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Football News: Liverpool v Crystal Palace - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Crystal Palace - A Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v Crystal Palace A Liverpool Perspective

 

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I have seen a lot of talk about how the result flattered Liverpool and it was much closer than that, but I disagree completely. I think it should have been a much bigger win, it was simply that an unfamiliar backline made a number of mistakes that allowed Palace chances, rather than anything they did particularly well. In fact, it was quite the opposite I thought, as the ball kept ending up at the sulkiest player in English football, Zaha, who was given an absolute lesson by Milner. Though I have no doubt he will fail to heed it, as he has never shown any signs of improving his game beyond the extremely average but ridiculously overrated level it has been since he first appeared.

What I saw was one team that was packed with better players beat a team with lesser players, though I do not disagree they were made to work hard for it. However, hard work should be a given in every game, so being made to work hard for a win should not be seen as anything special. At times Liverpool were exceptional, though the level did drop off a bit after Thiago went off injured. Keita just is not the same level, despite his wonderful finish, at controlling the play and his positional play defensively is much weaker than Thiago's and it allowed Palace to get back into it for a bit.

However, it was not enough, in my opinion, to suggest that the result was anything other than fully deserved. Once Konate and van Dijk have some time to gel together as a pair, I would expect a game like this to be much more routine, as that for me was the biggest issue. Especially when paired with back-up full-backs, in Milner's case the back-ups back-up, you have to expect some mistakes from a new partnership. You could see the uncertainty in a lot of the positioning and it was affecting Alisson too at times. That is something that can only be improved by more games together. The key thing is that they did enough as a group to keep a clean sheet.

 


Crystal Palace

 

I have to say Palace disappointed me, they started off well, pressing high, but quickly tailed off as Liverpool took control of the game and, while they had a fair amount of chances, they never really created much. Most of them were coming through mistakes by the Liverpool backline due to indecision caused by a lack of familiarity. Vieira made a huge error in starting with Benteke, who never looked like impacting, let alone scoring, when Edouard had shown so much more last week. They looked to have much more threat with the Frenchman up front, after he came on, but it is hard to understand why Palace did not start with him.

The other issue for me is their widemen, neither of them have enough of an end product for me. Ayew grafts and both have ability but they run down blind alleys, try to do too much and neither deliver quality balls into the box often enough. When you have a player like Benteke up front, you are only going to get anything out of him with good, early balls into the box, something they simply do not provide.

Added to that, tactically Palace were poor, their midfield and front three narrowed off immediately they lost the ball and gave up the wide areas to Liverpool. That allowed Liverpool good possession in dangerous areas, leading to corners, which are a real threat with Tsimikas delivering them into good areas. It was a very strange tactic by Vieira to leave the flanks so unguarded, when Liverpool do look to attack down the flanks in the main, and that was what cost them the game. In fact it was not strange, it was stupid in my opinion, when you do not have a close-packed deep-lying defence in depth to protect the penalty area.

Palace do have one reason to complain, they probably should have had a penalty, I would say 9 times out of 10 that is given as one. Whether it would have changed the result or not is a difficult thing to say, but it would certainly have given them a lift, if they had converted it. I just wish we could understand why these kind of decisions are sometimes given and sometimes not.

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - took a big risk changing the backline completely like that from the team in midweek, though his hand was forced to a degree. Against a better team than Palace, the uncertainty in the backline would have cost Liverpool, but it paid off for Klopp in this match. I do believe he made one mistake though, for me I think Jones should have been on before Keita. He has a much better work ethic than Keita and is much better at controlling the play, which is what Thiago provides. However it worked out really well, so no complaints really!

 

Alisson - once again back to his best, in one-on-ones he looks almost unbeatable and his distribution is a thing of beauty when the opportunity presents itself. There were moments of indecision between him and the centre-backs, but that is something I am sure will be ironed out in time if Konate and van Dijk play as a pairing.

 

Milner - hard to believe he only stepped in at the last-minute after Alexander-Arnold took sick in the morning of the game! Milner is Mr. Reliable, he steps in anywhere on the pitch and does the job like he has been playing there every week. He showed Zaha up badly, despite the fact Zaha should have had the pace to cause him problems.

 

Konate - it was clear there was no instinctive understanding with van Dijk and he is still in need of time to learn his role in a back four, but there were some good signs. Unlike many players who are trying to impress and not having the best of days, he stayed calm and did not do anything rash. When under pressure against an attacker, he stood up and forced them to need to do something to beat him, usually leaving Konate to get a block on the ball. I am sure he will have better games once he settles in.

 

van Dijk - suffered a bit with, unusually for him, indecisiveness. Van Dijk was not his usual imperious commanding self. Yet he still did enough, along with the rest of the defence, to keep a clean sheet. Once he and Konate work up an understanding, they could be formidable, with Konate having the same willingness to stand up toe-to-toe with an attacker. That was all that was wrong with van Dijk for me in this game, they just need to develop their partnership.

 

Tsimikas - once again the Greek-Scouser looks excellent going forward, worked extremely hard but had the odd dodgy moment defensively. Those odd moments are more than made up for by his delivery, which is exceptional. His corners are particularly good and usually result in a chance at the very least.

 

Thiago - he controlled the game for large portions of it, right up until he went off with an injury. He is fast becoming a key player in the midfield, especially in games like this where Liverpool are ball dominant for long periods.

 

Fabinho - what can you say about the Brazilian? He is just brilliant, not just at breaking up play, but also for what he can provide on the ball. He is such a huge part of every clean sheet with the protection he affords the defence.

 

Henderson - it is such a shame it took many people so long to recognise just how good a player Henderson is. For years he has been the target of so much abuse, all of it ignorant and that fails to recognise that he is one of the best in his role. Henderson's one main failing has always been his lack of goals, for a player with his ability that is something he could do with rectifying this season.

 

Mane - as usual he got a goal against Palace, to set a new record for most consecutive games scored in against one opponent, with his 100th Liverpool goal also making it 9 consecutive games he has scored against the Eagles. Mane was excellent and is showing signs of coming back to his breathtaking best, with the smile back too.

 

Salah - the best player on the pitch by a distance, even though there were a few other excellent performances. Salah right now is on a whole new level to even his own previous best. If this form continues, he must be in the running for Ballon d'Or.

 

Jota - his form is beginning to worry me, his clinical finishing was making up for his poor play outside of the box, but now his finishing is letting him down too.

 

Keita - replaced an injured Thiago in the 62nd minute. He came on and finally did what he was brought in to do - drive forward and provide goals. Not just that beauty from the edge of the box, but earlier on he had also taken a shot on when the chance came upon him. Far too often in the past he would have looked to play a pass when it was open for the shot, so it was good to see him look to score. But he has to realise that this is just the beginning.

 

Jones - came on in place of Jota in the 76th minute. Jones makes things happen, he may not be everyone's favourite, in fact he seems to be the latest target of those looking for a scapegoat, but Jones almost always affects a game. He came on and helped the team wrestle back the initiative they had lost for a few minutes after Thiago went off.

 

Origi - took Henderson's spot on 88 minutes. Barely had time for much, other than to be serenaded by the Kop.

 

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Written by Tris Burke September 20 2021 01:49:55

 

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