Liverpool 0 Crystal Palace 1: Is the Premier League title bid over?

Liverpool’s terrible week just got a whole lot worse.

A shock 1-0 defeat to struggling Crystal Palace has dealt a potentially crippling blow to Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of a second Premier League title. And following on from the 3-0 Europa League defeat to Atalanta on Thursday, the season is in danger of fizzling out entirely.

We analyse the major talking points from Anfield.

Is that the end of the title bid?

Even the most pessimistic minds on Merseyside would have struggled to envisage Liverpool’s week playing out as badly as it has.

After the 3-0 humbling at home Atalanta on Thursday, a result that leaves progress to the Europa League semi-finals hanging by a thread, another ruinous setback has made a Premier League title all the more unlikely.

Liverpool’s unconvincing form has been masked by late fightbacks but Crystal Palace’s resolute performance in a 1-0 victory has dealt a potentially fatal blow to Jurgen Klopp’s aims of signing off with another title.

Something close to perfection was needed down the run-in given the brilliant form of Manchester City and Arsenal and this unforeseen defeat – Liverpool’s first at home in the Premier League since October 2022 – has sapped all belief.

Another six games remain for Liverpool to respond but wins in all of those might no longer be enough. Liverpool have seen the backs of Manchester City in title races before and hoping for favours rarely works out. A season that promised so much has collapsed dramatically inside just four days.

Why do Liverpool play so slowly at the start of games?

There is a recurring pattern to Liverpool’s home games of late, one that threatens to drag a season’s aspirations off course.

Time and again they have been sloppy, lethargic starters, with opponents allowed to strike first. Crystal Palace were the latest to draw wind out of Liverpool’s sails when snatching a 14th-minute lead through Eberechi Eze. It was a nicely-worked goal for the visitors but another lamentable episode of defensive work from Liverpool, who began without a flicker of intensity.

Eberechi Eze capitalises on Liverpool’s sloppy start (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It was the 21st time in 51 league and cup games where Jurgen Klopp’s side have conceded first and the sudden absence of clean sheets continues to make even the routine games sapping occasions.

You must go all the way back to December 17 and a 0-0 draw to find the last Premier League visitor that failed to score at Anfield and, since the start of February, Burnley, Luton Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and Palace have all struck first-half goals at Anfield.

Defensively poor again – and it’s getting no better.

How did Liverpool miss those chances?

Liverpool remain a long way from their best, looking a fading force through April, yet the missed chances in the second half were inexplicable. There were four enormous openings for four different players but crucially no goals.

Darwin Nunez, so often wasteful as the focal point of Liverpool’s attack, set the tone when his attempt was kept out by Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 15.42.49

Substitute Diogo Jota was another player culpable, blocked by Nathaniel Clyne from Dominic Szoboszlai’s pass. Neither Henderson nor Clyne ought to have been given a chance of denying Liverpool.

Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 15.40.53

It had begun to feel like a damaging afternoon by the time Curtis Jones found himself one on one with Henderson and a finish sent wide of the goal did little to alter the outlook.

Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 15.42.05

Mohamed Salah, off colour all afternoon, then added his own entry into Liverpool’s horrid afternoon in front of goal when his late shot from close range was blocked by Tyrick Mitchell.

It all combined to undermine all Liverpool’s hopes of putting pressure on title rivals.

Was Robertson the one spark?

In a tired team performance punctuated by misplaced passes and wayward positioning, Andy Robertson was the one player to consistently rise above the mediocrity that surrounded him.

Liverpool’s left-back performed with an energy and drive that most team-mates struggle to find, galloping forward down his flank to stretch a patched-up Palace defence.

One deep, inviting cross to Luis Diaz so nearly brought an equalising goal but for an excellent save from Dean Henderson in a first half where Robertson was as threatening as any Liverpool attacker.

The Scot’s defensive work, though, was even more important. With Palace already one goal up, Robertson had the awareness and pace to cover in behind and clear Jean-Phillippe Mateta’s clipped finish off the line. The goal-line technology showed Robertson had been the saviour by inches.

Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 14.58.27

Jean-Philippe Mateta breaks clear…
Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 14.58.37

… and dinks the ball over Alisson, with Andy Robertson following in
Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 14.58.46

… the ball looks to be heading over the line
Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 14.58.57

… only for Robertson to hook clear on the line
Screenshot 2024 04 14 at 14.29.10

… with goal line technology showing it stayed out by inches.

Liverpool’s left side always looked far more assured than their right, where Palace routinely targeted Conor Bradley and Ibrahima Konate with flooded attacks down that flank. Robertson, a Premier League winner in 2019-20, was the experience Liverpool cried out for.

What next for Liverpool?

Thursday, April 18: Atalanta (A), Europa League, 8pm UK, 3pm ET

Liverpool are renowned for European comebacks but they will have to produce something special even by their standards if they are to overturn the 3-0 deficit confronting them in the Europa League quarter-finals against Atalanta. Fail, and this will be the final European game of the Klopp era at Anfield… but if any coach can inspire a turnaround, it’s probably him.

Recommended reading

(Top photo: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top