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The good, what to improve and the achievement – Debating Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace

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Liverpool delivered what looked like a mission impossible merely a few weeks ago, but with their backs against the wall the Reds safely put their name in the Champions League pot.

The race for the top-four came to the final day, but Liverpool‘s job was clear: they just had to win – and that they did thanks to a Sadio Mane brace.

In fact, they were the only ones to do their job as both Chelsea and Leicester fell to defeat to push Jurgen Klopp‘s side into the unlikeliest of third-place finishes.

It marked a momentous end to a long, taxing and tumultuous season, one that showed promise of what 2021/22 can look like thanks to the presence of 10,000 Reds at Anfield.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Elli Lechtman, a South African Red, (@LFCZA) and Matt Ladson, who was at Anfield, (@mattladson) to discuss Liverpool’s victory and just how big of an achievement third-place is.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool supporters' banner "Thank you Gini [Georginio Wijnaldum]" during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ELLI: Firstly, it was great to have our fans back in the stadium after the prolonged events around the world. One can only hope that things start getting better from a fan’s perspective and we’ll soon see full stadiums again.

Liverpool needs a loud Anfield.

I also thought that the team selection was spot on. The momentum that we’ve carried through these last two weeks didn’t warrant any changes, but it was good to see Jota on the bench in the event we needed to bring him on.

MATT: Pretty much everything except the weather! Being back at Anfield was great, but that’s the coldest and wettest I’ve ever been at a match in May… not your usual end of season weather!

The organisation inside the stadium was superb, and a nice touch to make all drinks free.

I quite like the new kit too, it’s a bit different to the usual, but why not eh. Change it up a little for a season!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the second goal during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: A day of celebration is what it was and while they kept us nervy for a bit there, Liverpool more than got the job done.

It was amazing to see fans back at Anfield, the authentic noise and the normal chants returning to the terraces was exactly what was needed after the season we’ve all had.

As Matt mentioned, it was freezing and to see everyone in winter coats on the television was bizarre when we’re a week away from summer officially starting. Got to love the UK weather…

In the end the result spoke for itself, so I’ll reserve my last positive for the send-off for Gini Wijnaldum. He was more than deserving of it and will rightly go down as a Liverpool legend.

Thanks for everything, Gii!

 

To improve…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Crystal Palace's goalkeeper Vicente Guaita (L) and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ELLI: We were lucky at times during the first half with some sloppy passing. Trent was a little lucky with a misplaced pass which Townsend seized upon and nearly scored.

Overall though, once we saw some tense periods off, we looked like the team to score and win.

Next season, however, we need to improve on the sloppiness in the passing but more importantly, our conversation rate upfront has been poor and contributed a great deal towards what would have been a disaster.

MATT: Like Elli says, we were very sloppy early on. But I feel like the players wanted this season over as much as we did as fans. Write it off, clean slate, no damage done now we’ve remained in the Champions League.

The improvements need to come from players having a rest (hopefully) and returning with a (more) proper pre-season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's injured Virgil van Dijk during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: Have to agree with both Elli and Matt here. Sloppiness has been a keyword for the Reds this season but thankfully it didn’t add drama to the day.

Our conversion rate has been very poor but after two seasons all but melted into one, a break from domestic football will come as a welcome change of pace.

I do believe that we’ll get back to our best after pressing the restart button following a nice break and the return to normalcy (fans, travel etc.) will no doubt reinvigorate many.

There are an abundance of lessons to learn from this season but we’ll head into the next one only looking forward.

 

And just how big is 3rd-place after the season we’ve had?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp blows a kiss to the supporters after the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ELLI: It’s a massive achievement, especially given how poor we were at home at the turn of the year.

Klopp has been ridiculed for calling us ‘mentality monsters’ but only a truly great manager would have been able to turn a terrible season into one that has ended on such a high note. I don’t think any other gaffer would have been capable of doing that for us.

MATT: Pre-January if you’d said I’d be here absolutely talking up a third-place finish I’d have laughed, but that mid-winter slump was true relegation form. I doubt any club anywhere has ever lost six home games in a row and still qualified for the Champions League.

The elite players have stepped up in the last few weeks and ensured that they aren’t playing outside of the elite European competition next season. All credit to them.

I’m optimistic that this summer will be a good one for the club, in terms of the transfer market.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool players on a lap of honour after the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: It’s unbelievable. As Matt said, earlier in the year it looked as though European football altogether would be off the table let alone the Champions League.

It’s an absolute credit to the team for pulling together when their backs were against the wall, it was no easy feat after the blows they’ve continually been handed throughout the season.

It wasn’t the target we’d set at the start of 2020/21, rather a byproduct of the success we wanted, but to string together 10 unbeaten and five wins in a row at the death is worthy of a standing ovation. We have a fresh start now and with momentum on our side.

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