Crystal Palace 0-0 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp’s side are held to a goalless draw at Selhurst Park with the stalemate denting their pursuit of the top four
- Jean-Philippe Mateta hit the crossbar from close range for Patrick Vieira’s side
- Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah were denied by the woodwork for Liverpool
- The result keeps Liverpool six points off the Champions League places
In summarising the kind of game this was for Liverpool, it is probably reasonable to go directly to a scenario that played out around half an hour in.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, having another of those dark nights of the soul, had a whipped a shot on a course for the top right corner, only for Jordan Henderson to run into its path and block the ball with his face. Hit him flush. Almost floored the poor bloke.
More than one match, maybe it told a tale of their wider season. The story of a golden team that arrived with so much promise and verve and speed and splatted hard into a wall.
If there is a consolation for Jurgen Klopp, it is that they did not lose. Goodness knows they gave up enough chances in the opening 45 minutes to do so. And from there, at least they got better, notably when Harvey Elliott got on the pitch and brought a little quality to their game.
But this was not the Real Madrid debacle in reverse, meaning a slow start and a fine ending. No. It was a dire start, dotted with the errors of Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip, and it was a mediocre ending. And it was against Crystal Palace, winless since New Year’s Eve.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick hitting Jordan Henderson summed up Liverpool’s struggles
Jean-Philippe Mateta struck the crossbar with Crystal Palace’s best chance of the first half
The Crystal Palace forward still has not scored a Premier League goal since August
A few words on that front – it is hard to recall a five-minute period of this match when Palace had more than 40 per cent of the possession. For the large part they had significantly less.
And yet they endured no great difficulties or even moderate ones – the best of Liverpool was one shot deflected wide by Henderson’s right cheek and another by the bar from Mo Salah. The rest was just a grey nothingness, allowing Palace to possibly feel like they were the side short-changed by a draw.
That is where Liverpool are for now, which in view of a Champions League campaign at deaths door, is not nearly enough.
The urgency around their situation was reflected in Klopp’s line-up, with four changes to refresh, tweak and otherwise fix the group that collapsed so spectacularly in midweek.
Most glaringly that meant no place in the squad for Darwin Nunez, carrying the same shoulder issue he sustained in the Newcastle win, while James Milner and Naby Keita were perceived as solutions of sorts for that maligned midfield. They did okay.
Vieira, with so many issues of his own, made no alterations to the side that drew against Brentford. The deeper meaning there was the ongoing wait for the return of Wilfried Zaha, who will need another week of training before exposing his hamstring to a match scenario.
Diogo Jota nodded against the post from a difficult angle during the first half
Mohamed Salah hit the Crystal Palace crossbar with a curling shot in the second half
Naby Keita was among four changes to Liverpool’s starting team from the loss to Real Madrid
Crystal Palace threatened regularly down Liverpool’s right hand side during the match
The regret for Palace in that scenario, quite aside from the loss of their most profound threat for a month and counting, is the right-hand side of Liverpool’s defence, or more bluntly the axis of Matip and Alexander-Arnold, has repeatedly presented this season as an accident waiting to happen. To Zaha’s eyes on the left of Vieira’s attack, they would have looked delicious.
Even without him, Liverpool were ripped apart down that flank, and usually at their own instigation. For all their possession, the breakdown of so many inconsequential attacks routinely funnelled into counters aimed at the same area of the pitch. Under such pressure, the mistakes followed and chances were plentiful.
The first of the howlers came when Matip panicked in possession and played a no-hoper of a pass to Alexander-Arnold, who in a flap of his own centred directly to Jean Philippe Mateta. It required a save from Alisson to clean up the mess. A short while later, Matip left Marc Guehi with a free header that he sent wide in front of goal, before another act of dallying on the ball by Alexander-Arnold saw him robbed by Jeffrey Schlupp, whose cross to Mateta culminated with a shot against the bar.
Alexander-Arnold was substituted on another difficult night for the Liverpool full-back
Vicente Guaita reacted well to smother an effort from Cody Gakpo in the latter stages
Liverpool lie six points behind the Champions League places following the goalless draw
Patrick Vieira’s side remain without a Premier League win since New Year’s Eve
In among all that, Alisson also botched a clearance and Michael Olise was only kept from a one-on-one by a flag for offside. From the Liverpool perspective, the defence was dire, as bad as in any of their wallopings, but with the caveat that somehow they had not conceded.
Going forward, they were better, though in unspectacular and fruitless terms. To reiterate, they had possession to burn, but the best of their opportunities was a Diogo Jota header against the outer edge of the frame from a near-impossible angle. With the only other memorable chance, Alexander-Arnold had his tangle with Henderson’s face.
Klopp’s response at the break was to hook Keita for Elliott. He brought energy and some control. Liverpool got better, though not in the tangible terms, with the closest call being when Salah hit the bar in a purple-tinted patch early in the period and later threaded a pass for Cody Gakpo, which was smothered at impact by Guaita.
By then Alexander-Arnold had been subbed off. When will he find his stride again? When will they? Questions that grow in volume with each week.
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Guaita 7, Clyne 6, Andersen 6, Guehi 6, Mitchell 6, Doucoure 7, Sambi Lokonga 6, Olise 7, Ayew 6, Schlupp 6 (Eze 71, 5); Mateta 6 (Edouard 71, 5)
Subs not used: Whitworth, Ward, Milivojevic, McArthur, Hughes, Richards, Ahamada
Booked: Clyne, Andersen
Manager: Patrick Vieira 6
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 6 (Fabinho 71, 5), Matip 6, Van Dijk 6, Robertson 6, Keita 5 (Elliott 45, 6), Henderson 6, Milner 6, Salah 7, Gakpo 6 (Bajcetic 85), Jota 6 (Firmino 71, 5)
Subs not used: Kelleher, Jones, Tsimikas, Carvalho, Williams.
Booked: Keita, Henderson, Fabinho, Matip, Robertson,
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 6
Referee: Darren England 5
Source: Read Full Article