Palace 2-4 Liverpool

2
4
McArthur (18, 33)
Can (16) Lovren (21) Matip (44) Firmino (71)
Sat 29th October 2016
Selhurst Park
Att: 
25,628
Atmosphere
7
Performance
2

Crystal Palace slipped to a third Premier League defeat in a row on an evening full of goals and controversy at Selhurst Park. Four penalty appeals, an offside goal and some schoolboy defending made for the perfect TV fixture for BT Sport.

From the get-go, it was clear that Liverpool were by far the superior side. Their established high press caused problems for the young passing style of Crystal Palace – the expression ‘like flies around shit’ springs to mind. Much like in the first half against West Ham, the visitors managed to hurry the Eagles supply chain that is the back of the midfield and forced them into passing long and away from Christian Benteke a majority of the time. When on the ball, another expression suits the situation well – ‘like a knife through butter.'

The movement of the Liverpool front three wreaked havoc on the Palace backline, and it was only a matter of time before the visitors took the lead. Phillipe Coutinho lifted in a delightful ball to Alberto Moreno and his cutback found Emre Can, who slotted home his first goal of the season in the 16th minute. Replays showed that Moreno was just offside and the goal should not have stood.

For how brilliant they are going forward, Liverpool then showed why they will not be threatening top spot this season – they are awful at the back. Just two minutes later, Benteke flicked on a Steve Mandanda kick and the ball dropped to Joel Matip who stooped and headed the ball to Dejan Lovren. What the Liverpool number six is trying to do next is beyond me to explain as he swings at the ball, sees it loop up in the air and back towards his own goal. James McArthur reacts first and beats Loris Karius to the ball and heads into the empty net.

Parity lasted just three minutes. Liverpool won a corner, which arguably should have been given as a foul on Yohan Cabaye, and Lovren towered over Scott Dann at the back post to head through the legs of Mandanda.

Moreno then struck the outside of the post for the visitors, but despite Liverpool’s dominance, the hosts found a route back into the match. A James Tomkins long ball was contested by Benteke and Lovren, and the former Liverpool striker came out on top. His knockdown found Zaha. Moreno stood off Zaha, allowed him to cross and McArthur was on hand again to head home the equaliser at the near post. This was Zaha’s third assist of the season, the first time he has passed two assists in a Premier League season.

Mandanda then had to produce one of the saves of the season to deny Coutinho. Firmino stood up a cross and Coutinho found himself unmarked in the middle of the penalty area. The Brazilian’s header was heading towards the far corner, but somehow the French international flew across his goal and saved first with his right hand, then with his left and onto the post. What makes the save even better is that the header took a slight deflection off Joel Ward’s hand. Howard Webb said on BT Sport that he would have given a penalty, but it is hard to give it a penalty when literally nobody in the ground saw it happen due to it being the faintest of touches.

Unfortunately, the Frenchman’s heroics were to no avail as the visitors would take the lead two minutes before the break. Another Liverpool corner met by another Liverpool centre-back, and this time Matip’s powerful header found the back of the net.

Benteke forced Karius into a save at his near post early in the second half as a Tomkins long ball was nodded down by Dann, but Mandanda again had to be at his best to deny Mane. It was not a good afternoon for the former Southampton attacker who had blazed over the crossbar from six yards out in the first-half.

Then the penalty appeals started to fly in. Zaha flies through three Liverpool players, a challenge from behind knocks him off balance, he then anticipates being hit from either side in a sandwich and glances off Lovren and down to the ground. Everyone stops but the referee waves play on. Zaha is first to react and steals the ball and his centre finds Benteke. The Belgian immediately passes to Cabaye and is flattened from behind by Matip but again the referee waves play on and Liverpool can clear.

Minutes later and Zaha is one on one against Can going into the penalty area. The German takes out Zaha’s standing leg and again play is waved on.

Then came the killer fourth goal. Jordan Henderson could have passed a jumbo jet into the gap between the Palace centre-backs and still Dann and Tomkins wouldn’t have got close to Firmino, who excellently lifted the ball over Mandanda and into the net.

Set Pieces Woes

50% of the goals that Crystal Palace have conceded in the Premier League this season have come from set-pieces – and this is why the comment of “conceding set pieces, that is unusual for us” from Alan Pardew has infuriated Palace fans the world over.

In the off season, we were joined by England’s Joanne Budd. She took the role of Head of PR and Media Relations – well she is not doing her job well enough.

How can the manager of the team suggest that conceding from set pieces is “unusual” when it literally happens half of the time that we concede? Does he not realise that we are conceding so many goals from set pieces? If that is the case, I am terrified and fear for our safety.

I doubt that is the case. Pardew must be fully aware but why go on TV and make such a statement. Sure he wants to pedal the idea that we actually competed with Liverpool and let ourselves down by conceding twice in such fashion – and in essence that is correct. If Liverpool had scored four beautifully crafted goals, fine. To concede two from set pieces is infuriating, but the fact is, better finishing from Liverpool and they could easily have scored seven or eight.

Liverpool played us off the park and for the manager to come out and try to pull the wool over the eyes of the fans, who are far too aware of our defensive frailties, is insulting. Just come out and say that the best team we have faced this season outplayed us – we would have all understood that and moved on. Just stop lying to us.

Tactics

I’d love to be able to move on from Pardew at this point, but I can’t.

Why, oh why, did we try and go toe to toe in the midfield with a team that are far more established at it than us and coached by a man that is far more tactically aware than our own? Don’t be so stubborn, Pardew! The rare times that Liverpool have struggled this season is when teams have sat deep and hit them on the counter-attack. Every time that anyone else has tried to play them, Liverpool have come out on top.

The stats show that we had zero counter attacks in this match. The only reason that we scored was because of awful defending for both goals. If we came out of that game on the end of a 6-0 hiding, only the manager is to blame for being so bloody stubborn.

In describing the game above, I deliberately used ‘long ball’ over and over to highlight how often we caused Liverpool problems with the direct style. What I gathered from this match is that Pardew would rather lose playing his way than perhaps win by abandoning it when it is clearly not suited.

Lovren, Matip and Moreno were absolute jokes at the back. Every time we got decent service into Benteke they struggled. The big Belgian’s flick-on led to both goals, yet instead of realising that the midfield battle was lost and moving to a more direct style, Pardew persisted and Liverpool saw out the game comfortably as a result.

I was with Pardew last week. We were far better against Leicester than many people gave us credit for. To come out this week and try and suggest the same, however, is ridiculous.

Where Does the Next Win Come From?

  • Burnley (A)
  • Man City (H)
  • Swansea (A)
  • Southampton (H)
  • Hull (A)
  • Man Utd (H)
  • Chelsea (H)

I am not sure how vulnerable Pardew’s position is, but zero points from the next three games will likely see us in the relegation zone, and I cannot imagine the board will be happy with this after investing so much in transfers.

Three defeats in the next three are more than possible. Burnley are clearly no mugs at the moment. Man City is a guaranteed defeat as Pardew will try and show how big his balls are by going toe to toe with Pep Guardiola, and he will come up second best. Finally, Swansea have sorted themselves out in recent weeks and our record at their place is far from good.

Look further, Hull play 3-5-2 against which we struggle. Man United are Man United and Chelsea are Chelsea.

It looks grim at the moment, and this is exactly why I refused to get carried away during the five-match unbeaten run as an abysmal run is only ever one match away from starting under Pardew.

I want him to work out as our manager, I really do. I fear it will not and he will only have himself to blame.

The Penalty Shouts

The BT Sport studio clearly got themselves all hyped up that Wilfried Zaha was going down too easy. He is clipped, outside the area, in the first incident and this leads to him losing his balance. The second one is so clearly a penalty – his standing leg is taken out with about a thousand times more force than Benteke’s was in this fixture last season. So why is it a penalty for Liverpool and not for Palace? If that was down the other end of the field on Coutinho, Marriner points to the spot.

The Benteke one is a penalty. Matip has basically rugby tackled him, this time with ten thousand times more force than Delaney on Benetke last season. Again, why is it a penalty when he is in a Liverpool shirt and not a Palace shirt?

Ian Wright was a huge disgrace in the BT Studio. How can he sit there and say that Zaha dived? The contact on Zaha’s standing leg is so clear that I feel like I am taking crazy pills when I watch them talk about him going over too easily. He has beaten his man and his man has taken him out, end of conversation.

But big team bias doesn’t exist.

Man of the Match: James McArthur

Simply did not deserve to be on the losing side. He was all over the place and to pop up with two headed goals is brilliant.

Yohan Cabaye comes in a very close second. Seven interceptions and four tackles are ridiculous against a team like Liverpool.

In Red, I think that Palace fans might want to be a little more cautious when slagging him off in an England shirt after witnessing Jordan Henderson’s performance.

Up Next: Burnley Away

I’ll take a 0-0 right now.

Come on you Palace!

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Referee: 
Andre Marriner

Crystal Palace

Palace Manager: 
Alan Pardew

Opposition

Opposition Manager: 
Jurgen Klopp