Image from: freelargeimages.com
Crystal Palace v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective
That performance can only be called special. It could have been even worse for Palace but Liverpool were coasting for most of the second half. Almost everything came off for Liverpool, allowing them to slice Palace apart, almost at will. Palace’s usually solid defence just could not cope with the movement and the speed that the ball was moved around. With Liverpool’s press working exceptionally well, Palace were hemmed in and struggled to get the ball out of their half so the defence could get a breather.
It did help that Liverpool took an early lead, meaning that Palace had to try and get forward when they could, but they were just not good enough to put the ball in the back of the net, in a very similar way to Spurs last time out.
The scoreline was probably harsh on Palace, in a similar way the 9-0 hammering at Anfield was. While Liverpool were that good in both games, Palace were not that bad in either. They conceded seven but they stayed compact, kept their positional discipline and the defence and midfield never let their heads drop. The same could not be said of Zaha up front, whose attitude stinks and he let his team down badly by doing nothing to help, instead concentrating on childish strops and waving his arms around when the ball was not delivered precisely to his feet on demand.
Contrast that attitude with Ayew, who was helping out defensively and still getting forward every single chance he got. Palace could have played that game without Zaha on the pitch at all for all the difference he made.
Klopp – when his team wins 7-0 away from home against a team known for being strong defensively and not conceding many goals, all you can really do is applaud Klopp. That was a simply brilliant performance and Klopp deserves all the plaudits he gets from everyone (everyone that is not named Jose Mourinho that is) for this game. Just brilliant.
Alisson – a nice easy game for Alisson. Palace were just not good enough to test him.
Alexander-Arnold – had a very good game and played a beautiful ball out to Salah ahead of Firmino’s second goal. The right-back is starting to get close to his best form. Also did well not to get wound up into reacting by van Aanholt’s bizarre actions over a ball being put clear. Obviously the Palace left-back is not very bright, or he would remember that there are balls dotted all round the pitch on cones to use that are sterilised for throw ins etc.
Matip – he did not look to be moving freely at all and it was the one worry I had watching the game. Not so much that Palace could exploit it, as they were never given the time and space to pick passes, but that he could aggravate his back problem. With a week off before the next game, it was probably a risk worth taking and he did get an assist towards the end.
Fabinho – this was a game he strolled through. There were a few moments he had to get a foot in to break up an attack, and he does that so well.
Robertson – he did not have Mane in front of him, but he was still up and down the wing tirelessly and played extremely well. Once again Robertson was very good and is really putting forward a case to be considered as the best left-back in the world right now.
Keita – a very mixed game for Keita, there were times when he was terrible, dwelling on the ball, taking far too many touches, only to give the ball away. Then there were other times when he was good, he was involved in the second goal for example. As the game opened up and there was more space for him, he was able to make some nice runs and produce some good passes, such as his nice forward run and then releasing the ball to Minamino, who probably should have scored. Straight after that though Keita dwelt on the ball and lost it in his own half and was then weak and knocked off it easily. The problem is that it is not just that Keita’s performance was mixed, but that for large periods of the game he was little more than a passenger and not getting himself involved. He needs to be more assertive on the pitch.
Wijnaldum – a very good game again from Wijnaldum, a clever tactical one in my opinion. With Liverpool having taken an early lead, he was much more restrained and made sure to watch his positioning and not get carried away charging forward. It may not have looked as good as his other recent performances, but for me it was a particularly good performance for the team.
Henderson – a true captain’s driving performance. He was absolutely outstanding and probably the best player on the pitch. It was not just his lovely, well-taken goal, it was his all-round work, the way he was here, there and everywhere breaking up play and using the ball well when he got it. It was one of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt, which is a high bar he has set as well.
Mane – playing back on the right and he was excellent. Scored a lovely finish on the edge of the box from a nice Firmino assist. Was a bit sulky about coming off, but he played very well while on the pitch.
Firmino – pushed Henderson for man of the match with an absolutely brilliant performance, scoring two goals and getting an assist. Nice to see his coolness in front of goal return with his first being the result of Firmino sending the goalkeeper the wrong way by giving him the eyes and then following it up with one of his trademark no-look goals. When Firmino plays like that, there is no one else in the world who compares in his particular role. There are some who can do the attacking part of his role and others who can do the defensive part, but no one can put it all together to produce such a brilliant all-round performance.
Minamino – took the opener really well, so composed for a player that has struggled to get regular football. Played a key part in the press and played well, giving the defence a totally different kind of problem than either Mane or Salah would have. His movement is excellent.
Salah – replaced Mane in the 57th minute. Played really well and got two goals and an assist in his time on the pitch. That final goal, in particular, was beautiful, but his best contribution was the ball through for Firmino to score. Great contribution.
Jones – came on for Wijnaldum in the 69th minute. Slotted into the team like an experienced pro and showed some lovely footwork. He is impressing every time he plays at the moment.
Oxlade-Chamberlain – gave Bobby a break by taking his place in the 75th minute. Did OK, but it was difficult for him to make any kind of impression when Salah completely overshadowed everyone in those final 15 minutes.
Written by Tris Burke December 20 2020 16:29:05