CRYSTAL PALACE 1-3 LIVERPOOL : MATCH REVIEW
Liverpool came away from Selhurst Park with a hard fought 3-1 win over Vieira’s plucky Palace side yesterday. A fast start saw Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain give the Reds a 2-0 lead. The Eagles pulled one back second half and had chances to equalise before a late Fabinho penalty settled it. We review the game.
You can find player ratings from the match here:
° The lineup. It was the same lineup that took on Brentford last week, with Oxlade-Chamberlain recovering from an ankle issue to play on the right wing. Fabinho, Henderson and Jones started together in midfield for the third game running.
° Unbelievable 35. Liverpool played their best football of the season in the opening 35 minutes yesterday. They were simply incredible as they harried their opponents and won the ball back relentlessly whilst pinning them back into their own half with non-stop waves of attack.
It was beautiful to watch as they squeezed the life out of Palace, giving them no way out of the press. They racked up the attempts, with 7 in the opening 18 minutes. Palace didn’t attempt a single shot till after that intense opening half hour or so. Play like that and no opponent can live with Jürgen Klopp’s side.
° Robbo’s deliveries. Robertson notched two assists on the day as his deliveries were put on a plate for his teammates. Van Dijk nodded the first one in from a corner before Oxlade-Chamberlain chested one down at the far post before slamming a shot past Guaita. Up to 8 league assists now.
° Two in two for Ox. Oxlade-Chamberlain has justified the decision to play him on the right wing. He’s been preferred to Minamino and has proven just why. His pace helps stretch the play down that side and his intelligent movement has seen him sneak in at the backpost to score in the last two games.
° Switching off right before halftime. In the final five minutes of the half, the Reds became sloppy. First it was a suicidal Matip pass across the defence that was pounced upon by Olise. Not long after that, it was Firmino’s turn to give away possession cheaply, with Olise again profiting and playing a pass in behind for Mateta.
° Alisson MOTM performance. Alisson stopped both attempts, saving Olise’s shot with his feet before getting an important touch on Mateta’s shot to divert it away from goal after the striker tried to go round him. That was a sign of things to come in the second half.
° Dozy restart. Liverpool came out for the second half and immediately gave up two gilt edged chances. First, Matip pushed all the way to the right wing in an attempt to win a ball. Having failed to do so, Palace countered and Olise crossed for Gallagher who failed to get enough connection on his header a few yards from goal.
Barely a minute later they carved through our defence again, with Edouard’s clever backheel attempt being smothered by Alisson. Two quick warnings from Palace after Vieira had switched to a 4-4-2 system at halftime. The Reds failed to heed it and soon paid the price.
° Palace get back in the game. Ten minutes after the restart, Palace pulled one back. Matip’s weak header fell to Schlupp who played a fine pass in behind for Mateta. Van Dijk had no idea where his man was as he was stepping up to play Edouard offside.
It was too easy for Palace. That one pass from Schlupp cut through the entire defence like knife through butter and not even Alisson could bail us out this time as Mateta simply rolled the ball to Edouard for a tap in. They were back in it and their fans got right behind them.
° Loss of control. The game had gotten absolutely wild second half with no semblance of control from the men in white. Nobody seemed able to slow things down and just keep the ball, as turnover after turnover fed the Palace belief and the raucous atmosphere. There’s a serious conversation to be had about our midfield.
° Hanging on for dear life. Palace kept coming at 2-1, with Andersen shooting just wide of the bottom corner after Jota gave away possession. The pressure was cranked all the way up and Alisson had to be alert to prevent a Robertson own goal as the left back got too much on a header back to his keeper.
° Key moment of the game. The key moment of the game was a period of two minutes from 84-86. It went from possibly being 2-2 to possibly going 3-1. Another long ball in behind our high line saw Olise through on goal and his attempted lob looked to be going in, only for Alisson to show excellent footwork to get back and claw it away.
A minute later, Trent pinged a beautiful long ball to put Jota in behind the Palace defence. Jota chose not to chest it down, instead letting the ball bounce. Guaita came out and there was a collision, with Jota appealing for a penalty. A lengthy VAR check ensued.
° Pen or no pen? In the heat of the moment I swore it was a pen. Guaita got nowhere near the ball and took the man out. Bottom line definition of a pen. In the cold light of day however, I’ve watched the replays back and it looked like Jota turned into the keeper after his poor touch knocked the ball away from goal.
They do say these decisions even out over the course of a season. If that’s the case, then this makes up for the blatant shove on Jota away at Spurs that saw penalty appeals waved away. Fabinho tucked the penalty away to a chorus of boos from the home side.
° Gritty win. You need all kinds of wins if you have designs of putting together a long winning run. This win was a hard fought one, a ‘dirty three points’ as Klopp likes to call it. The Reds were tired after midweek exertions, missing key players and up against a tricky side cheered on by a baying crowd.
Seeing the win over the line is all that matters. Palace had a higher xG (1.80) as compared to Liverpool (1.39), creating more big chances (3) than we managed (2). Alisson Becker basically won us these points. That’s what world class goalkeepers do. It reminds me of Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Brentford earlier in the season.
° Gap down to 9. We’re now 9 points behind Manchester City and with a game in hand at home to Leeds United. We’re handily placed as it stands, a far cry from a week or so ago when it seemed we were light-years away. With a trip to the Etihad still to come, could we see the title race rekindled?
° What’s next? A well earned winter break, although Alisson, Fabinho and Minamino will all be away on international duty. The break allows the Reds to get a breather, it also allows the likes of Elliott, Thiago and Origi to step up their return to the side. AFCON is already into the knockout stages too so we could see our African trio back soon.