Match Review: Liverpool 0–1 Crystal Palace

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Match Review: Liverpool 0–1 Crystal Palace

In a week when a solar eclipse ran across North America, the team with the “Blue Moon” anthem had unexpectedly barged itself between the duo of Liverpool - Arsenal and the sunny destination of the Premier League title.

Defeats suffered by the Merseysiders and the Londoners had suddenly handed the initiative to Man City for the first time in 2024. The Mancunian club is now shadowing its rivals with its odds of winning the league having been significantly shortened at the bookies.

Although the title race is far from over, we currently have a worrying trend at Liverpool. Our players create numerous chances (21 against Palace on Sunday), more than enough to win any match but an ongoing lack of clinical finishing is seeing the Reds coming woefully short of victory.

We’ve seen that twice at Man Utd in the FA Cup and the league over the past month and now more of the same at home against Crystal Palace.

Moreover, the shell shock Europa League defeat against Atalanta in midweek is not helping at all when it comes to the confidence level in the squad.

So much so, it took only one week to severely curtail dreams of a treble which was intended as a fitting sending-off for Jurgen Klopp. The sight of dejected players in Red shirts after the final whistle conjured more an image of having just lost a cup final at Wembley.

In his post-match interview with Sky Sports, the German aptly summarized it as “feel really, really rubbish.”

Just wondering if that feeling is attenuated with Liverpool currently being 2 points behind the table toppers when it would have been 3 if Arsenal had won.

Or, on the other hand, is that feeling now more acute when considering the destiny of the EPL would have instead been back in our hands if we had been more clinical in finishing against Palace.

This season, we’ve seen the Mentality Monsters coming back numerous times, turning around deficits into victory. Doing so is not a guaranteed slam dunk but also entails an element of luck.

Against Palace, Liverpool looked to have finally run out of the rub of the green when launching themselves in such comebacks.

Where was the defence?

Not for the first time, the Reds had a slow start to this Sunday encounter and conceded first inside 15 minutes.

A totally unmarked Eberechi Eze prodded in a left cross from Tyrick Mitchell to send Anfield into a déjà-vu mode once more.

It could have been worse just 4 minutes later when Jean-Philippe Mateta latched on a slip of Virgil Van Dijk to lob the ball over Alisson Becker towards the empty net at the Kop end only for a quickly back tracking Andy Roberston to stunningly clear off the goal line.

This at long last prompted a wake-up call for the Merseysiders who finally started to come out of their shell.

On the 27th minute a Liverpool corner saw the ball bouncing around like in a pinball machine before Wataru Endo finally shot against the crossbar.

Two minutes later, a left cross from Robbo, the most energetic Liverpool player in this first half, was met with an acrobatic volley by Luis Diaz but he was denied by Dean Henderson.

The Palace keeper was also called into action seven minutes later, parrying a Mo Salah shot who was sent through by a long diagonal pass from Alexis Mac Allister.

Henderson’s counterpart also did not have a quiet first half, saving further attempts from Mateta and Michael Olise.

We tried, tried and tried

The second half would be more or less a repeat of the first in terms of attempts with Liverpool coming closer to scoring than their opponents.

On a 55th minute corner, a Darwin Nunez ferocious volley from point blank range was incredibly saved by Henderson’s knee.

Sub Diogo Jota is the type the player who can unlock such situation but his attempt on the 72nd from a Dominik Szoboszlai cutback was frustratingly blocked by former Reds Nathaniel Clyne.

At the other end of the pitch, Alisson Becker also made an incredible point blank save on the 74th to deny a Mateta shot from a couple of yards out during a corner.

One minute later, the game swung to the other end with the best chance to equalize for Liverpool who broke away with Curtis Jones going one-on-one against Henderson. Agonisingly the Scouser’s attempt blazed just wide, stunning the whole Anfield into disbelief.

It was indeed one of those frustrating days when it would just not go in for Liverpool. One minute in injury time saw Salah’s attempt to sweep in from 3-yards out being blocked by Tyrick Mitchell who in all fairness, did a good job in man-marking the Egyptian during this game.

Just like twice at Old Trafford over the past few weeks, Liverpool have themselves to blame for not achieving what they had set their sights on for those games.

It was another weekend of twist and turn in the English Premier League with Man City now in pole position. Having already gone through numerous dramas in this three-horse race, it will not be surprising if more of the unexpected springs up until the very end of this season.

Back in November 2015, Jurgen Klopp had his first defeat as Liverpool manager at Anfield against… Crystal Palace.

Things would therefore come in full circle if this Sunday against the same team would turn out to be his last loss as the Anfield gaffer.

Mike Chung.

Never forgotten: 97 victims of the Hillsborough disaster 35 years ago.