Liverpool 3-1 Palace
Crystal Palace slipped to their fourth consecutive Premier League defeat at Anfield as Suarez and Sturrdige continued their exceptional form, both scoring in the opening seventeen minutes to put any thoughts of an upset to bed. The newly dubbed “SAS” were irresistible at times and, with all due respect to Delaney and Mariappa, would have ripped apart much better defences than that of Ian Holloway’s men.
After a bright opening from the away team which saw Cameron Jerome glance a header just wide of Mignolet’s goal it was Suarez who opened the scoring with Liverpool’s first meaningful attack of the game. The Uruguayan, making his first appearance back at Anfield since he attempted to bite a chunk out of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm, cut in from the left but had looked to have overdone it after skipping past one defender. He lost his footing yet managed to readjust during his fall and hook the ball past Speroni.
Minutes later it was Sturridge in down the left where he turned Delaney inside out before smashing low and hard into the far bottom corner past a poorly positioned Julian Speroni. The floodgates were expected to open by the near 45,000 in attendance, what actually followed was a response from the away team that has been somewhat unseen this season thus far.
"Chances must be taken in the Premier League and Palace were then punished for failing to find the net"
Kebe and Puncheon both should have scored before a Jerome cross was almost sliced into his own net by Sakho. Alas, chances must be taken in the Premier League and Palace were then punished for failing to find the net as yet another soft penalty was awarded against the Eagles. Sterling ran past Moxey who made minimal contact with his arm outside of the box. Sterling threw himself like Superman into the box and the linesman just could not wait to award a penalty, that Gerrard duly converted and effectively ended the match as a spectacle. I make that 2 soft penalties and 1 non penalty given against us so far this season. One for Spurs, one for Manchester United and one for Liverpool... the big teams don’t get the decision you say?
Holloway made two changes at half time, replacing Jerome and Kebe with Gaye and Campaña, and later replaced Chamakh with Bolasie, and it was the three subs that combined to see Palace score after their first goal since O’Keefe’s beauty against Sunderland. Bolasie teased Sterling with a lovely piece of skill and drew a foul down the left hand side of the penalty area. Campaña then whipped in a glorious cross from the resulting free kick for Dwight Gayle to net his second goal of the season with a deft header into the far corner.
A late fight back did not materialise but an air of respectability to the score line and a second half victory was achieved giving Palace some positives to take into the long international break.
Too Much Respect
Now when Suarez and Sturridge are in this kind of form, backed by what I thought was an exceptional Victor Moses, we are going to struggle. There is just not much we can do about that. What we can do, however, is get the basics right. In this case I am talking about the simplicity of closing down. At times Steve Gerrard might as well have been Doctor Who for the amount of time he seemed to have on the ball. Stuart O’Keefe, Jason Puncheon and Cameron Jerome never even attempted to get anywhere near him. To allow one of the best passers of the football in the English game over the past fifteen years unlimited time on the ball is just unforgivable and is inevitably going to end badly.
"Steve Gerrard might as well have been Doctor Who for the amount of time he semed to have on the ball"
It is easier than ever now to get close to Gerrard so there is no excuse not to. The only reason that I can come up with for not getting close to him is fear. We need to stop showing these players so much respect. We are in the Premier League on merit and thus should behave as such. Shake the small team mentality lads and get stuck in.
Classy Campaña has to Start
With the introduction of the classy Jose Campaña the fear factor went out of the window. The Spaniard got right into the thick of the things and as a result we were able to prevent Liverpool from getting into their stride in the second half.
Campaña had 45 touches of the ball in the 45 minutes that he was on the pitch. If we project this over 90 minutes he would have had 90 touches in the game. 23 more than Puncheon and 24 more than Jedinak. This want to get on the ball coupled with the ability to move up field in possession is key to starting the counter attacks that are essential to our away from Selhurst Park game plan. Campaña must start from now on if we are going to have any chance of competing in a midfield battle.
"Possession is key in the Premier League and as it stands we just do not have enough of it."
Without selection restrictions through injury we need to be looking at a centre midfield of Jedinak, Campaña and Williams. There is undoubtedly a benefit to having KG and Jedinak as pairing as they are very good at breaking up play. However, they cannot break up play 100% of the time for the whole ninety minutes. With Campaña and Williams on the field we would claim much more possession, making constant defence unnecessary. On top of that, both Campaña and Williams are willing to close down and are no mugs in the tackle. Possession is key in the Premier League and as it stands we just do not have enough of it. Campaña and Joniesta will help us in this department.
Jedinak, Campaña and Williams are the only three midfielders that we have with Premiership class in my opinion and the more time the three of them spend on the field together the better we will fair.
From the classy Campaña to the classLESS Daniel Sturridge. What on earth was he doing eyeballing the Palace fans whilst celebrating his goal? He had been getting no abuse whatsoever and he is scoring against a team that he can only believe is going to be relegated, a team that he has no history with and for a team that has just, effectively, ended the game as a competitive one. So why the provocation?
You’re a talented footballer Daniel Sturridge and you could end up being a big player for your country. Stay classy in the Premier League and you could earn yourself a lot of fans. Be a dick and people will only want you to fail.
At long last we have some width. At points in the first half both Puncheon and Kebe got wide on a couple of occasions and we nearly scored on each trip down the flank. Then with the introduction of Yala we had some natural width and this helped to create or first goal in, what seems like, an age. Width was what got us promoted and it is what we know. It was refreshing to see it back in our game, a game that saw us have 11 shots on goal, only 2 less than Liverpool and 2 more than the average amount of shots that Liverpool give up per game. Like Shakira once (almost) said, “Stats Don’t Lie”.
Man of the Match: Damien Delaney
It was a tossup between Delaney and Jedinak. Jedinak was very good in the middle of the park, however, on the grounds that Delaney was not fully fit and had to deal with Sturridge and Suarez I give him the award. Sure Sturridge skinned him for his goal, however, he go the striker very close to the by-line with his good positional play in a very difficult position and his goalkeeper should have helped him out with a save.
On top of this, Delaney made 14 clearances in the game, 1 more than the rest of the back four combined, throw in 4 interceptions and 2 blocked shots and you have a pretty good showing from the Irishman under the circumstances.
Atmosphere: Smoke Bombs Rage Again
Some people may think that I have been a little harsh with my 7/10 rating but I just think that we could have been a lot more cohesive. There was a definite left and right side split and rarely were the two sides singing the same song.
The wit was there yet again:
“This is your first trip to Anfield” at the embarrassingly silent fans to our right... apparently the Kop sang in response to this “This is your last trip to Anfield.” Did anyone else hear that? I sure didn’t.
“We’re gonna win 4-3” harked back to the FA Cup Semi Final. Never ever had I seen a setup for the opposition fans. I stood and waited for “We’re gonna win 9-0” from the home fans but it never came. This would be understandable for most clubs in the Premier League these days as anything that happened before the Premier League started doesn’t seem to count in most of their minds. Liverpool fans, however, only talk about what happened before the Premier League started as it was the last time that they were any good. So a poor showing from them.
“We’re Crystal Palace! We out sang the Kop”
“We’re Crystal Palace! We out sang the Kop” was greeted just as every other song was, with sheer silence. Never have I heard Anfield so quiet in the past. You’d think that it was us sitting top and them sitting in the relegation zone based on crowd boisterousness.
As for the smoke bombs, I have made my opinion clear before. I love them but appreciate that they are like Marmite. Apparently someone suffered an asthma attack which is unfortunate. Meanwhile, Liverpool fans raved about how good we were all over social networking and talked about loving the smoke bombs. I think that there is a place for them but they need to be embraced by the authorities so that they can be used as safely as possible to avoid things such as asthma attacks etc...
What did they say on Match of the Day?
Nothing. Literally nothing about Crystal Palace. It would appear that they have even given up on slagging us off!
For the fourth game running Terence (talking about myself in the third person is awkward!) was successful with a tip; Sturridge and Suarez both to score at 11/5.
Nick continues to struggle with his Palace tips yet continues to clean up outside of Palace games so maybe a change in fortunes is just around the corner for him
Up Next: Fulham
In my opinion this will be only the third game of the season in which we should be looking to pick up points, after Sunderland (W) and Stoke (L). I will not be judging our ability to stay up based on performances against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Spurs etc, I will be judging based on our performances in games like this.
Let’s use the international break to rally the troops and get some more team unity before heading out in front of the TV cameras at Selhurst Park two weeks on Monday.