Liverpool 1-2 Palace
Crystal Palace won at Anfield for the third season running thanks to a brace from the man that Liverpool let go in the summer, Christian Benteke. Jurgen Klopp’s men were added to an ever-growing list of impressive Premier League scalps for Sam Allardyce in recent weeks. The Eagles have completed a unique hat-trick in the month of April, beating Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in the same season for the first time in the Club’s history.
What makes the win even more impressive is, just like at Stamford Bridge, Palace fought back from a goal down after Phillippe Coutinho had curled a beauty of a free-kick past, Wayne Hennessey. It was the 9th time that Palace had conceded from outside the area, no team has conceded more than Palace in the Premier League this season. It was also the third time that Hennessey had been beaten by a direct free-kick this season in domestic competition and, you guessed, no goalkeeper has conceded more.
Despite falling behind, Palace didn’t panic and three minutes before the break, Benteke scored his first of the afternoon. A hoofed clearance from Joel Ward dropped in behind the Liverpool defence, and Yohan Cabaye reacted fastest to get in down the right-hand side of the Liverpool penalty area. His low cross was pinpoint and Benteke tapped home at the back post. This was the fourth game running in which Palace have scored from low crosses into the penalty area which screams of training ground work.
The hosts came flying out of the blocks in the second-half, but their failure to break down a stubborn Palace defence led to frustration, mistakes and Crystal Palace counters. Cabaye fired a warning shot across the boughs when Liverpool defended horribly from a set-piece that was won via a counter-attacked. The ball dropped to the Frenchman on the edge of the six-yard box, but he lifted his effort over the bar. The next time the Scousers defended a set-piece badly, they were made to pay.
Andros Townsend drilled a low corner kick to the near post and captain Jason Puncheon helped it on its way with a flick. The Liverpool defenders were on their heels, but Benteke was alive and snuck in to power a header past Mignolet.
Allardyce would then throw on the defensive reinforcements and Liverpool would push for an equaliser, but not a single shot on target followed and the Eagles comfortably saw out the remaining quarter of an hour and the six minutes of stoppage time that followed.
The final whistled signalled the first time a team had won three Premier League games in a row at Anfield since Chelsea in 2005. One must go back to the 1970s for the last time that a team won three consecutive games at Anfield in all competitions. Quite the feat.
Klopp – Liverpool Dominated the Game
I have gone on a rant about these sorts of comments many times before, so I am not going to go all the way in here. But, no Jurgen, you didn’t.
Our game plan was to keep it tight at the back (you had one shot on target) and to hit on the counter with pace and utilise set piece’s (we scored from both). Your game plan was to try and break us down, and you failed miserably. Possession does not equal domination. Executing your game plan equals domination. You gave away a fifth of your passes, failed to create anything of note and failed to prevent exactly what you knew we were going to do. So, tell me again, Jurgen. Which team dominated the game?
The game is not always a beautiful one in England. Until he fully accepts that, Liverpool are never going to be a real challenger under his stewardship.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love Palace to play like Barcelona and run teams over every week, but that is not realistic for us mere mortals. Klopp’s sense of entitlement, which obviously matches with the Club that he is managing, and belief that what Palace or West Brom etc… are playing the game wrong is backwards thinking. Find a way to adjust, or sink. It is that simple, sir.
Andre Marriner the Red
Considering that referee Andre Marriner spent the entire afternoon awarding everything to the red shirts of the hosts, it is probably not surprising that Grujic (yeah, I haven’t heard of him either) got away with just a yellow after a reckless challenge on James Tomkins. The Palace centre-back’s leg must have been millimetres from breaking as the Liverpool man went through the side of his standing leg, studs up and with excessive force. As the Grujic was booked, there will be no retrospective punishment either.
He’s not that type of player etc…
Further proof that Marriner had Liverpool on his accumulator was when he booked Benteke for diving, despite Lovren making more contact than most of us have with our other halves. Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, he has already told Origi to get up after a dive, yet failed to produce a card.
The fact that we had to play against twelve men and still won just shows how bad Liverpool are.
The Sakho Handshake
I can’t deny, I would be furious if this happened to us – but the fact that it happened to Liverpool make it hilarious for some reason.
They can’t stop conceding soft goals, and they have loaned us a player that has stopped us conceding them. They have no strikers that can score goals and they sold us a striker that now has 16 goals this season – and there they are, rubbing it in, right under their noses with two goals and a handshake with dab flourish.
Regardless of whether we sign Sakho permanently or not, he has cemented his place forever as a Cult Hero.
Still Not Getting Carried Away
We were joking after the game that this sort of run was how Leicester got going at the end of the season before carrying the momentum into the following season and winning the title. But, there has been a trend in the 2010’s for Palace. We simply cannot put two halves of a season together:
11/12: 1st Half = Great 2nd Half = Terrible
12/13: 1st Half = Great 2nd Half = Terrible
13/14: 1st Half = Terrible 2nd Half = Great
14/15: 1st Half = Terrible 2nd Half = Great
15/16: 1st Half = Great 2nd Half = Terrible
16/17: 1st Half = Terrible 2nd Half = Great
What is there to say that things are going to change next season? Yes, things look that they are finally about to settle down at Palace, but we thought that when Pulis went on his brilliant run and then he sodded off before the next season started.
My experiences in recent years are that just as things start to get good, we find a way to spectacularly screw it up. Again, I ask, what evidence is there to suggest that we will not self-implode again?
Admittedly, it all looks set for us to finally challenge for a place in the mini table just below the top 5 next season. The starting eleven is great, and some added depth will mean that the squad will look great as well. Sam Allardyce looks hell bent on sticking two fingers up to the FA that sacked him after just one game in charge of England. This motivation can only be a good thing for us on the field. It also looks unlikely that there could possibly be any other team in the league that he would leave us for. Unless the very unlikely scenario occurs, that Wenger goes and Arsenal come knocking, Allardyce is ours for as long as we want him.
The question is then, can Allardyce achieve where he has failed since his Bolton days, and guide a team to more than just boring mid to lower table finishes? I want to say yes, but my instincts tell me that there is something waiting just around the corner to derail us once more.
I hope I am wrong.
Fraizer Campbell Appreciation Society
What. A. Touch!
Close to the end, Hennessey floated a long kick towards the corner and Campbell, over his should, caressed it out of the air like he wrapping the finest piece of china known to the world in bubble wrap.
Go on, Fraizer.
Man of the Match: Christian Benteke
When it comes down to the crunch end of the season in a relegation battle, Benteke turns it on. His three years at Aston Villa shows this:
12/13: Before Christmas – 8 Goals After Christmas - 13 Goals
13/14: Before Christmas – 5 Goals After Christmas - 6 Goals (injured for last 2 months)
14/15: Before Christmas – 3 Goals After Christmas - 12 Goals
He has now done the same at Palace. If Allardyce and Lee can keep him motivated and outing in shifts – he could do some serious damage next season. Assuming, of course, that we do not self-implode (God, I am miserable sometimes).
"You must be sick of us!"
Up Next: Spurs
We couldn’t, could we?
Come on you Palace!