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Football News: Liverpool v Crystal Palace - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Crystal Palace - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Crystal Palace


Liverpool have reverted back to the slow, measured play of the early part of the season after the return of the injured players. The kids brought energy and enthusiasm, plus the bonus of a return to the high intensity 'heavy metal' football, that made watching Liverpool under Klopp such a pleasure, as that is the way they have been brought through playing. Unfortunately, as soon as the first teamers were fit, the kids were dropped straight back down to the U21s and replaced with the first teamers and the return of Pep Lijnders patented 'I can out-Pep Pep' methodology. It failed miserably last season when tried, but this season Klopp has doubled down on it and gone all in on the passing for passing's sake, no width and slow, boring football that Lijnders advocates. That this team is in contention at this stage of the season is a minor miracle, one which Klopp has contrived to almost throw away completely in the last few weeks. It amazes me that someone with Klopp's knowledge and experience in the game has listened to Lijnders, who showed in a spell as a head coach that he has absolutely no tactical clue whatsoever. Excellent coach that he is, Lijnders is not a tactical expert, he has no original ideas, even when taking the credit for all sorts of 'new' things introduced at Liverpool since his return, he admitted that all of them were simply copied from other clubs. You do not beat the richest club in the world by simply copying them, but that seems to be the current plan. It makes no sense when they can simply buy better players for that system.

The problem is that all the momentum has gone out of the season now too, which is going to make it extra difficult for the coaching staff to turn around with them all leaving in the summer. This is where the problem comes with Klopp announcing he was leaving so early in the season. Initially it creates a determination to win for him, but once that has gone there is little Klopp can really have to work with when it comes to pushing the players to do more in training and in matches. Now he is reliant completely on the good feeling that has undoubtedly built up between him and the playing staff - but that can only do so much. It can make the players run all day for him, but it can't make them suddenly turn poor tactics into brilliance. It is not going to magically move all the defenders out of the way so that all those shots in a crowded penalty area can be calmly aimed into the corners away from the keeper. It is such a shame to see the Klopp-era ending with a damp squib, after all the years of brilliance he brought, it is now on the players to change that for him and give him the send off he deserves. It might be too late to turn it around and win either trophy, but they can go out like a Klopp team, with heavy metal, exciting, attacking football using width and quick ball movement.


I have seen a lot of talk about how Palace played well and they have been given a huge amount of credit for the win, but I personally was not very impressed with them. Their two wide men, Eze and Olise, are lazy tracking back and are reminscent of Diaz - lots of flair and showy touches but little actual real effect. Their defence was all over the place and relied on getting bodies in the way of shots to keep Liverpool out, something which is not effective in the long term, but can pay off at times. They are a team that, based on that performance, Liverpool could, and should, have beaten. That is the most frustrating thing from a Liverpool point of view, this was not being well beaten by a good performance, but being well beaten by a poor team that did not even play to their own capabilities. Well, to be fair, Hughes played to his capability, but that capability is lower league journeyman level. It is players like Wharton who did not play at anything like the level they are capable of. Not even close. If Liverpool lose to teams like this, playing so poorly, then they do not deserve to win the league. As for Palace, they are where they are for a reason. Glasner has got his hands full turning them into anything other than a team that avoids the drop each season, but they do have a gem in Wharton to build around.


Quick notes on the players:


Alisson - almost the only player to come out of the game with any credit, making a save when it was needed, but did not really have a lot to do and so ended up getting further and further forward as the game wore on.

Bradley - was having a decent game before his injury, though he was not getting forward with his usual drive and energy. The ball was getting out to him too slowly (or inaccurately a lot of the time) to allow him to really maraud down the flank.

Konate - like all the rest of the team, he was too far off the opposition and got caught out at times not knowing whether to be out on the right or in the centre. The understanding at the back was just not there for this game, making it very easy for Palace to get at Liverpool if they wanted to.

van Dijk - needs to do more talking than he did in this game. His performances this season have mostly been back to his best, but he was poor in this one. Not just defensively, where he was standing off rather than making the challenge, but even his passing was off. Added to that, when the team was looking to him for leadership, there was little sign of it.

Robertson - he once again gave his all and was marauding down the left, as much as possible. However, just charging down the flank mindlessly was not enough, the link up and his delivery was not quite there. Defensively he was poor and caught out of position far too easily.

Endo - the wrong game for him, there was no need for a player who could mix it up as Palace were just sat in. He was the only player trying to close down though for long periods, but almost every pass into him was just playing him into trouble and putting him under pressure. For a less creative midfielder like Endo, that is just a recipe for disaster and he struggled to have a positive impact.

Mac Allister - for a while after Liverpool's form dipped, he was the one shining light in the team, but for some reason the last couple of games has seen his form desert him completely. This was a worse performance than the ones he was putting in during the early weeks of the season. He rarely played the ball forward, when he did he gave it away, but the most annoying thing was watching him stroll around for 90 minutes taking extra touches and passing it back and sideways casually like Liverpool were 5-0 up in a meaningless testimonial game. If anyone could be said to embody the Red's lacklustre, listless, limp performance, with its complete lack of urgency, it was Mac Allister.

Jones - struggled to get into the game, though he did show urgency at least, he was not able to impose himself at all. Missed the best chance Liverpool had, but even that was rushed as he lacked the pace to get away from the defenders when he broke through.

Diaz - he is great to watch but, for all his running around he accomplishes very little. He does not make runs in behind, nor does he attack the box. But, to be fair to him, the build up is so slow at the moment that there is little opportunity to do either.

Nunez - he is working hard and giving his all but it is just not happening for him. The team is not playing to his strengths and has failed to do so since buying him for most of the games. He needs the high press, the quick ball movement to get the best from him. He is getting caught offside because the ball is too slow in being released. Nunez is a player that is running around trying to apply the press but on his own, as everyone else is just dropping off and watching attacks develop. If the team returns to a high press, high intensity, fast-flowing attacking style, then he will be ideal. If it sticks to this slow, ponderous sideways ball movement, then he is wasted and will never prosper.

Salah - it was astonishing that he was not taken off. His performance was astonishingly bad, the worst I have seen from him. He was almost like an extra player for Palace, he was that poor. It is like he has forgotten how to play, his first touch has gone missing, his passing was wasteful and his finishing was utterly abysmal. Everyone is entitled to an off day, but Salah's season has gone from bad to worse as it has gone on. Age seems to have caught up with him.

Szoboszlai - brought on at half-time for Endo. Brought some drive and energy but nothing else. Even when he got the chance to take a shot, the entire defence was able to be in place to make it more difficult.

Alexander-Arnold - replaced the injured Bradley in the 48th minute. Immediately he came on he took up station in central midfield, removing all width on the right and making it easier for Palace to stay compact defensively. It showed as his passing became more and more desperate as the half went on, with him trying to force passes and make something happen.

Gakpo - took the place of Diaz on the left wing in the 66th minute. A bright spot in the game, he showed pace and ability, driving at their defence and causing them to actually adjust, bringing out players to double up on him.

Jota - came on for Nunez also in the 66th minute. Never got into the game at all. Flitted round the edges of the game but the team was not getting the ball into him enough.

Elliott - Jones went off so Elliott could come on in the 82nd minute. I do not understand why he is not getting a chance to start, his performances have deserved that, while few others in the Liverpool side can say the same. Maybe the problem is that he constantly plays with high intensity, the old Klopp-style, and seems to struggle to slow down and play the new, boring, measured approach.

Written by Tris Burke April 16 2024 07:15:39


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