Liverpool 1-0 Palace
I know, I know! It is Tuesday, who cares about this match anymore? I will be brief, I promise.
Crystal Palace slipped to a narrow defeat at Anfield, seeing the Eagles lose their opening two games of the season for the fourth time in five seasons. Some stoic defending and an inspired performance from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey looked set to earn Frank de Boer a first Premier League point, but a late Luka Milivojevic error saw Sadio Mane win the game in front of the Kop.
By the time that the teams trudged off at half-time on Saturday, it was clear that Crystal Palace were guilty of showing an utter lack of respect to Huddersfield Town on the previous weekend. With the step up in opposition, the full backs sat back in a five-man defence, long balls into Christian Benteke were mixed in with a short passing game and Hennessey rarely passed the ball under 50 yards. A bit more of this against the Terriers and we might have witnessed a different result.
I hope that this has put the mind at rest of the many fans that believed Frank de Boer was going to march us blindly towards relegation by being too proud to alter the style when needed. Sure there is still a long way to go in the ‘three at the back’ slog, but there were signs in this match that the journey might be a little easier than many expected after the opening day loss to David Wagner’s men.
Another tough afternoon for the Palace number two. He was clearly targeted by the Liverpool and he often melted under the challenge. With James Tomkins impressing in place of Jairo Riedewald, it wouldn’t surprise me if Wardy was dropped to the bench next week and Fosu-Mensah or Riedewald (if fit) playing in the right-wing back role.
He has already won the Palace fans over, evident from the guttural chants of “RUBEN! RUBEN! RUBEN!” every time that he hit a Liverpool player with a tackle. I don’t want to exaggerate too much, but I certainly see many of the traits of Patrick Vieira in the Chelsea loanee. A bit of magic down the right saw him create our only real chance of the game. If only he’d put the ball on Benteke’s head instead of his right peg – we might have been celebrating a record 4th win in a row at Anfield.
Option to buy, anyone?
Man of the Match: Wayne Hennessey
The horrendous flap earlier in the first half and the odd misplaced kick aside, Wayne had his best game between the sticks. With 12 saves to his name, including at least two high-end saves low down to his right, the Welsh stopper impressed.
Of course, we have seen the odd outstanding performance before, Chelsea away last season springs to mind, but it is a step in the right direction and he should be applauded for his efforts. Are they too little too late for his Palace career? We will find this out in the final ten days of the transfer window.
Up Next: Ipswich Town
Tonight, Championship high-fliers Ipswich Town head to Selhurst Park for the second round of the League Cup. I really hope that we attempt to dominate the game as we did against Huddersfield. We are better off having another real game go at it in the early stages of the League Cup than against relegation rivals Swansea on the weekend.
Come on you Palace!