Liverpool 1-2 Palace
"You must be sick of us" mocked the visiting fans at Anfield and they are not wrong. Crystal Palace won for the second season running at Anfield and for the third time in a row in the Premier League agaisnt Liverpool, inflicting the first loss on Liverpool’s new boss Jurgen Klopp in the process. Goals from Yannick Bolasie and Liverpool fan Scott Dann sandwiched a Philippe Coutinho strike seeing the Eagles leapfrog the Reds in the league and up to eighth place.
This was only the third time that Crystal Palace have won in the League at Anfield. Alan Pardew played in the first and managed in the other two. Super Al at his very best.
Unlike last season, it wasn’t plain sailing for the visitors in this one. The half time stats showed that Palace had scored from their only shot on target, created ZERO other chances vs TEN for the hosts and had only 39% of the ball.
Wayne Hennessey had arguably his best game in a Palace shirt and had to react well to claw away a header in the first half before spectacularly tipping over in the second and Christian Benteke should have scored with the scores level, heading over when it looked easier to score.
This is not to say that Palace remained chanceless throughout. Just before the aforementioned Benteke miss, Wilfried Zaha, who had an extremely impressive night, broke for the halfway line whilst holding off two players before putting the ball on a plate for Bakary Sako. The former Wolves man could only find the side netting but was let off by Liverpool’s Belgian striker moments later.
With the scores at 1-1 Jason Puncheon drew a save from Simon Mignolet who made it look good for the camera’s but in the end the win was claimed as Scott Dann headed home from a corner at the second attempt as Liverpool’s problems from set pieces continued.
All in all it was the perfect away performance from Palace. Taking the chances when they came along, defending stoically with the goalkeeper in imperious form. The only shame for Palace is that the International break once again halts any momentum that would have been gained from this win.
Sako as a Centre Forward?
Bolasie has been poor this season when played through the middle and when I saw the line-up announced I was a little bit disappointed that it looked like he would be playing through the middle again. Instead Sako played the bulk of his 65 minutes on the field through the middle with occasional switching with Bolasie.
Was this the answer to our problems going forward? Well, in a word – no. We only created one chance in the first half and from twenty-five minutes in until just after the hour mark, Liverpool completely bossed the game as we couldn’t make the ball stick up top.
However, in the week a couple of Liverpool fans spoke to PalaceFanTV and they said that the way to trouble Liverpool was to run at the centre backs and that is how the goal came about. Sako pressed and forced the error, Zaha drove forward and the “backing off” that they talked off was evident as Sakho did not get anywhere near Zaha. His cross was then intercepted by Emre Can who proceeded in tapping the perfect set up towards Bolasie – shocking defending. This “backing off” was also evident when Puncheon curled his effort from outside the area to force a save from Mignolet. Basically, the Liverpool defence is tailor made for us to cause problems with the personnel that they have and we really should have been causing them more problems than we did.
It wasn’t until the introduction of Connor Wickham on 65 minutes, replacing Sako, that we actually started to cause Liverpool problems on a frequent basis. His hold up play was excellent and his link play with the midfielders pulled the defence all over the place to the extent that it looked like we might score every time that we went forward in the last 15 minutes. If Wickham can stay fit, the balance in the team will be perfect and once again we will be causing teams all sorts of problems with an attack full of pace and power.
Scott Dann – Still Not Good Enough for England!
Ignored by England again in the week, this was the best way for him to stick the middle finger up at the powers that be. A practically faultless performance at the back and popping up with the winning goal.
Well done, Scotty.
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
Just shaded it from Damien Delaney for me. He was up against former Palace man and England full back Nathaniel Clyne yet he still managed to beat his man time and time again and was a constant threat.
Not far behind these two was Wayne Hennessey for me. I have been critical of his performances in the past but he came up with two big saves when it mattered today, the sort of saves that will see him keep his place in the team should he continue to make them.
Up Next: Sunderland
After the international break we get a chance to exact revenge on the Mackens for last season when they beat us 3-1 at Selhurst Park under the floodlights. Somehow I do not think that they will be getting the same joy this time around – a great time for Connor to get his first goal methinks.
Come on you Palace!