Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Liverpool

A Big Hurdle Cleared for the Reds

Palace away is one of the most difficult fixtures of the season, and thankfully, the Reds walked away with all three points.

The hosts made life difficult by narrowing their formation and forcing the ball wide; in fact, they almost took the lead when Andros Townsend rattled the crossbar.

Ultimately though, Liverpool battled their way to a deserved victory. Mo Salah was correctly given a penalty for James Milner to slot home just before half-time, and Sadio Mane finished the game off in the dying seconds, rounding the ‘keeper after Palace were justly reduced to 10 men.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 8:

This is why we spent so much money on the Brazilian.

As predicted, Palace proved to be a real test for the ‘keeper, but he passed with flying colours with both his shot-stopping and distribution.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6:

Similar to his performance against West Ham, Trent was reliable in defence, but wasteful going forward.

Palace identified him as a weak link and funneled the play down his side. Unfortunately TAA did little to prove them wrong; some more time to get back up to speed is required.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Dejan Lovren is going to have a tough time getting back into the team if Joe keeps this up.

Positionally he was a bit rash at times, but this is to be expected of the young lad. It’s exciting to see the partnership he’s building with Virgil van Dijk.

Virgil van Dijk – 9 (Man of the Match):

More of the same from arguably the best defender in the league.

These are the types of games that Liverpool have historically failed to see out, but the victory never seemed in danger with VVD taking charge.

Andy Robertson – 7:

Robbo had less to do than the targeted TAA, but when called upon he was solid.

His excellent linkup play with Mane has carried over from last season and hopefully Trent will be able to forge a similar partnership with Mo.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7:

Gini has slowly become an extremely reliable defensive midfielder. Who would’ve thought he’d be keeping Fabinho out of the team?

Despite the commentators chirping about Gini’s away record, the Dutchman’s performance was of a good standard.

James Milner – 6:

Milly scored the crucial first goal with a calmly taken penalty, but unfortunately that was the highlight of his game.

He didn’t do much wrong, he just failed to influence the game as much as he did in the previous fixture; perhaps this is the opening Fabinho needs.

Naby Keita – 7:

Keita had an up and down game, giving away cheap balls and then producing unbelievable twists, turns and lobbed passes.

If this was a 7/10 performance from the Guinean, the league won’t know what hit them once he hits top gear.

Mo Salah – 6:

Salah won the penalty, drew a foul to get Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent-off, and assisted Mane’s goal. Yet his overall performance was decidedly average by his own lofty standards.

A proper goal or two will go a long way towards settling the Egyptian into his second season.

Sadio Mane – 8:

Mane is the only one of the front three to have immediately carried last season’s form into this one.

His fantastic goal aside, he was causing the Palace defence problems all night with his darting runs and unpredictable passes. Hopefully his teammates catch up soon.

Bobby Firmino – 6:

Even when our Bobby’s not at his best, he’s a crucial part of the team’s buildup and structure.

Once he gets more minutes under his belt, the goals, assists and overall linkup play will surely follow.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – 7 (on for Milner 67′):

Hendo did a solid job of helping to see the game out.

Adam Lallana – N/A (on for Keita 87′):

No time to make an impact.

Daniel Sturridge – N/A (on for Firmino 93′)

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Many were surprised and nervous when Fabinho was omitted from the squad, but ultimately Klopp was justified in trusting his midfield from last week.

Yet again, Klopp’s half-time talk had a resounding effect on the game as his squad saw out the remaining minutes when in previous years they may have crumbled.

Talking Points

Letting Go of the Past

While it’s relieving to gain a positive result from a tricky fixture early in the season, the signs for the future are far more important.

Aside from the brilliant displays from the defence and goalkeeper, the fact that the midfield can now comfortably control and manage games is extremely pleasing.

We’re going to see a lot more 2-0 victories this season, and far fewer 4-2 results as the games roll on, which could be a deciding factor in the title race.

Countering Corners

Last week West Ham were able to create a couple of chances from corners, but in this game those chances were not only eradicated, they were reversed.

Mane and Salah regularly broke free and created dangerous moments when Palace committed their defenders forward.

Looking ahead, this will have the double effect of creating another goal-scoring outlet, as well as causing the opposition to think twice before relying too heavily on set-pieces.

More to Come

The likes of Trent, Bobby, Mo and Keita are yet to get fully up to speed, and Shaqiri and Sturridge haven’t been given a chance to carry on from their brilliant pre-season performances.

Even Klopp himself noted that the attack is not on par with the defence so far, which is not something you’d associate with a Liverpool team.

Once everything clicks, and with a bit of luck, then the sky truly is the limit for this side. Maybe they’ll even be strong enough to challenge the immense Manchester City.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 21/08/2018

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Crystal Palace vs Liverpool – Preview

First Big Test of the Season Beckons

After an excellent opening game for both teams, this week’s fixture will prove to be a significant challenge to defense and resolve.

Former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has worked wonders since taking over Palace, and their players and tactics represent a relative blueprint for how to frustrate and take points off of Jürgen Klopp’s team.

After City’s demolition of Huddersfield, it’s time for the Reds to prove that they can get over the hurdle of teams that defend deep so we can keep up with the leaders.

Crystal Palace

Team News and Predicted Lineup

palpool

Crystal Palace made only a handful of signings over the summer to flesh out their squad; Jordan Ayew and Max Meyer being the most notable, but none are likely to start this game as they are lacking match fitness.

Regardless, Palace will field the same strong team as they did last week when they impressively defeated Fulham at Craven Cottage. Absentees such as Scott Dann are unlikely to come back in even if they are deemed fit.

Cheikhou Kouyate might be the only fringe player to get a look in after an impressive cameo last week and the fact that he is more mobile and physical than James McArthur which could be cause for consideration in Hodgson’s pre-game thoughts.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

palpoolpool

Liverpool fans were shocked this week when fan-favourite backup player Ragnar Klavan was sold to Calgiliari. He wouldn’t have factored into this game but he was a handy squad player and his presence could be missed as the season rolls on.

There’s no fresh injury news coming out of Liverpool, meaning that the lineup should be more or less the same as against West Ham. The only exception being the expected debut of Fabinho ahead of either James Milner or Gini Wijnaldum.

Given the fact that Palace will make life much more difficult than the Hammers will, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge could feature much earlier than they did last week.

Pre-Game Analysis

The main themes of this game are twofold: Will Liverpool be able to breakdown Palace’s deep defence, and will the Reds be able to handle the quick counters and high balls that they’ll be peppered with?

Alisson and Fabinho, if he starts, will demonstrate why we spent so much money on them as they will have to take on extra responsibilities. Wilfried Zaha is the biggest threat, but Christian Benteke will be keen to make an impression on his old club.

The fullbacks of both teams will have their work cut-out for them as their opposite numbers possess immense pace and quality on the ball. This game will ultimately be decided by who defends better, despite the attacking prowess that will be on display.

Prediction

This is a tough fixture for any side, but it’s especially difficult for Liverpool as Palace have many quick, powerful players who thrive on the counter and putting in crosses for Big Ben to nod home.

However, we are Liverpool, we shouldn’t be afraid of anyone and with our new signings we should be able to beat anyone, home or away.

Palace will make life difficult, but Naby Keita will be the difference as they will struggle to simultaneously snuff him out in the midfield whilst ensuring our front three have no space to run into. A hard earned but uplifting 2-0 victory to the Reds.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 20/08/2018

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Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Liverpool

Liverpool Lucky to Win

Crystal Palace will undoubtedly feel hard done by after squandering countless chances to secure a vital victory against the Reds.

Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha in particular will rue their missed opportunities as they ultimately kept Liverpool in the game until Mane and Salah were able to steal the win.

Pessimism aside, it’s another example of this Liverpool team breaking bad habits, as it’s rare to see the Reds win a game when they don’t deserve it, unlike rivals Manchester United.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

 

Karius was quite naive and clumsy when coming out to pressure Wilfried Zaha, and it cost his team what could’ve been a decisive penalty.

He bounced back well though and made a couple of strong saves to help keep the Reds in it.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5:

Another pacy winger has gotten the better of the young Scouser; Zaha was turning him inside out all game.

Going forward though, TAA was a useful asset, but you have to wonder how he will cope with the challenge of Leroy Sane in the Champions League.

Joel Matip – 4:

 

Quite simply, Matip’s time to prove himself is quickly running out as Benteke bullied him from start to finish.

Once again he was incredibly shaky at the back, and surely Lovren will have to take his place against Manchester City.

Virgil van Dijk – 6:

The Dutchman didn’t do much wrong himself, but his one glaring weakness was on show at Selhurst Park.

He spends an awful lot of time telling others what to do and where to go, but sometimes you need to take charge yourself and deal with situations even if someone else should’ve already done it.

Andy Robertson – 8 (Man of the Match):

 

Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson are easily the first three names on the team sheet these days.

The Scot was outstanding again and coolly provided the winning assist for Mo Salah late in the second-half.

Jordan Henderson – 4:

 

Hendo struggled badly for the vast majority of the game to deal with Palace’s pressing game and to provide any meaningful contribution going forward.

Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to get a more influential player in the summer to sit at the base of the midfield.

Gini Wijnaldum – 3:

 

It’s difficult to asses Gini’s performance because he did next to nothing, it was easy to forget he was on the pitch until he was subbed off.

He must be better against City, as he will again be tasked with the job of harassing the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.

James Milner – 7:

 

Milner was by far the best out of a poor midfield, at least he was able to provide the front three with some amount of service.

He helped open the scoring with an intelligent low cross for Mane to put away after wrong-footing Wan-Bissaka.

Mo Salah – 7:

 

This was certainly a more quiet game from Salah than fans are used to, and yet he still scored the winner.

A combination of a good defensive performance from Palace and a poor midfield performance from Liverpool restricted the Egyptian, but when he finally got his chance, he took it with impressive composure.

Sadio Mane – 7:

 

This game from Mane perfectly summarised his season so far, full of ups and downs.

Mane wasted a chance to score when he chose to dive, he then had a goal correctly ruled out for offside before finally opening the scoring after some excellent movement in the box.

Roberto Firmino – 6:

 

Firmino struggled without any form of service from those around him.

He worked as hard as ever though, and will undoubtedly be chomping at the bit to be more involved against City.

Subs

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 (on for Wijnaldum – 64′):

Ox was better than Wijnaldum in the midfield, but not good enough.

Bizarrely he was playing as though he was saving himself for City, as opposed to working his socks off to secure his place.

Adam Lallana – N/A (on for Mane – 65′):

 

Sadly Lallana lasted only a few minutes before coming off injured.

Hopefully, it’s less serious than it appeared, but it would seem his season, and perhaps World Cup hopes are over.

 

Dejan Lovren – 6 (on for Lallana – 70′):

 

Lovren was solid as Klopp changed to a back three.

Matip’s performance should see Lovren return to the starting lineup soon.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Danny Ings

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

Like his team, Klopp’s performance can be judged separately over the two halves.

Lovren should’ve started ahead of Matip, and the same might be said for the Ox and Wijnaldum; likewise, it’s unfathomable that he wouldn’t have realised Palace’s game plan would be to unleash Zaha against TAA.

Thankfully Klopp changed things in the second half, and his decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation ultimately stunted Palace’s attack and won the game.

Talking Points

TAA Roasted Again

No one wants to be too harsh on the youngster, particularly after such an encouraging season that has been mostly faultless.

However, it is clear that fast, direct-running wingers can get the better of him, and this must be addressed one way or another before the game against City.

Unfortunately, Joe Gomez is injured and Nathaniel Clyne is unfit, so the options are limited, however perhaps Emre Can or Milner could slot in, otherwise Trent will need more support, potentially leaving gaps in other areas.

Klopp’s Adjustments

Jurgen Klopp won in his 100th Premier League game for Liverpool in what has been a thoroughly enjoyable although trophyless start to his stint.

Klopp’s ability to read a game and understand how to adjust his team accordingly paid dividends here, and he will need to do it again against City.

For example, if he leaves TAA at right back, he could exploit City’s eagerness to attack him by encouraging Salah to stay up as high as possible and drop into the space vacated by their overlapping left back.

Season Defining Run Ahead

Starting on Thursday, Liverpool face City at Anfield, Everton away and City away in the space of a mere seven days.

Despite being the Merseyside Derby, the games against City are far more important at this stage of the season, particularly because Chelsea bow find themselves 10 points adrift of the Reds in 5th place.

If Liverpool can emerge victorious following that manic week, then the possibility of a second place finish and a sixth Champions League title could well be on the cards.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 02/04/2018

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Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

Reds Return to Action at Selhurst Park

Now that the international break is finally over it’s time to get back to what really matters, Liverpool in the Premier League and Champions League.

Liverpool will tomorrow square off with Roy Hodgson’s resurgent Crystal Palace in a game where both sides will be desperate for a good result.

Palace are still facing the possibility of relegation, whereas the Reds will be keen to keep the pressure on both Spurs and Chelsea who are behind them in the race for a top-four finish.

Crystal Palace

Team News and Predicted Lineup

crypal

Former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson will have the job of trying to derail the rampant Reds, but he could find himself outgunned.

Some of his key players are under an injury cloud including the likes of Jefferey Schlupp, James Tomkins and most importantly Wilfried Zaha.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek may feature in a five-man midfield if Zaha is out, while Timothy Fosu-Mensah or Martin Kelly could replace Tomkins.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

crypalpool

Both Emre Can and Dejan Lovren had minor injuries before the international break and will likely be given more time to recover.

Andy Robertson picked up a knock for Scotland, but he should be able to start, unlike Joe Gomez who picked up a potentially serious ankle injury for England.

The team more or less picks itself with the injuries mentioned above, but Alberto Moreno could give Robertson a rest, while Gini Wjnaldum could start in the midfield.

Analysis

An interesting theme to this game is that there a number of ex-Reds who could feature aside from the manager, including Mamadou Sakho, Martin Kelly and Christian Benteke.

Zaha and Benteke are stylistically similar to Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku who were able to defeat Liverpool a few weeks ago.

However, the Reds will have learnt from the mistakes made in that game, and they will be more than confident of being able to crack Palace’s defence multiple times.

Prediction

This will be a big test for Liverpool, as they have to overcome three factors that have led to dropped points in the past.

The game is against one of our ‘bogey teams’, it’s an early kickoff, and it’s straight after the international break.

Regardless, this Liverpool team has been breaking bad habits this year and will do so again on the weekend with a 1-3 win.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 30/03/2018

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