it is quite the opposite. His lack of ability to create in the way Alexander-Arnold does invites pressure and increases pressure on the backline as he offers little attacking threat. That is even at his best, which he was far from against Napoli. In fact he was extremely poor, showing no awareness at all and being completely indecisive on the ball. Mentally he was sloppy and looked like a player who has not played enough recently.

It was not just him that was sloppy at times, it was just Gomez was the worst example, though it was Robertson and Lovren that lacked awareness on the Napoli goal. When van Dijk was fouled and went to ground, neither Robertson nor Lovren noticed until too late. Yes it was a foul, a clear foul, but you play to the whistle and deal with the danger then worry about complaining. Robertson was too busy watching the ball and trying to press to spot what was going on, while Lovren was watching Lozano and again not aware of what was going on. Both Robertson and Lovren should have dropped off and the danger would have been averted quickly.

I have to say I was disappointed in the way van Dijk went down so easily. Yes Mertens did foul him, but it should not have been enough to make him go down like that. A big powerhouse like van Dijk needs to be stronger in moments like that, he should be bullying Mertens, not allowing the little Belgian to bully him so easily.

The other thing that stood out for me was the atmosphere, it seemed like the Champions League is starting to take a back seat to the Premier League and the atmosphere suffered as a result. It is understandable, this season the fans so want the Prem, everything else seems a little less important and so it is difficult to get as excited. The other games, whether it be League Cup, Champions League or Club World Cup, none of them really matter, it is all about finally breaking that 30 years of failing to win the league title.

With that in mind, seeing Fabinho injured is a huge worry, he has still never featured in a league defeat and not having him available could be costly. Quite simply he has taken the team up a step with his quality in the holding midfield role. There is no one else in the squad that can perform the role anything like as well as he can. Players that can fill in for a couple of games, yes, but not for a long period.

As for the game itself, Liverpool again looked out of sorts and struggled to really create much without Alexander-Arnold. The commentators claimed Ancelotti had done a tactical number on Klopp but I saw no evidence of that personally. It was Klopp that done a number on Klopp by not going with Alexander-Arnold from the start. When he made the switch to take off Gomez and put Henderson there, the improvement was vast, simply because there was decent delivery from those areas and attacking intent. That was the difference between a routine win and the difficult draw the game ended up being.

The team lacks balance without the two full-backs both playing and that lack of attacking drive at right-back makes it difficult to build up pressure and momentum in games. Gomez has the potential to be an exceptional centre-back, but he is never going to be an attacking full-back and playing him there just exposes the weaknesses in his game. Fine to put him out there to learn from his errors in games against weak opposition, such as early round cup games, but not in the Champions League against a team that have a lot to prove.

That is something people forget, they talk of Napoli being in crisis and a revolt by the playing staff, but forget that actually the manager was backing them and it was just an argument with the owner. They feel he was being harsh to punish them after a few bad results and they now have to prove him wrong by getting results. They are not really in crisis, they have extra motivation if anything. They want to be able to say to de Laurentiis that he was wrong and that they were right. It does look likely to turn into a problem, as the owner is not known for his ability to deal with issues in a calm and constructive manner, but that is for the future and is unlikely to affect Liverpool in any way.

A disappointing night, a disappointing result but it leaves Liverpool in prime position to qualify for the next round, which is the important thing. Plus it was good to see Lovren get a goal, so not really as bad a night as it probably feels to most Liverpool supporters. Now is just time to keep our fingers crossed and hope Fabinho is back to full fitness quickly.

Written by Tris Burke November 28 2019 11:27:50

 

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