Indefensible. Crass stupidity. Fans let down. I am of course referring to Liverpool starting only their second league game of the season, with both Phillips and Milner. Of course, the deserved sending off of Nunez contributed to more dropped points, before a stunning Diaz strike came to the rescue, but Liverpool’s ongoing refusal to adequately recruit needs to be seriously questioned.
A better performance than away at Fulham, and certainly greater intensity from the outset, was not rewarded with an early breakthrough, against a stubborn and well-drilled Crystal Palace team. Liverpool, though on top against a back five, squandered their chances, with Nunez and Salah both failing to take advantage of good early chances.
Four changes to the starting eleven meant a start for Harvey Elliot, and it was he who was constantly industrious, and trying to make something happen. Most of Liverpool’s best play came through the young starlet, along with Trent, but with Palace somehow seeing out the first thirty minutes unscathed, it was they who took the lead through Zaha.
Liverpool lost the ball in the Palace penalty area, and a swift breakaway saw Zaha quickly bare down on goal. Alisson, often so difficult to beat in a one-on-one, was unable to block this time, and a curved shot low to his right nestled into the net. For the sixth consecutive Premier league encounter, Liverpool had fallen behind, and an eleventh straight league victory over the Eagles was under threat.
In falling behind, Liverpool’s early intensity fell away. Vierra’s charges, diligently sticking to their game plan, grew in confidence. The immobility of the Liverpool midfield, which should surely not have to rely on 37yr old James Milner, along with Nat Phillips obvious lack of pace at the back, meant Palace always looked capable of a second, and they retained their lead as the second half began.
Again, Liverpool made a bright start, without ever really exposing Palace’s defensive line, and then in the 57th minute, Nunez, in his home league debut, saw red. His behaviour and subsequent dismissal, was particularly unforgivable, given that he’d already thrown his head at an opponent, and to do so again, so blatantly, and with no regard for the predicament his teammates would be left to face, surely merits further sanction by a surely fuming Klopp.
Palace should surely have seized the chance to press home their advantage. Up against ten men though, they sat further behind the ball, but nothing could prevent Diaz from dancing past half the away teams players, before lashing in a stunning equaliser with his right foot from the edge of the penalty box. Game on.
— Liverpool FC Online (@liverpool) August 15, 2022
With a raucous crowd urging Liverpool forward, Milner, Phillips, and Robertson, were all replaced. However, Liverpool’s apparent timidity in the transfer market, meant only Carvalho, who replaced Elliot in the closing minutes, offered a forward threat. Henderson, Gomez and Tsimikas, can hardly be expected to drag their team over the line, and with Salah’s touch deserting him, Palace left Anfield with a point.
So two games into a season, in which unsurprisingly, injury-prone players remain just that, Liverpool trail City by four points. Of course, it may be a little early to suggest Klopp’s men face an uphill battle in the title race, but it’s surely not too early to acknowledge that the club cannot continue to rely on so many players, who are so often unavailable. Another foray into the transfer market is surely a necessity.