Palace 0-2 Liverpool
Nights like this one are tough to take. It is hard enough to play against a team as good as Liverpool under the best of circumstances, but to have the referee giving them the rub of the green makes it a near on impossible task.
I am not here to say that we deserved to win, we didn’t. Did we deserve a point? Maybe, and maybe we would have got one if it wasn’t for Michael Oliver giving Liverpool a penalty so soft that even Scouse legend Jamie Carragher said it was only “60% a penalty." through is red tinted glasses.
On the stroke of half-time, the decision to award Mo Salah with a penalty for going down in stages after only the slightest of contact swung the game entirely in the visitor’s favour. Do I think it was a penalty? If it was on Wilfried Zaha at the other end, yes, I would want a penalty. But here is where my problems with the decision start. We all know that if that was at the other end, Michael Oliver would have booked Wilf for diving only to give it every single time that it is Eden Hazard, Mo Salah or, for some reason, Andros Townsend.
Chris Sutton’s Double Standards
The new pantomime villain in Crystal Palace circles, Chris Sutton, is one of several pundits who loves to accuse Wilfried Zaha of diving. If Zaha had gone down like Salah did last night, he would have been apoplectic with rage, calling for the Palace number eleven to be banned. Because it is Mo Salah, Sutton says on Twitter – “Don’t know what all the fuss is about...Poor defending from Sakho... Michael Oliver spot on.” There is nothing quite like double standards.
The Patrick van Aanholt Yellow Card
Arguably the worst thing about the penalty decision is that Liverpool shouldn’t even have had the ball. Patrick van Aanholt put in a perfectly timed tackle on James Milner only for Oliver to blow his whistle, very late, and book the Dutch wing-back. Maybe Oliver, like Wilf, is not a fan of the “doing bits” hashtag. The passage of play from the resulting free-kick led to the penalty. If Oliver had kept his whistle away from his mouth as he should have, Palace might have taken the lead. Two brisk passes had scythed Jurgen Klopp’s men open, and Zaha had a clear run on goal pending.
A matter of inches
Of course, it could have all been very different had Townsend’s outrageous effort from range had been half an inch lower. The industrious “Star Man” wrapped his left foot around the ball after cutting in from the right, and the ball beat the Brazilian between the Liverpool sticks but failed to beat the crossbar.
Luka Milivojevic forced a save from a free kick, but it was a barren night in front of goal for Roy Hodgson’s boys.
The only other chance of note came when Max Meyer, making his debut, flicked a ball across the face of goal only for two Palace players to watch the ball fly across the face of goal when the slightest of touches would have surely resulted in an equaliser.
Christian Benteke vs Virgil van Dijk
To be fair to Liverpool, they defended brilliantly across the pitch, with Vigil van Dijk, the outstanding performer. The big £75m man had Christian Benteke in his pocket, and after suggesting that signs of improvement were there for the Belgian striker after the opener at Fulham, Palace fans have already regressed to thinking that the record Palace signing is a spent force. Should we be judging Benteke for a performance against someone as utterly dominant as van Dijk? For Chris’s sake, I hope not.
For our sake, I hope not, as centre-forward is hardly a position in which we are blessed with an array of stars.
Man of the Match: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
I felt extremely sorry for the young lad when Oliver pulled out the red card. The press has been hyping him up all week and the Palace academy graduate was living up to the hype. Sadio Mane knew he was in a battle and on the two occasions when the Liverpool number ten thought he had finally got away from the Palace youngster; there was a miraculous recovery from a sliding leg.
Was it a red card? Probably. I think that Wan-Bissaka tried to pull out of the challenge and had it been Mane in front of him, Hennessey would have had an opportunity to bail us out as he would have undoubtedly stayed on his feet – as he showed when scoring Liverpool’s second in stoppage time. Unfortunately for the Palace wing-back, it was Salah in front of him the Egyptian embarrassed himself again by arching his back and flying forward after realising that his final touch was too heavy.
The Classless Salah
Maybe Salah tried to immediately leave the pitch at the end of the game as he was embarrassed by his antics. Maybe he had enough of the Palace fans calling him the c-word. More likely, is that he doesn’t have a humble bone in his body.
As the final whistle sounded, Salah made for the tunnel and only the intervention of a Liverpool coach saw him turn around, almost under duress, to go back and applaud the travelling support that has spent their hard-earned money to come and watch him play. Even then, the man that score countless goals last season only made it as far as the centre circle where he clapped a few times before heading off again.
Keep it classy, Salah.
Game one without the Holmesdale Fanatics and people are already crying out for a return. Sure, it was noisy at points, but Liverpool at home is not the game where we will feel the full force of their absence. That comes when we’re 0-1 at home to someone like Newcastle, and the crowd is silent or screaming abuse at the players.
While there were noisy periods last night, the tone of the songs was all off. “Salah, you’re a c***” was amusing straight after the penalty, but let it go there. Instead, like uncontrollable teenagers who have just learned a new swear word, the crowd kept revisiting it. The problem with this is two-fold. The Holmesdale Fanatics very rarely engaged in “banter” with the opposition fans. They focused their support on the team. Palace songs for Palace players. By repeatedly singing about Salah diving, all we are doing is projecting negative energy at the pitch. Instead of the players being able to put their heads down and get on with it in an attempt to make a comeback, we are merely feeding the sense of injustice that they must have been feeling – especially if Luka’s comments after the game were anything to go by:
“From my point of view on the field (in front of Mama and Salah), it was not a penalty – and now I’ve seen the image after the game, for me – it was clear, it was not a penalty."
Then, of course, there were the wankers at the back of Block A in the Holmesdale singing Tommy Robinson songs. For those of you that do not know who Tommy Robinson is, he is a far-right wing bloke who spends his time fighting, obstructing the course of justice and spreading hate. Tommy Robinson isn’t even his real name. His pseudonym is taken from a former Luton Town hooligan that he idolised in his younger years, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about him.
Whatever your political leaning, and you can tell from the above that I am far removed from the views of that twat, there is no place for this inside a football stadium. You’re there to support the team, so support the team and keep your political views to yourself.
Know this, if I witness anyone doing this, I will be reporting you and exposing you and you can shout "grass" all you like. Crystal Palace FC is a Club based on family, community and inclusivity. You're having a laugh if you think I am letting you drag our name through the mud.
Back to the HF and, well, we need them back for my money. Please kiss and make up.