Liverpool 3-1 Crystal Palace – Efficient Reds Cruise

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

By Jonathan Carroll

Liverpool climbed to the top of the Premier League on Saturday with a win over Crystal Palace at Anfield. Goals from Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and a Steven Gerrard penalty helped Brendan Rodgers’ men reclaim the top spot from Arsenal. 

Coming into Saturdays game Liverpool had previously played with three at the back and incorporated wing backs in a multi dimensional 3-4-3 system. Palace manager Ian Holloway also went with an attacking formation in an adventurous move. Raheem Sterling was used as a wing back on the right side and Luis Enrique again on the left. Jordan Henderson was more impressive in the central role vacated by Lucas Leiva who was suspended. The young midfielder looks to be slowly coming into hs own this season.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

The forward trio of Sturridge, Suarez and Victor Moses caused problems throughout the first half for the visitors. Indeed it was good work down the left from Enrique and Moses that eventually worked the ball to the Urugyuan striker and even falling Suarez managed to finish low into the bottom left hand corner of the Palace goal.

A long ball found Sturridge isolated one on one against Damien Delaney but after turning the defender inside out, Sturridge potently finished with an exquisite left foot shot just inside the right hand post. Liverpool eased slightly off the gas as Palace broke out to cause some problems for Simon Mignolet and his defenders at the Kop end. Jimmy Kebe went close before Raheem Sterling was brought down by Dean Moxey at the other end. The replays showed it was a close call but referee Anthony Taylor got it right after consulting with his assistant. Gerrard duly dispatched the resulting spot kick and the reds were cruising.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

The common theme that exists now is a second half that lacks any real purpose. On Saturday the reds once again failed to build on their good work during the first half and almost let Holloway’s men back in the game.

A lively Dwight Gayle deservedly scored with a glancing header after some neat movement in the box. The delivery from Jose Campana was good but Gayle lost Steven Gerrard way too easily and Palace had their tails up for the last fourteen minutes.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Liverpool done enough to hold on but the second half dip in form is an area of concern for Rodgers and his team. There are many things that go into a team’s conditioning development throughout a season. Many variables need should be considered when planning personal fitness plans for top level players. Mistakes do happen however and Liverpool supporters only need to cast their mind back to when Graeme Souness was in charge and he incorporated a tough fitness regime that knocked out a lot of the first team players with achilles injuries, a topic discussed in “Is Fitness an Issue for Liverpool FC?”.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Whatever the reason is, a concentrated effort to inject some real purpose into the second forty-five in upcoming games could surely help. Rodgers has an international break to revise the current second half mystery and come up with a solution.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Liverpool have not hit full speed by any means this season and now lay in second place behind Arsenal in the league. Not a bad start to the season for the red half of Merseyside.

Liverpool

  • 22 Mignolet – 6
  • 37 Skrtel – 6
  • 17 Sakho – 7 (Agger – 67′ )
  • 04 Touré – 7
  • 31 Sterling – 5 (Booked)
  • 14 Henderson – 7
  • 08 Gerrard – 6
  • 03 Jose Enrique – 5
  • 07 Suárez – 7
  • 12 Moses – 6 (Luis Alberto – 66′ )
  • 15 Sturridge – 7 (Iago Aspas – 88′ Booked )

Substitutes

  • 09 Iago Aspas
  • 01 Jones
  • 33 Ibe
  • 26 Ilori
  • 47 Wisdom
  • 05 Agger
  • 06 Luis Alberto

Crystal Palace

  • 01 Speroni – 5
  • 03 Mariappa – 5
  • 02 Ward – 6
  • 21 Moxey – 4
  • 27 Delaney – 6
  • 15 Jedinak – 5
  • 12 O’Keefe – 5 (Booked)
  • 13 Puncheon – 6
  • 29 Chamakh  – 5 (Bolasie – 68′ )
  • 30 Jerome – 5 (Campaña – 45′ ) – 7
  • 28 Kébé – 6 (Gayle – 45′ ) – 7

Substitutes

  • 06 Campaña
  • 16 Gayle
  • 34 Price
  • 31 Guédioura
  • 07 Bolasie
  • 45 Inniss
  • 09 Phillips
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Attendance: 44,721
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One thought on “Liverpool 3-1 Crystal Palace – Efficient Reds Cruise

  1. Following the game, and with the players heading off for international duty, there have been several interviews and articles on the same theme of “good start … but could do better” and I would endorse that view.

    The front three have done everything that we could expect of them in the short time that Moses, Suarez and Sturridge have played together (except score second half goals). Their link up play and movement has been excellent and their finishing has been close to clinical. Sturridge has a lethal left foot and we all know that Suarez can score from any angle and almost any position (even falling over).

    Defensively, we have been pretty sound; I’m not a huge fan of three at the back (especially for home games – unless the wing backs are of very high quality and can be more offensive than defensive) but Sakho (aka the “big man”) is finding his feet and the unit is looking such more solid now.

    So where can we improve? Well, it goes without saying that for all his energy and determination, Jose Enrique is a liability on the left. One good cross / delivery in ten is not good enough and his defensive lapses are causing us to lose goals now. How Rodgers must rue Cissokho’s injury – he’ll be straight back in when he is fit. On the right, Sterling was given a huge opportunity to stake a claim on Saturday. The Palace defense was awful in the first half but Sterling not only passed up the opportunity but as good as tore it up and flushed it away. Johnson will obviously be back when fit. When Sterling will be back remains to seen.

    In defensive midfield Henderson gave his best performance to date in a Liverpool shirt in my opinion. That’s not saying a lot…a truly limited player without an ounce of imagination, but in the absence of Lucas and Allen, a reasonable alternative in the defensive midfield role.

    So, given we were without Coutinho, Lucas and Johnson, with those three players back in (plus Cissokho, Agger and Allen to play a part as well) then there is cause for optimism and a clear case to support the could do better argument. My big worry is, beyond this group of 16 / 17 players there is little depth in reserve except for defence (where we can call upon Kelly, Wisdom, Illori etc).

    We remain desperately short of support upfront and in midfield having lost Maxi, Dirk and Bellamy of the more experienced players in recent times; and Suso going out on loan there is a real shortage of talent there. I’d like to see Luis Alberto play 90 minutes just to see what he can do, but with no cup football until January then that’s not going to happen. Aspas is no better than Borini (perhaps not as good) so in January we need to bring in a striker and a proven midfielder (why did we let Eriksen go to ‘Spurs – surely a player like him was born to play for Liverpool?). We shouldn’t rule out Suarez leaving in January either (never mind next Summer) so the need is there. Let’s hope that between now and the window opening we can consolidate our position in the top four and look like a team heading back to the Champions League next season.

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